Astier – Ruel win in close finish!
ANTIBES, France, October 12 - Round six of the French Rally Championship, the Rallye d’Antibes proved to be well-suited to the Alpine A110 Rally developed by Signatech.
The car’s exceptional agility and balance delivered a superb overall performance, with the Dieppe brand securing its first outright win in the category since 1978 and no fewer than four of its cars finishing in the top ten overall. Among them, the Saunier – Vauclare and Astier – Ruel crews were the leading contenders in the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy. Win two wins already under their belt this season (Mont-Blanc and Cœur de France), the former pair fired the opening shots to grab the early lead, building a gap of as much as 19.3 seconds at one point. Meanwhile, the latter crew, who had already competed in the Alpine at the start of the season at Monte-Carlo and who were making another one-off appearance in the Trophy here, used all of their knowledge and experience in rear-wheel drive cars to gradually up their pace on the demanding stages in the hills above Antibes. With a series of fastest times (eleven in total compared with four for Saunier), the Ardèche driver made up ground little by little on his rival and began to put Saunier under pressure. Struggling with his set-up, Saunier ended up suffering a minor impact on the famous Couillole stage, the rally’s penultimate test. With that, the die was cast: Astier and Ruel went on to win by just 3.2s after a thrilling duel that provided the spectators with plenty of suspense! The final Trophy podium place was taken by Jean-Luc Roché and Jessica James, whilst Michel Bonfils and René Belleville finished in fourth position after rejoining under Super Rally rules.
The latest in the Trophy
Julien Saunier and Frédéric Vauclare profited most from the absence of Nicolas Hernandez and Candice Melocco – winners of the Rally du Rouergue and their main rivals to date – as they strengthened their position in the standings despite having just missed out on victory in Antibes. They are now the clear leaders heading into the final round of the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy at the Rallye du Var (26-28 November).