Practically two months after his victory in Langres, William Wagner followed up his performance with another win – this time in France’s Lozère region – to ease into the provisional lead of this year’s 208 Rally Cup. The PH Sport driver completed the weekend’s particularly dramatic action clear of Pepe Lopez (Sainteloc Racing) and Patrick Magnou (Arcautocompetition).
♦ William Wagner and Pepe Lopez have consequently pulled out something of a gap at the top of the 208 Rally Cup standings, split by just one point with three rounds remaining.
♦ The Rallye Terre de Lozère – Sud de France was a fiercely contested affair as William Wagner, Pepe Lopez, Patrick Magnou and Guillaume de Mevius all appeared in contention for the win to provide further evidence of the quality of the 2016 208 Rally Cup field.
♦ Fourteen 208R2s reached the finish despite the toll taken on the cars and competitors by the searing heat.
After failing to add to his points tally in Langres, Pepe Lopez was eager to bounce back this weekend and the Spaniard hit the ground running to claim the opening stage. He was then fastest again on the ‘Born’ (23km) – billed as the hardest test of the rally. William Wagner, who was down on confidence, Jérémie Toedtli (CHL Sport Auto), who reported a small ‘off’, and Andrea Carella (Power Car Team), who reported poor pace notes, all conceded valuable seconds. Taisko Lario (CHL Sport Auto) followed up fourth fastest on SS1 by crashing out for good
The third stage saw Lopez go top again to conclude the first loop with cushions of 22.2s and 37.5s over Patrick Magnou and Guillaume de Mevius (PH Sport) respectively.
On the repeat loop, Patrick Magnou provided a timely glimpse of his speed, especially on SS4 which caused havoc in the 208 Rally Cup ranks as Jean-Paul Monnin, Antoine Rocard and Joël Guerrero all joined Olivier Ramiandrisoa, Andrea Carella and Guillaume De Ridder on the day’s list of retirements. In contrast, Nil Solans (Mavisa Sport) recovered from a difficult morning to win ‘Born 2’, while Jérémie Toedtli made up for lost ground early on with the best effort on the leg’s final test. At this stage, the top three featured Pepe Lopez, Patrick Magnou and Guillaume de Mevius, chased by William Wagner. More at ease in the afternoon, he ended up ahead of Nil Solans, Jérémie Toedtli, Joachim Wagemans (Triman) and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi who rounded out the top eight.
As Pepe Lopez continued to perform strongly on the second day, Guillaume de Mevius posted the fastest time on SS7, but Patrick Magnou damaged his steering on the same test which also saw William Wagner lose 10 or so seconds with a ‘straight on’. Jérémie Toedtli was side-lined when his car caught fire after an accident.
The outcome was basically settled on SS8, however, when Pepe Lopez punctured shortly after the start line, losing an estimated 50 seconds in the process. Another best time for Guillaume de Mevius handed the lead to the Belgian youngster, but Nil Solans retired from fifth position due to a mechanical problem. The short super-special in the streets of Mende had little effect on the order and, with just two stages remaining, de Mevius was in front, ahead of Pepe Lopez (+9s), William Wagner (+17s) and Patrick Magnou (+23s).
After failing to reach the end in Langres due to an ‘off’, Guillaume de Mevius was this time thwarted by a puncture on SS10 where he lost all hope of securing his first 208 Rally Cup victory. Patrick Magnou managed to keep his eye on the ball, while William Wagner finished in style with a second straight stage victory as Pepe Lopez squandered 10 seconds in a spin. With one stage to go, William Wagner, Pepe Lopez, Patrick Magnou and Guillaume de Mevius were covered by 22 seconds.
Frustratingly, the final test was cancelled, and that handed the victory to William Wagner who was ultimately classified ahead of Pepe Lopez (highest number of stage wins) and Patrick Magnou. Guillaume de Mevius had to settle for fourth spot.
Joachim Wagemans (Triman) pocketed a brilliant fifth place, ahead of Aki Sahila (CHL Sport Auto) who picked up points for the second time in a row. The top 10 was rounded out by Yann Clairay, who was in good form to celebrated his return to the 208 Rally Cup fold, Quentin Ribaud (CHL Sport Auto), Ashley Haigh-Smith (Pit Stop) and Thomas Baudoin (Chazel Technologie Course) who all earned points.
After consecutive gravel rounds, the 208 R2s will return to asphalt trim when the series resumes on September 15-17 with the Rallye du Vosgien where the new leader of the 208 Rally Cup will be keen to build on his two straight victories on home turf!
FINAL POSITIONS – RALLYE TERRE DE LOZÈRE - SUD DE FRANCE (Round 4 of 7)*
1, William Wagner/Antoine Paque, 1h28m13.1s (Junior)
2, Pepe Lopez/Borja Rozada, +1.0s (Junior) (highest number of stage wins)
3, Patrick Magnou/Benoît Manzo, +6.8s
4, Guillaume de Mevius/Louis Louka, +22.0s (Junior)
5, Joachim Wagemans/Andy De Baeremaeker, +1m42.2s (Junior)
6, Aki Sahila/Rami Suorsa, +1m55.2s (Junior)
7, Yann Clairay/Frédéric Goupil, +3m25.5s
8, Quentin Ribaud/Benoît Balme, +4m29.6s (Junior)
9, Ashley Haigh-Smith/Niall Burns, +4m38.1s
10, Thomas Baudoin/Arnaud Cubizolles, +6m59.8s (Junior)
11, Sam Taveneau/Clément Point, +7m16.8s (Junior)
12, Efren Llarena/Sara Fernandez, +8m47.6s
13, Jose Luis Pelaez/Enrique Velasco, +9m19.1s
14, Alexandre Mollard/Nicolas Eymin, +22m29.7s
PROVISIONAL 208 RALLY CUP STANDINGS AFTER THE RALLYE TERRE DE LOZÈRE - SUD DE FRANCE (Round 4 of 7)*
1, William Wagner, 60 points (Junior)
2, Pepe Lopez, 59 points (Junior)
3, Patrick Magnou, 28 points
4, Jérémie Toedtli, 24 points (Junior)
5, Nil Solans (Junior) and Andrea Carella, 22 points
7, Quentin Ribaud, 20 points (Junior)
* Subject to the publication of the final results and to the approval of the results by Peugeot Sport