After a long battle with Cyril Raymond, Grégory Fontalba becomes the third different winner in as many rallies contested this year in the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy.
Thanks to his victory on the challenging roads of the Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie, Grégory Fontalba now leads the general classification, which is still wide open at the midway point of the season.
Second at the finish, Fabrice Bect won the Gentlemen category and is now second in the trophy ahead of Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (8-10 September).
Already at the sharp end of the order at the season-opening Rallye Rhône Charbonnières before their second duel was cut short early on at Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur, Cyril Raymond and Grégory Fontalba were back in the thick of things at Laissac.
In sweltering conditions, Cyril Raymond struck first with the best time on the opening two stages on Friday, including the longest timed sector of the rally, Campouriez - Le Nayrac. Despite a 14.2s lead, the leader had to deal with a power loss on SS3, which Grégory Fontalba took advantage of to convert his deficit into a 10.5-second advantage when he returned to the service park. Thanks to a treble of top-three finishes, Fabrice Bect moved up to third place overall and first in the Gentlemen category.
In the afternoon, Cyril Raymond went back on the offensive, dominating SS4, but Grégory Fontalba fought back in the last two timed sectors of the day to extend his lead to 21.2s. Fabrice Bect was nearly a minute behind the two leaders but had more than five minutes in hand from Jean-Luc Roché and Romuald Lamboley, both of whom moved up one place after Bertrand Fassio's retirement.
The duel resumed on Saturday morning, once more under the impetus of Cyril Raymond. The rallycross champion attacked on Lévézou to trim his deficit to 7.9s, but Grégory Fontalba answered on the following timed sector before the emblematic Luc - Moyrazès stage became decisive when Cyril Raymond crashed out of the rally.
With nearly two minutes in hand from Fabrice Bect before the last loop, Grégory Fontalba won the final three stages to seal his first victory in 2022. Fabrice Bect finished second and won the Gentlemen Category ahead of Jean-Luc Roché, who got the better of Romuald Lamboley by 17.1s in what was a fierce battle until the last kilometre.
Thanks to his victory, Grégory Fontalba now has an eight-point lead over Fabrice Bect in the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy. Several competitors, however, are still in contention, especially as only the five best results will count at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, the Alpine A110 Rally excelled, once again in the hands of Cédric Robert. The rally veteran finished sixth place overall against the leaders in the national scene in Rally2 to retain third place in the French Tarmac Rally Championship and regain the lead in the French two-wheel-drive Championship.
After the summer break, the Alpine Elf Trophy Rally will resume in the autumn, kicking off the second half of the season on Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (8-10 September).