Clio Rally5 hits another significant milestone in its career by winning its first national title in France in the hands of Quentin Ribaud.
The winner of the inaugural Clio Trophy France Terre season continued his winning ways by leading Renault to its first French championship since Simon Jean-Joseph and the Clio S1600 triumphed in the 2003 French S1600 Championship.
Ever since its competitive debut on the 2020 Rally Guanajuato Mexico, Clio Rally5 confirmed its potential on gravel, notably with Jean-Sébastien Vigion and Florian Bernardi, who finished second in the 2020 French 2WD Gravel Rally Championship.
As part of his victorious campaign in this year’s Clio Trophy France Terre, Quentin Ribaud had taken the lead in the general classification ahead of the season-finale on Rallye Terre de Vaucluse. The Frenchman once again excelled behind the wheel of Clio Rally5, dominating the RC5 class with ten fastest times in as many special stages. Teamed with Mélissa Declerck, the Vaucluse native went on to win by nearly four minutes while battling with the cars of the higher categories to finish second among the two-wheel-drive cars.
With this third class win in 2021, Quentin Ribaud clinches the French 2WD Gravel title and the first crown in open competition in France for Clio Rally5. Even better, the pair gave Renault its first national title since the French S1600 Championship won by Simon Jean-Joseph in 2003.
Evidence of its excellent level of competitiveness, the Clio Trophy France Terre sees three of its drivers - Quentin Ribaud, Jean-Paul Monnin and John Laroche - finishing into the top ten of the 2WD category in 2021. Quentin Ribaud also finished an impressive seventh place in the final classification of the French Gravel Rally Championship.
As the best Junior in the latest feeder series initiated by Alpine Racing, Quentin Ribaud is now about to enter the preparation phase of his official Clio Rally4 programme in 2022. Meanwhile, his tarmac counterpart Romain Di-Fante will attempt to emulate him by heading to the Rallye du Var (November 25-28) as the leader of the 2WD category in the French Tarmac Rally Championship.
Quentin Ribaud : "We are thrilled to win this rather unexpected title as we only focused on the Clio Trophy France Terre until this weekend. After the Cardabelles, we saw that we were in a good position, so we decided to take on the challenge of the Rallye Terre de Vaucluse. We managed our rally with an eye on our main rivals to seal this title and I still don’t believe it. It is the culmination of a truly perfect season with BHR, 3P Racing, Mélissa, as well as our partners and Renault who helped us to be here this weekend. I would also like to thank the team who did a lot to make sure we could compete this year. It’s a great pleasure to have people like Patrick Magaud and Patrice Fabre offering us such a great programme this year. I am extremely grateful to them, as I am to Bastien Héron, his mechanics and David Bertrand, who have allowed us to race in fantastic conditions. We will now focus on our preparation with Clio Rally4 to prove the car’s potential on gravel next year !"
Benoît Nogier, Alpine Racing commercial racing director : "We would like to congratulate Quentin, Mélissa and their team for this national title, which they won with flying colours in the face of fierce and tough competition. As he has done all year in Clio Trophy France Terre, Quentin has shown maturity by quickly finding the perfect balance to push and manage his rally, dominate his category, battle with the best crews in superior classes and secure the title. This first title in France is another highlight of Clio’s 30th anniversary in competition. We are all the more delighted as it confirms the exceptional success of Clio Rally5 and its glorious predecessors, such as the Clio S1600. It also shows the great level and learning platform offered by the dedicated Clio Rally5 trophies, and we now look forward to seeing if Romain Di-Fante can emulate Quentin Ribaud on tarmac in ten days !"
Photos : DPPI / Bastien Roux