Round two of the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy turned to the advantage of Yoann Lambert and Patrick Therry on Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur.
Winner on their debut ahead of Bertrand Fassio and Philippe Eustaquio, the crew climbed to the top of the general classification, on level points with Cyril Raymond.
The Alpine A110 Rally cars excelled on the iconic roads of the event with an overall podium finish and a hat-trick in the two-wheel drive category.
Three weeks after the season-opener, the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy was in action on Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur, in which last October, the A-arrowed brand scored its first overall victory in the French Rally Championship since 1978.
After battling it out on round one at Rallye Rhône-Charbonnières, Cyril Raymond and Grégory Fontalba resumed their duel, separated by only two-tenths of a second after the first stage. Alas, the battle was short-lived as the former retired on SS2 after a stone damaged his radiator while his rival went off the road.
Yoann Lambert inherited the lead and widened the gap on SS3 to come back to the service park with a 45.6s advantage over Alexandre Vernazza. Unchallenged in the afternoon, the newcomer in the trophy took advantage of the retirement of his closest challenger to finish an tough leg for men and machines alike with a good lead.
Cyril Raymond restarted on Sunday morning and set the best time on SS8 before going off the road due to a pace note mistake in the next timed sector. From there, it was a distant duel between Yoann Lambert and Bertrand Fassio, who also returned after his retirement on Saturday. While the former was quickest on SS9, the latter set the best time on the legendary La Bollène - Col de Turini - Peïra-Cava and La Cabanette - Col de Braus - St-Laurent stages.
Yoann Lambert then managed his lead and pace to clinch his maiden victory on his Alpine Elf Rally Trophy debut with an almost one hour lead over Bertrand Fassio. Yoann Lambert is now level on points with Cyril Raymond atop the general classification. Bertrand Fassio is the new leader among the Gentlemen.
Meanwhile, Alpine excelled under the impetus of Cédric Robert and reigning Alpine Elf Rally Trophy title winner Julien Saunier. Consistently in the top five throughout the rally, the two drivers confirmed the potential of the Signatech-designed model and avoided all the pitfalls. Cédric Robert even took third place at the finish in the last few kilometres, thus winning the two-wheel drive category ahead of Julien Saunier and Philippe Baffoun on an all-Alpine podium.
The next round of the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy will take the competitors to Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie (7-9 July) to complete the first half of a season highly unpredictable!
Yoann Lambert: "We didn't think we would do so well when we started on Friday. We certainly took advantage of our rivals' bad luck, but we were consistent and avoided trouble. It paid off, and I am extremely pleased with this win. We had never achieved such a result, even in other brand cups. It's great to win the trophy and finish 19th overall. The Alpine A110 Rally was simply fabulous. I still need more seat time to get the most out of it, but I'll try to come back now that I'm leading the general classification!"
1. Yoann Lambert-Patrick Therry 2h33:13.6s
2. Bertrand Fassio-Philippe Eustaquio +54:42.5s
DNF. Cyril Raymond-Valentin Salmon
DNF. Alexandre Vernazza-Thomas De Campou
DNF. Grégory Fontalba-Stéphan Hermet
1. Cyril Raymond & Yoann Lambert 20 points
3. Grégory Fontalba & Bertrand Fassio 15 points
5. Fabrice Bect 12 points
6. Raphaël Marry 10 points
7. Guy Bertrand 8 points
NC. Romuald Lamboley, Hugo Bonfils & Alexandre Vernazza 0 point