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The race to succeed Romain Di-Fante is wide open. While the driver from Nice begins his official programme with Clio Rally4, several crews will compete on the same roads of the Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais in the hope of following his winning path with Renault by adding their names to the Clio Trophy France Asphalte list of winners.

For its third season with Clio Rally5, the Clio Trophy France Asphalte once again demonstrates its undeniable success by attracting an impressive field that includes several leading French rally teams: Chazel Technologie Course, Europe Location, Fun Meca Sport, Team FJ, Naudon Rallye Services, PH Sport and Sébastien Loeb Racing, to name just a few!

After the successes of Anthony Fotia and Romain Di-Fante, now in the FIA ERC and French Rally Championship with Clio Rally4 respectively, the race for the title is looking more uncertain than ever as it is difficult to pick a favourite.

Among the leading protagonists are some drivers who competed at the sharp end of the order in 2021. Runner-up to Romain Di-Fante, Styve Juif will be a man to keep an eye on. It will be the same story for Thomas Chauffray, who won this rally last year after a faultless performance on a shortened route. Fourth at Le Touquet and in the final standings, Romain Fostier will be another driver to watch, but the list of contenders also includes Benjamin Stirling, Jérémy Sarhy, Tom Pieri, Sébastien Rambaud and Jérôme Janny, all of whom competed in the Hauts-de-France last year.

Karl Pinheiro and Patrick Magnou, who have performed well in their previous appearances, could well upset the pecking order, just as Louis Myr, coming from the French Junior Rally Championship. Pierre Paul Baltolu, who turned heads in the Clio Ice Trophy this winter, also wants to get into the battle at the front, as does Belgian Lander Dhaene, whose experience on Belgian roads could be a formidable asset in Le Touquet. Despite the numerous Juniors already mentioned, Théo Apchie, Guillaume Bonnet, Gabriel Conti, Calvin Lucas, Enzo Lucotte, Arthur Pelamourgues and Arthur Roché will all try to dictate their pace. They will share this target with two competitors making their return to the trophy, José Javier Perez and Julien Anthérieu.

It will be a fierce battle in the Women category. 2021 champion Margot Dupuy will aim to start her season with a victory but the Juniors Capucine Ouvry and Marina Breuil, the Gentlewoman Delphine Libessart and Élodie Gines will try to stop her. Meanwhile, the fight will be on the boil in the Gentlemen category, with experienced José Da Cunha, Christophe Fontaine, Jean-Pierre Lejeune, Éric Royère and Gabriel Conti all vying for top honours.

Equally ambitious, Yoan Corberand, Ugo Girardeau, Franck Giraud, Nicolas Hebrard and Sylvain Janny will also give it their all in a service park completed by the returns of Charley Trevilly, Yann Clairay, winner of the 2013 Twingo R2 Trophy, and former Twingo R1 Trophy competitor Benjamin Hanquiez.

As the ideal springboard for young hopefuls, the Clio Trophy Asphalte France will be able to witness the debut of Romain Di-Fante’s official programme with Clio Rally4 following his triumph in the Junior category last year. The two-wheel-drive national titleholder from Nice, supported by Patrick Chiappe and Naudon Rallye Services, will aim for the double with the Rally4 model. Frenchman Ludovic Godard and Briton Sara Williams, seen in Clio R3T Trophy France, will also be competing with Clio Rally4 while Frédéric Roussel will also be present outside the trophy to bring the number of Clio Rally5s racing to 40.

The 62nd Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais will start at midday on Friday, with the first loop of three stages repeated in the early evening. Crews will take on the Hucqueliers – Inxent stage, the longest test on the route with 25.34km. On Saturday, the competitors will tackle five other timed sectors, starting their day with the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage awarding bonus points. The sixteen stages will total 210.74 kilometres of action on an overall route of 561.06 km.