Franceschi, Nore and Bernardi get all-new Clio Rally4 for ERC
The FIA European Rally Championship has been selected as the perfect platform to showcase the Renault Clio Rally4 at international level.
Talented trio Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Ola Jr Nore and Florian Bernardi will contest the upcoming ERC season in the all-new Clio Rally4, which has been built to the FIA’s Rally4 regulations.
Bernardi, from France, will go for gold in the ERC3 category driving a Michelin-equipped Clio Rally4 backed by Xavier Castex and CHL Sport Auto. His fellow Frenchman Franceschi and Norwegian Nore will chase success in ERC3 and ERC3 Junior, which is for drivers born on or after January 1, 1994, competing in Rally4 cars on Pirelli tyres. Toksport WRT will run the Clio Rally4s driven by Franceschi and Nore.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator, Eurosport Events, said: “The arrival of the Clio Rally4 in the ERC is really good news and yet another example of how customer competition departments are using the ERC to showcase their products in a highly competitive environment. But it’s only part of the story because we can also count on the return to the championship of two proven winners in Florian Bernardi and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, plus an emerging young star in Ola Jr Nore.”
Benoît Nogier, Alpine Racing Commercial Racing Director, said: “We are delighted to have three Clio Rally4s in the FIA ERC in its first year of competition, and even more so with Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Ola Jr Nore and Florian Bernardi, whose ambitions are in line with ours. Jean-Baptiste and Ola are two extremely promising prospects and we also all know what Florian can do. We are confident they will extract all the potential of Clio Rally4 and compete for the FIA ERC3 and FIA ERC3 Junior titles. Clio Rally4 has been designed to become the new two-wheel-drive benchmark, and we are confident that they will be able to demonstrate this year.”
Franceschi returns to fight double in ERC
Twenty-five-year-old Jean-Baptiste Franceschi topped the ERC3 Junior category on his championship debut in 2019 and is the reigning French Gravel champion. He’s also competed successfully at FIA World Rally Championship level and is highly rated in his homeland after winning the French Junior crown in 2017. As well as Rally Islas Canarias, Franceschi has experience of the ERC-counting Barum Czech Rally Zlín and Rally Liepāja.
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi said: “I am thrilled to be back in the FIA ERC. It is a championship with an extremely high level of competition and I am also proud to be joining a French brand to represent it on the European scene. I am looking forward to discovering Clio Rally4. As we all saw in Le Touquet, the car has tremendous potential. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and see what it can do on gravel and Tarmac. We all want to be challenging at the front and beat the competition from across Europe and we’re going to do everything we can to achieve that. I can’t wait to be in Poland to start working with Renault and Toksport WRT and I’m convinced we’re all set to have a great season.”
Ola is ERC Norwegian good
Toksport WRT will enter a second Clio Rally4 for Ola Jr Nore, 20. After claiming a debut ERC3 Junior podium on Rally Hungary last November driving a Clio Rally5, Nore repeated the feat on Rally Islas Canarias. The Norwegian National Team driver will therefore look to build on that experience – and the knowledge of his Toksport WRT team and team-mate Franceschi – when he embarks on a full ERC3 Junior campaign in 2021.
Ola Jr Nore said: “I am very excited and have high expectations for the freshly developed Clio Rally4. It will be interesting to see how fast I can learn the car. As a rookie in the ERC am I looking very much forward to all the different rallies and getting back in the car after a long break. Together with my new co-driver Jørgen Eriksen and Toksport WRT I’ll do my very best to challenge the more experienced drivers throughout the season.”
Bernardi is back for more ERC success
Florian Bernardi, 32, returns to the ERC as a two-time winner in the ERC3 category courtesy of two class triumphs on Rally Islas Canarias in 2018 and 2019. Bernardi, who won the Clio Trophy France in 2018, finished runner-up in the 2020 French Gravel championship driving a Clio Rally5.
Florian Bernardi said: “In 2020, we were in Clio Rally5, and for 2021 we will be in Clio Rally4 thanks to the support of our partners and Renault. We plan to enter as many events as possible, starting with Poland, to perform well in every rally and on every surface. I would like to warmly thank my loyal partners who have followed me for several seasons and those who have joined us more recently in this adventure, and I hope to welcome new ones so that I can enter enough rallies to aim for the title.”
Preparations continue for Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT
In addition to the debut of the Clio Rally4 in the ERC, the new-for-2021 Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT will take place across five rounds of the European championship season, starting with ORLEN 77th Rally Poland from June 18-20. A joint initiative from Renault Sport Racing, Toksport WRT and Eurosport Events details of the arrive-and-drive series for the Michelin-equipped Clio Rally5 will be announced soon.
FIA European Rally Championship 2021 calendar
Round 1: ORLEN 77th Rally Poland (Gravel), June 18-20, 2021
Round 2: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel), July 1-3, 2021
Round 3: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy, asphalt), July 23-25, 2021
Round 4: 50th Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Asphalt), August 27-29, 2021
Round 5: 55th Azores Rallye (Gravel), September 16-18, 2021
Round 6: Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras (Portugal, gravel), October 1-3, 2021
Round 7: Rally Hungary (Asphalt), October 22-24, 2021
Round 8: Rally Islas Canarias (Asphalt), November 18-20, 2021