Sat 26 Mar 2022

Soria makes intentions clear in Clio Trophy

Paulo Soria has made the best possible start to his bid to win the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT title by going fastest on five out of six stages at the Azores Rallye today.

Season two of the entry-level, arrive-and-drive category for the Renault Clio Rally5 using Michelin tyres is getting underway on Sao Miguel Island this weekend with the first of five rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship.

After losing out on the 2021 Clio crown to Andrea Mabellini in a final-round decider, Argentine Soria is back and aiming to go one better in 2022.

With co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian by his side, Soria was more than 30 seconds ahead at midday service in Ponta Delgada following back-to-back stage bests, despite the challenging weather conditions.

“It was a good loop but for sure the conditions are so difficult,” Soria said. “We are trying to push as much as we can and not take so many risks. The idea is to arrive at the end of the rally but also keep a good pace. It’s tricky but it’s okay.”

Soria extended his advantage on Saturday afternoon’s opening two stages, arriving at SS6, Tronqueira, 58.8 seconds ahead of category newcomer Giorgio Cogni, the reigning Italian Junior champion. But a troubled run through the jungle-like test due to a broken rear-left damper allowed Cogni to slash that margin to 25.5s heading to the Grupo Marques superspecial.

Although the handling of Soria’s Clio wasn’t entirely to his liking, he was able to hit back by winning the Grupo Marques test to lead Cogni by 30.2s at the overnight halt in Ponta Delgada.

“At the beginning of the second pass of Tronqueira we just lost the damper, a bolt was broken and we did all the stage like that,” Soria said. “We don’t know what happened because we didn’t hit anything. We lose a lot of time and on the right corners it was hard to turn but we managed to arrive at the service. Apart from that it’s been a good day.”

Canary Islander Sergio Fuentes is third despite dropping time with a damaged front-right tyre on SS6. He’s followed by Hungarian teenager Patrik Herczig, who is making his ERC debut this weekend and determined to reach the finish and build his limited international event experience.

Emre Hasbay arrived at midday service with damage to the front of his Clio, picked up on the famous Tronqueira watersplash. Although repairs were made in service, the Turkish driver’s challenge was over on SS4 when he crashed.

Italian Andrea Mazzocchi rolled and retired on SS2. With SS1 cancelled for safety reasons, Mazzocchi was unable to set a stage time prior to his premature exit.

Corsican Ghjuvanni Rossi, third in last season’s Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT standings, completed SS2 with the third fastest time. But he went off on SS4 and was unable to rejoin the road, retiring from the leg as a result.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM