Alpine Elf Rally Trophy - Roche extends his lead

Alpine Elf Rally Trophy - Roche extends his lead

The Alpine Elf Rally Trophy crews wrapped up the first half of their season at the Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie.
Defending champions Pierre and Martine Roché won the duel for victory ahead of their predecessors, Grégory Fontalba and Stéphan Hermet.
Quentin Gilbert won in the French Two-Wheel Drive Rally Championship and finished fourth overall in his A110 Rally.
The Alpine A110 Rallye GT+ continued to show its potential, with Raphaël Astier setting three overall fastest times.

Nearly two months after the Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur, the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy competitors met in Rodez for the Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie, the third fixture on the calendar.

Trophy leader Pierre Roché struck first, setting the pace on the opening special stage ahead of Grégory Fontalba and Jérémy Crétien, whose hopes of a good result vanished when he went off on SS2. At the same time, Grégory Fontalba went on the attack with three consecutive fastest times. Thanks to his superb run through the emblematic Campouriez - Le Nayrac test, he even took the lead and returned to the service park 9.3s ahead of Pierre Roché. Matthieu Fassio was third behind Sergio Pinto and Sébastien Maurel.

Pierre Roché again set the fastest time in Rodelle on the second loop. The Team FJ driver matched his rival's time in Villecomtal - Campuac. Despite Grégory Fontalba's reply on SS7, Pierre Roché fought back to finish the day just 1.3s off the pace. Still in third place, Matthieu Fassio kept Sergio Pinto at bay after the accident of trophy newcomer Sébastien Maurel.

Under threatening skies, Pierre Roché regained the lead on Saturday morning. His rival fought back in the rain in the following section, but the new leader put the hammer down on the wet roads of Luc-la-Primaube - Moyrazès to extend his advantage at 24.3s at the end of a morning marked by the retirement of Sergio Pinto.

The title-holder increased his lead in the first two timed sectors of the decisive loop to relegate Grégory Fontalba to 36.6s. After a final run through Moyrazès and the final super-stage in Rodez, Pierre Roché sealed his second victory of the season by 28.8s from Grégory Fontalba, who won in the Gentlemen category. Pierre Roché also beat Matthieu Fassio in the Challengers category, the Code Racing Development driver scoring his maiden podium finish in the all-A110 Rally competition.

Pierre Roché's success consolidates his position at the top of the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy, where he now leads Grégory Fontalba by 18 points. Matthieu Fassio also capitalised on his strong result to move up to fifth overall.

On the same roads in Aveyron, the Alpine A110 Rally once again won the French Two-Wheel Drive Rally Championship in the hands of Quentin Gilbert, the leader of a sweep of the top four by the A-arrow brand. Lastly, the A110 Rallye GT+ continued to show its impressive potential with three stages won by Raphaël Astier, who was third before getting caught out in the slippery conditions of SS10.

After the summer break, the Alpine Elf Rallye Trophy heads into the second half of its season at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (5-7 September).

Pierre Roché: "It was a good weekend for us, despite the challenge from Grégory Fontalba, which is no less of a positive point given how much he has improved. We had a pretty enjoyable battle, and it's always nice to see a new rival emerge. He's pushed me to drive hard, and the fight will be all the better if all the front-runners turn up at Mont-Blanc!"

Grégory Fontalba: "It was a rally in two phases. On a sunny Friday, we did everything to stay as close as possible to Pierre. The following day was tougher, with scattered showers. Sometimes, it was just a question of surviving, so we strategically chose our tyres to ensure we reached the finish on Saturday evening."

Matthieu Fassio: "We continue to narrow the gap to the leaders, especially in the dry as we did on the opening leg. Unfortunately, we had no experience with the Alpine A110 Rally in the rain, so Saturday was more complicated, and we played it safe to seal third place. My aim for the second half of the season will be to finish all the rallies and get to know all the special stages before aiming for better next year."

1. Pierre Roché – Martine Roché 2h07m15.3s
2. Grégory Fontalba – Stéphan Hermet +28.8s
3. Matthieu Fassio – Hugo Olivier +4m59.4s
Ret. Sergio Pinto – Charlène Greppin
Ret. Sébastien Maurel – David Laborie
Ret. Jérémy Crétien – Xavier Rouchouze

General classification
1. Pierre Roché 55 points
2. Grégory Fontalba 37 points
3. Ludovic Godard 27 points
4. Yann Clairay 21 points
5. Matthieu Fassio 20 points
6. Jérémy Crétien 18 points
7. Fabrice Bect 8 points
8. Sergio Pinto 8 points
9. Jean-François Mourgues 6 points
10. Guy Bertrand 3 points
11. Éric Giannini 0 point
12. Sébastien Maurel 0 point

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