Bonato’s previous personal best on an ERC gravel event was the eighth place he claimed in Fafe in 2021.
But after overcoming the rain-hit Saturday leg on Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto, Bonato went on a Sunday surge to complete his comeback from the lower reaches of the top 30 in his Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 Rally2.
“I’m very satisfied, it’s a really good result for us, especially on this surface,” said the four-time French Tarmac champion. “It’s our best result definitely and we are so happy. Today [Sunday] was a perfect day with no mud, getting drier and a real pleasure to be here. We don’t have any problem.”
Co-driven by fellow Frenchman Benjamin Boulloud, Bonato explained what had made his leg two leap possible.
“It was because of the conditions,” he said. “Yesterday you needed a lot of experience in these kinds of [muddy] conditions and I don’t have the experience on gravel and that’s why I was not so fast yesterday. Today was better for me, easier, and the grip was more consistent and easier and the Michelin tyre was very good.”
Bonato, who took his maiden ERC win in Catalunya last October, will switch his focus back to asphalt for the French Tarmac championship opener – Rallye Le Touquet - Pas-de-Calais – this weekend, an event he last won in 2021.
He will be back on duty when Rally Islas Canarias hosts the second event of the season from 4 - 6 May.