At the end of an event characterised by challenging conditions on the opening day, William Wagner clinched his maiden victory in the 208 Rally Cup ahead of Patrick Magnou and Jérémie Toedtli. After stealing the show at the beginning of the weekend, Guillaume de Mevius was ultimately forced out of contention following an accident on SS7.
♦ William Wagner’s breakthrough success has vaulted him to within a single point of Pepe Lopez (who finished 15th in Langres) in the overall 208 Rally Cup classification.
♦ De Mevius had to be content with the three points he earned for posting the highest number of fastest stage times.
♦ Out of the 24-strong field of 208 R2 cars that started the rally on Saturday morning, only 15 reached the finish following a series of accidents. That underscored the difficulty of the event in northeast France whose first leg was shortened by more than 30 kilometres as a result of heavy rain in the build-up to the weekend.
William Wagner might have drawn first blood in Langres by winning SS1, but it was his PH Sport team-mate Guillaume de Mevius who would go on to dominate the event’s opening leg. Overcoming a puncture to move to the top of the standings at the end of the second timed stage, the Belgian then extended his advantage with two further consecutive fastest times in the 208 Rally Cup – even going second-quickest outright through SS3! De Mevius’ task was facilitated by mistakes from AFC Racing duo Emmanuel Gascou and François-Xavier Blanc, while Jean-Baptiste Franceschi retired for personal reasons having earlier conceded vital seconds with a minor impact in SS2. Following Gascou and Blanc’s accidents, a number of competitors – William Wagner, Quentin Ribaud, Efren Llarena and Jérémie Toedtli notably amongst them – were attributed notional times.
When the afternoon came around, the surfaces were drying out and, as de Mevius concentrated on consolidating his morning margin, Pepe Lopez and Nil Solans (Mavisa Sport) grabbed a share of the limelight by each winning a special stage. This meant that at the end of the rally’s opening leg, de Mevius led Solans – one of the few drivers to truly revel in the tricky conditions – and Patrick Magnou (Pit Stop), whose performance confirmed the progress he has made on gravel since the beginning of the season. Finland’s Aki Sahila placed a surprising fourth for CHL Sport Auto ahead of Wagner, who rounded out the top five. Lopez remained a threat in sixth position, with the top ten completed by CHL Sport Auto pairing Taisko Lario and Toedtli – the latter having survived a small impact in SS6 – self-confessed Langres fan Jean-Paul Monnin (AFC Racing) and Ribaud (CHL Sport Auto).
Although the sun returned for the second day of action, the route remained treacherous indeed. Unchallenged since virtually the start of the rally, de Mevius found himself caught out and suffered a hefty accident on SS7. He was joined in retirement shortly afterwards by Solans, who similarly fell victim to an overdose of optimism. With the top two departing the fray in swift succession, Wagner seized control of proceedings by posting the fastest time through the infamous SS7, where Thomas Baudoin (Chazel Technologie Course) and Ashley Haigh-Smith (Pit Stop) also came to grief.
Wagner intelligently paced himself through the final stage to bring his car safely home for a well-deserved victory, underlining the step forward he has made this year. Magnou held on to take the runner-up spoils despite picking up a late puncture. Toedtli wound up third ahead of Ribaud, with each of them setting a fastest stage time along the way. After focusing his efforts on climbing the leaderboard following a cautious first leg, Monnin fulfilled his objective to the letter by annexing fifth position. Sahila (CHL Sport Auto), Guillaume De Ridder, (Pit Stop), Lario (CHL Sport Auto), Andrea Carella and Joachim Wagemans (Triman) were the remaining top ten finishers and points-scorers of the weekend.
Early-season pace-setter Lopez (Sainteloc Racing) endured a difficult end to the rally. Having already lost ground on the opening day, the Spaniard subsequently encountered a number of mechanical issues over the course of the second leg, relegating him to the last of the final finishers, behind Joël Guerrero, Olivier Ramiandrisoa (Sainteloc Racing), Llarena (Race Seven) and Antoine Rocard (PH Sport) Following a two-month break, competitors in the 208 Rally Cup will renew battle at another gravel-based event as the Rallye Terre de Lozère - Sud de France gets set to host the fourth round of the 2016 campaign on August 26-28.
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION OF THE RALLYE TERRE DE LANGRES HAUTE-MARNE (3/7)*
1. William Wagner / Antoine Paque 1h12m00.1s (Junior) 2. Patrick Magnou / Benoît Manzo +36.2s 3. Jérémie Toedtli / Alexandre Chioso +55.5s (Junior) 4. Quentin Ribaud / Benoît Balme +1m10.8s (Junior) 5. Jean-Paul Monnin / Franck Gilliot +1m17.9s 6. Aki Sahila / Rami Suorsa +1m50.0s (Junior) 7. Guillaume De Ridder / Loïc Declerck +1m59.7s (Junior) 8. Taisko Lario / Sami Ryynänen +2m02.3s (Junior) 9. Andrea Carella / Henrico Bracchi +2m16.0s 10. Joachim Wagemans / Andy De Baeremaeker +2m21.3s (Junior) 11 .Joël Guerrero / Xevi Moreno +2m41.3s 12. Olivier Ramiandrisoa / Thomas Santiago +2m42.7s (Junior) 13. Efren Llarena / Sara Fernandez +3m43.1s 14. Antoine Rocard / Romain Garel +5m29.5s (Junior) 15. Pepe Lopez / Borja Rozada +10m59.2s (Junior)
208 RALLY CUP STANDINGS AFTER THE RALLYE TERRE DE LANGRES HAUTE-MARNE (3/7)*
1. Pepe Lopez 41pts (Junior) 2. William Wagner 40pts (Junior) 3. Jérémie Toedtli - 24pts (Junior) 4. Nil Solans (Junior) / Andrea Carella 22pts 6. Quentin Ribaud 17pts (Junior) 7. Patrick Magnou 16pts 8. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi 15pts (Junior) 9. Emmanuel Gascou 14pts 10. Jean-Paul Monnin 9pts 11. Bruno Riberi 7pts 12. Stéphane Consani 6pts 13. Guillaume de Mevius 3pts (Junior) 14. Efren Llarena 2pts
*subject to final checks