A new winner in the 2023 Clio Cup Series season-opener, victory for Benoit Verlinde in its official programme in the Belgian Rally Championship and the first appearance of Clio Rally5 in the United States. A look back at a busy week for the customer racing department !
Clio Cup Series
The 2023 Clio Cup Series season began with thirty drivers and 33,000 spectators at the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro. David Pouget claimed both poles and was the first to cross the finish line twice, but the GPA Racing driver dropped down the finishing order due to penalties. Nicolas Milan took advantage on Sunday, as did Mathieu Lannepoudenx, who scored his maiden victory on Monday.
Nicolas Milan takes the lead in the Clio Cup Series and Clio Cup France, while his teammate only trails Adrian Schimpf by three points in Clio Cup España. Alexandre Finkelstein, Mathieu Lannepoudenx and Adrian Schimpf shared the Challengers Cup victories, as did Jérémy Bordagaray, Fabien Julia and Sergio Casalins in the Racers Cup.
The Clio Cup Series now heads to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy for the opening round of Clio Cup Europe, Clio Cup Italia and Clio Cup Mid-Europe on the weekend of 21-23 April.
More information here.
Belgian Rally Championship
2022 Clio Trophy Belgium winner Benoit Verlinde contested round two of his official programme with Clio Rally4 in Castrol colours. From the start of the TAC Rally, the Belgian and his co-driver Anton Dupan dominated the action and took advantage of the mistakes of their main rivals to extend their lead. The Pieter Tsjoen Racing crew won in RC4 and Junior BRC. Despite going off on the opening stage, Jonas Dewilde and Jeffrey Vandenbussche secured the 1-2 for Clio Rally4 in the Junior category. Meanwhile, Jeroen Catelin and Thijs Ozeel won in RC5 with Clio Rally5.
Benoit Verlinde : "It’s a fantastic win, but more importantly, I felt more comfortable in the car than I did on the South Belgian Rally. We started from scratch and set up Clio Rally4 differently. The feeling was better, but now we have to find a solution to solve the understeer, which there is too much of for my taste."
More information here.
In the French Rally Cup, Clio Rally4 and Clio Rally5 both won at the Rallye Dame de Chambrille with Laurent Berthomier - Sébastien Gouionnet and Vincent Reault - Amélyne Rageau. Meanwhile, Clio Rally5 also won with Alex Florenson and Charline Dichamp at the Rallye de l’Anguison, where Eric and Maëva Hervé-Grillot finished on the podium with Clio Rally4. Both models had similar success at the Rallye des Corbières, with Sylvain Rouquette - Marjorie Mercier in Rally5 and Dominique Chibaudel - Vincenten Deloustau in Rally4.
Maxime Fourmaux and Emma Pierrine also won with Clio Rally5 at the Rallye du Balcon Est du Vercors, as did Romain Wallon - Maxime Daszuk at the Rallye de Neufchâtel-en-Bray and Pascal Bérard - Caroline Bérard at the Rallye du Pays d’Olliergues, where Franck Chaput and Gilbert Raygnaud took a podium result with Clio Rally4. Eric Mauduit and Sophie Chauveau gave Clio Rally4 another success by finishing eighth overall in the Rallye Autocourse, where Clio Rally5 monopolised the top eight places in its category under the impetus of Arthur Roché and Quentin Proust.
Outside France, Tim Wacker and Ann Felke led Clio Rally5 to a 1-2 finish at the ADAC-MSC Osterrallye Zerf (Germany), whilst the Swedish duo of Simon Andersson and Mats Jönsson scored a category podium finish with their Clio Rally4 at the Mesterskab Øst (Denmark) while finishing eighth overall.
Lastly, Clio Rally5 debuted in the USA with a demonstration at Rally USA Tennessee. Two Mexican crews led by Rafael Maggio and Patrice Spitalier were on the Chattanooga dirt stages in this test event to determine whether the event qualifies to host an FIA World Rally Championship round.