Fri 03 Nov 2023

ERC salutes Bonato after French rally history is made

The FIA European Rally Championship is saluting Yoann Bonato and co-driver Benjamin Boulloud after they became the first pairing to claim a French national rally title five times.

Competing in a Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 Rally2, the two-time ERC event winners set the new benchmark with victory on Critérium des Cévennes last weekend.  

Afterwards, 40-year-old Bonato said: “I never thought when I started this sport, more than 20 years ago, that I would become the first driver to win five French champion titles. And the story is beautiful because all these titles happened with Benjamin, my very first co-pilot, and above all my childhood friend. 

“But the scenario is even better because they were all also won with the same team, CHL Sport Auto, the same brand, Citroën Racing and the same tyre manufacturer, Michelin. In short, this fifth crown rewards the hard work of a whole group of people who give their best in each race, who question themselves before each start and who have only one ambition: to win and win again. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by all these people, our faithful partners and our families and friends who are our first support.”

As well as their French Tarmac Championship campaign, Bonato and Boulloud contested four ERC rounds in 2023. They won Rally Islas Canarias in May and should have been on the Rally di Roma Capitale podium in July but for tyre damage late in the event. They also finished fifth on the Fafe season opener and took fourth on Rally Hungary last month.  

And there was more success by an ERC driver to celebrate last weekend when Mads Østberg, the Rally Hungary winner (below), linked up with Sergiu Itu to take victory on TESS Rally Brașov by a margin of almost five minutes aboard a Citroën C3 Rally2. The event was the final round of the Romanian championship, which ERC regular Simone Tempestini had already secured for an eighth time.

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