Turkish Rally Champion Volkan Isik lights up Clio Ice Trophy

Turkish Rally Champion Volkan Isik lights up Clio Ice Trophy

Two-time Turkish Rally Champion Volkan Isik (Puzzle Motorsport) made the most of his vast experience in the opening round of the 2024 Clio Ice Trophy season. The Turk combined performance and consistency to score maximum intermediate points in qualifying before extending his lead in the general classification despite the victories of Antonio Otero (Puzzle Motorsport) and Charlie Freard (WRM by Chanoine Motorsport / SRD Racing) in the finals.

Season three of the Clio Ice Trophy opened on Saturday, with the first of four meetings on the calendar. In free practice, the 16 drivers discovered a 754-metre counter-clockwise track for the first configuration of the Pas de la Casa Circuit offered by the Andbank GSeries. In perfect snow conditions at an altitude of 2,400 metres, Antonio Otero set the pace in the first group on track, setting a best lap of 56.114s before holding on to the lead ahead of Daniel Del Villar (Puzzle Motorsport) and Guillermo Millan (Driveland).

The hierarchy changed in the first qualifying session. While Antonio Otero once again dominated his group, Christophe Casanova (Casanova Sport Auto) and then Daniel Del Villar (Puzzle Motorsport) took over at the top. Daniel Del Villar claimed pole position for the A Final, as did the Corsican for the B Final. Antonio Otero, Volkan Isik (Puzzle Motorsport) and Yannick Francisci (Casanova Sport Auto) completed the top five.

The first points of the season were attributed according to the time taken by each competitor to complete six laps in Q2. In this exercise rewarding performance and consistency, Antonio Otero, Christophe Casanova and Daniel Del Villar confirmed their excellent predispositions, but Volkan Isik was the quickest by 0.331s. Despite the attempts of Yannick Francisci, who eventually came third, the Turk scored the maximum 15 points by leading an incredibly competitive top five covered by less than four seconds.

The poleman for the B Final, Christophe Casanova, conceded several positions at the start. Second on the grid, Antonio Otero took advantage to take first place ahead of Quentin Ribaud (WRM by Chanoine Motorsport / SRD Racing) and Ercan Kazaz (Puzzle Motorsport). The gaps quickly widened, and the trio remained unchanged until the finish despite the best efforts of Guillermo Millan. Christophe Casanova had to settle for fifth place after overtaking Alain Cusimano (WRM by Chanoine Motorsport / SRD Racing) and Jordi Queralto (Brunet Competition), while Paul Trojani (Casanova Sport Auto) closed the gap after being caught out at the start.

Starting the A Final on pole, Daniel Del Villar also lost his advantage in the opening metres when Charlie Freard used all his rallycross experience to leap from fourth to first place. Under heavy pressure from his pursuers, Charlie Freard resisted brilliantly to win ahead of Volkan Isik, who overtook Daniel Del Villar on lap four. Markel De Zabaleta (Driveland), who was fourth for most of the race, finally lost out to Alex Queralto (Brunet Competition) and Yannick Francesci late in the running. Pierre Vivier (Casanova Sport Auto) and Gautier Sarhy (WRM by Chanoine Motorsport / SRD Racing) followed in that order.

Thanks to the points he picked up with the fastest time in Q2 and his second place in the A Final, Volkan Isik now leads the Clio Ice Trophy by four points from Antonio Otero and six from Charlie Freard. The field will meet again next Saturday on another configuration of the Pas de la Casa Circuit for round two of the campaign, where some new protagonists will attempt to upset this early hierarchy.

Volkan Isik: "Today was not only my first time in Andorra but also my first time driving the Clio. I really enjoyed it on the Pas de la Casa Circuit. I was very happy to be there, and to finish the first round at the top of the general classification is the icing on the cake. A big thank you to the Puzzle Motorsport team for all their hard work and to the Clio Ice Trophy organisers for their warm welcome. Thank you all very much!"

General classification - Round 1/4
1. Volkan Isik 36 points
2. Antonio Otero 32 points
3. Charlie Freard 30 points
4. Daniel Del Villar 30 points
5. Quentin Ribaud 25 points
6. Yannick Francisci 22 points
7. Ercan Kazaz 20 points
8. Christophe Casanova 20 points
9. Guillermo Millan 16 points
10. Alex Queralto 14 points
11. Alain Cusimano 8 points
12. Markel De Zabaleta 8 points
13. Pierre Vivier 5 points
14. Jordi Queralto 5 points
15. Gautier Sarhy 4 points
16. Paul Trojani 3 points

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