A fortnight after Quentin Ribaud’s gravel crown, Clio Rally5 became the French two-wheel-drive Tarmac Rally Champion as Romain Di-Fante sealed his title on the Rallye du Var. The Clio Trophy France Asphalte winner collected his fifth success of the season, and in doing so, secured Renault’s fourth major rally title in what has been a historic November for the brand.
With the Clio Trophy France Asphalte title sewn up, Romain Di-Fante went to the final round of the calendar with the lead in the French two-wheel-drive Tarmac Rally Championship thanks to his four class wins and seven podium finishes achieved during the year. Chased by competitors with impressive records and entered in the higher categories, the native of Nice had nevertheless to win in the Rallye du Var to seal his title.
Romain Di-Fante was immediately up to speed from Friday, relegating his pursuers to more than twenty seconds. With six more fastest times in seven timed sectors on increasingly wet and muddy roads the following day, the Naudon Rallye Services driver extended his lead. With an advantage of almost ninety seconds, the leader managed his pace while setting two additional fastest times on Sunday to win with a 1:27.2s margin of victory.
This fifth success of the season in RC5/Rally5 allowed Romain Di-Fante to claim the French two-wheel-drive Tarmac Rally Championship, just two weeks after Quentin Ribaud’s triumph on gravel. Proof of its incredible versatility, Clio Rally5 won on both surfaces against competitors with cars from the higher classes. The two hopefuls also finished in the overall top ten of their respective French Championships.
This new major title - the fourth in 14 days - also adds to the two European crowns won in the FIA ERC by Clio Rally4 and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, who Renault wishes a speedy recovery after his accident on SS12.
The best Junior in the Clio Trophy France Asphalte, Romain Di-Fante will receive an official French Rally Championship programme with Clio Rally4 next year. He has already had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of his future car as he won his class at the Autumn Rally in La Rochelle in early November.
Romain Di-Fante: "This rally went very well for us, just like our season. We did our race and only pushed on Saturday as the accidents of Ludovic Gal and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi calmed us down a bit. The conditions were not easy, but I had the feeling that the grip was more consistent in the rain as some sections remained very greasy in the dry. Managing pace was the key to this weekend and we saw once again that the Clio was up to the job, even with limited risk-taking. We opened up a gap on our rivals in the category, which allowed us to take it easy on Sunday to avoid the pitfalls and bring this title to Renault to celebrate Clio’s 30th anniversary in competition. It was an honour to fight ’at a distance’ with drivers like Cédric Robert. To beat these same competitors is an incredible feeling. I remember the posters of Cédric Robert and his Clios in my bedroom. I used to go and watch him on the Rallye du Var or at the Lyon-Charbonnières, where his handbrake turns at Marchampt fascinated me. It was at a time when I was starting to be allowed to go on the internet and I was dazzled by Cédric’s driving and talent. Today he has a few more grey hairs, but I am proud and honoured to have the chance to compete against him! This title concludes a more than perfect year. We’ve had a great time, and I would like to thank Patrick, the Naudon Rallye Services team and also Renault as we owe this title to the incredible reliability of Clio Rally5. We had a terrific campaign, and I can’t wait to get back in the Clio Rally4 to get even closer to the front of the order and have an even better season in 2022!"
Benoît Nogier, Commercial Racing Director, Alpine Racing: "With the French two-wheel-drive Tarmac Rally Championship, we are proud to see Romain Di-Fante, Patrick Chiappe and the Naudon Rallye Services team add another title to their list of accomplishments. Well done to them for their successful season. Romain won rallies with very different profiles between the Vosges, the Mont-Blanc, the Cœur de France, Antibes and the Var. His unfailing consistency was another of his title-winning attributes. This quality enabled him to rise to the challenge of this season-finale in tricky conditions. We are particularly pleased to have achieved the gravel-tarmac double in the French Championship for Clio’s 30th anniversary in competition. Our new model had an exceptional month in November with two major titles on the national stage and two European crowns. We now look forward to keeping this momentum with Romain and Quentin in France, but also in many other countries from next year. Lastly, our thoughts are with Jean-Baptiste Franceschi who, like Anthony Fotia, was one of our best asset this season. We all wish Jean-Baptiste a speedy recovery."