After clinching the title in September, Florian Bernardi dominated the Rallye du Var in extremely difficult conditions. The Vaucluse native was joined on the podium by Guillaume Jean, who takes top Junior honours and Italy’s Ivan Ferrarotti, who impressed in his Clio R3T Trophy France debut.
Friday afternoon, the 19 crews entered in the Clio R3T Trophy France – a record – left from Sainte Maxime for the first three-stage loop. Florian Bernardi set the early pace ahead of Damien Tozlanian and Ivan Ferrarotti, but the Italian suffered a puncture on SS3, losing more than three minutes.
In the fog and night time conditions, the final stage of the day saw the gaps widen further.
Damien Tozlanian and Thibaut Poizot also had flat tyres while José Javier Perez had an off. Florian Bernardi ran the table to extend his lead to two minutes from Guillaume Jean. Sara Williams, who showed well with second best time on SS4, was another 16 seconds behind. Further back, everything was still to play for with Pascal Aimé leading the chase group that included Mathieu Walter, Olivier Delaporte and Yoann Lambert.
On Saturday, Florian Bernardi began the day with four more stage wins ahead of Ivan Ferrarotti. Continuing his comeback drive, the Italian claimed his first scratch time on the third run of La Môle before Florian Bernardi came back to go quickest on SS10 and the cancellation of SS11 due to spectators in no go zones.
Before heading into the final day, Florian Bernardi had a comfortable lead from Guillaume Jean, while Mathieu Walter, Sara Williams, Olivier Delaporte and Pascal Aimé all battled for third place with less than 15 seconds covering the four.
It all came down to the final three Sunday special stages. While Damien Tozlanian set the benchmark time on SS12, Sara Williams was the first of the podium contenders to get caught out. In the aftermath, Ivan Ferrarotti came up big on SS13 and closed to within 18 seconds to Mathieu Walter heading to final special stage of the rally, Le Plan de la Tour (31.99km).
On the longest stage of the weekend, Damien Tozlanian posted another best time, but it was Ivan Ferrarotti who starred as he moved ahead of Mathieu Walter by just 2.5s !
Florian Bernardi takes his fourth success of the season with a 3:03.4s margin of victory from Guillaume Jean, who picks up the honour of best Junior of the year. Ivan Ferrarotti completes the podium ahead of Mathieu Walter, Gentleman driver Pascal Aimé, Damien Tozlanian and Vaclav Stejskal.
After a puncture in the final special stage, Olivier Delaporte was eighth, while Yoann Lambert and female driver Charlotte Berton round out the top ten.
Outside the Trophy, the 2017 Clio R3T Trophy France winner Cédric Robert won in R3 and two-wheel drive categories at the end of another fantastic duel with Emmanuel Guigou.
Sunday evening, Florian Bernardi officially entered the Clio R3T Trophy France record book during the prize giving ceremony. The Frenchman also took possession of his Renault Clio R.S. for winning the title…
For the others, season five of the Clio R3T Trophy France kicks off next April 18 during the running of the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières !