After a spectacular finish in Le Touquet, the Clio Trophy France Asphalte heads south for the second meeting of its 2023 calendar at the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur. In a round that offered breathtaking suspense in its first appearance on the calendar since the introduction of Clio Rally5, the battles promise to be intense throughout the 47-car field.
After 38 crews at the opening round, the Clio Trophy France Asphalte once again confirms its huge appeal with one of its largest-ever service parks as forty-seven Renault Clio Rally5s will be in action at the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur.
Following on his success in Le Touquet, Valentin Ascenzi will aim for two on the bounce in the Alpes-Maritimes, but the 3P Racing by GMC Compétition driver knows more than anyone how unforgivable the roads of Antibes are. Leader on home turf last year, he saw his hopes vanish after an accident and now wants to take his revenge and extend his advantage on top of the general classification. The Junior category leader isn’t the only driver who wants to move on after past misfortunes though as Arthur Pelamourgues aims to forget the roll depriving him of victory in the final stage of Le Touquet.
In addition to the main contenders at Le Touquet, many others will try to make their ambitions known. Third in the first Clio Trophy France Asphalte appearance in Antibes twelve months ago, Benjamin Stirling should be among the front-runners, as Yoan Corberand after his best trophy result. Tom Vauclare, Nicolas Hebrard, Julien Deslauriers, Romain Fostier and Benjamin Barnouin, all of whom were in the top ten in the Hauts-de-France, will also have something to play for, as well as Jean-Claude Pietri and Tobias Laurence, eager to confirm the potential they showed in Le Touquet.
Stopped in their tracks in the daunting conditions of Le Touquet, Patrick Magnou, Yannick Francisci, Dylan Gagnière, Mattéo Chatillon and Tom Pellerey have already used their joker and will all be motivated to make up the lost ground in the general classification. Several Juniors will also hope to raise their level to get closer to the sharp end of the order, like Enzo Beschet, Arthur Roche and Romain Perrin while Jordan D’Agostino, Théo Apchie and Quentin Roger will be eager to improve in a field where Christophe Gouville, Sylvain Janny and Ugo Girardeau will also be competing in.
Simultaneously, Manon Massarotto and Carla Gaffayoli will continue their duel in the Women’s category for their first start on this rally. In the Gentlemen class, the fight will be intense after the victory in Le Touquet of Mike Souvigné. The Luxembourger will be keen to repeat the feat, but his rivals will seek revenge, starting with Franck Giraud and Jean-Pierre Lejeune, both experienced on the Antibes roads unlike Willy Mathey and José Da Cunha. Meanwhile, Pascal Bérard and Dominique Patenotte will return to the Trophy and rely on their experience to create a surprise in a category where Frédéric Perrard and Patrick Favre will also be at the start.
Several competitors will also make their first appearance of the season. Seventh in Antibes last year, Pierre Paul Baltolu will make his comeback, co-driven by Margot Dupuy, Women’s category winner last year. Julien Anthérieu, Matthieu Suzzarini and Gabriel Conti will also be back in a Clio Rally5 whilst Alexis Delorme, Enzo Baraccani, Julien Charnay, Nicolas Paviet-Roche, Jérémy Rieu, Matthieu Fassio and Belgian Samuel Lay will make their debuts in the Trophy’s service park.
In addition to the intense battle in all the categories, two Clio Rally3s will be in action, with two former Clio Trophy France Asphalte drivers, Tom Pieri and Styve Juif. Three Clio Rally4s will also be there, with Julien Bregeon, Jean-Baptiste Daune and three-time French Women’s Rally Champion Allison Viano.
The 58th Antibes Côte d’Azur Rally starts on Friday morning with a loop of three stages repeated after a mid-day stop at the Cagnes-sur-Mer service park. Following this first leg including Puget-Théniers, three other tests to be run twice await the competitors on Saturday. SS8 and the iconic Col de Bleine will host the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage, which awards bonus points. The twelve stages will total 212.12 kilometres of action on a route of 725.35 km.
#42 Valentin Ascenzi – Marine Lacruz (J)
#43 Yoan Corberand – Manon Deliot
#44 Benjamin Stirling – Florence Stirling (J)
#45 Tom Vauclare – Frédéric Vauclare (J)
#46 Nicolas Hebrard – Amandine Houry
#47 Julien Deslauriers – Amandine Brunel
#48 Jean-Claude Pietri – Kylian Sarmezan (J)
#49 Romain Fostier – Ophélie Abchiche
#50 Tobias Laurence – Florian Duthu (J)
#51 Benjamin Barnouin – Enzo Mahinc (J)
#52 Arthur Pelamourgues – Alizée Pottier (J)
#53 Patrick Magnou – Anthony Vilanova
#54 Mattéo Chatillon – Brice Ricou (J)
#55 Tom Pellerey – Hervé Faucher (J)
#56 Jordan D’Agostino – Florian Chardon (J)
#57 Enzo Beschet – Romain Gandre (J)
#58 Yannick Francisci – François-Marie Ghelardini (J)
#59 Dylan Gagnière – Maryne Bonne (J)
#60 Arthur Roche – Quentin Proust (J)
#61 Romain Perrin – Albin Goutry-André (J)
#62 Pierre Paul Baltolu – Margot Dupuy (J)
#63 Mike Souvigné – Yoan De Mol (G)
#64 Alexis Delorme – Angeline Ravier (J)
#65 Enzo Baraccani – Yann Ferrier (J)
#66 Pascal Bérard – Caroline Berard (G)
#67 Julien Charnay – Charlotte Baille
#68 Christophe Gouville – François Heer
#69 Julien Anthérieu – Faustin Frutoso (J)
#70 Samuel Lay – Geoffrey Brion (J)
#71 Manon Massarotto – Patrick Chiappe (J, F)
#72 Franck Giraud – Sylvain Guillaume (G)
#73 Matthieu Suzzarini – Sonny Postel
#74 Sylvain Janny – Mireille Guy
#75 Matthieu Fassio – Eddy Jabeneau
#76 Gabriel Conti – Maxime Cruard (J)
#77 Théo Apchie – Aurélie Vedrine (J)
#78 Willy Mathey – Mathieu Favreau (G)
#79 José Da Cunha – Magalie Da Cunha (G)
#80 Frédéric Perrard – Francis Leclercq (G)
#81 Nicolas Paviet-Roche – Mélodie Bellavarde
#82 Quentin Roger – Alysée Poillon (J)
#83 Patrick Favre – Clément Certano (G)
#84 Dominique Patenotte – Julien Loiseau (G)
#85 Ugo Girardeau – Julien Bichon
#86 Carla Gaffayoli – Manon Perrin (J, F)
#87 Jean-Pierre Lejeune – Geneviève Arnavielhe (G)
#88 Jérémy Rieu – Léa Hiroux-Figari