Thanks to his eight stage wins earlier in the event, the Frenchman began Sunday’s competition with a comfortable 2m45.6s lead over closest rival Keith Cronin.
Unsurprisingly, Chardonnet took no risks on the final two stages, giving away a little of his advantage to safeguard his lead, before finally taking the victory by 2m24.3s. Germany’s Christian Riedemann claimed the final podium place, more than 20 minutes further back. All three – like all the WRC 3 crews in Germany - were driving Citroen DS3 R3 cars.
“We can be pleased with the result this weekend. The conditions were really tough and we managed to keep out of trouble,” said Chardonnet. “You had to make the right calls, at the right time. We did just that, and it paid off. I’d really like to thank Thibault [de la Haye – co-driver] and the team who did a great job and gave me a fantastic DS3 R3!”
Cronin meanwhile admitted he had been fortunate to finish as the runner-up. After picking up a puncture on the 14 kilometre-long Sauertal stage, the three-time British Rally champion lined up at the start of Moselland nine minutes late having repaired a technical problem on his car.
He managed to maintain good pace to hold onto his second position even though he was hampered by another car that went off on Sunday’s first stage.
“We’re pleased with the result. The conditions were really tough but the rally worked out well in the end,” commented the Irish driver.
After going off on SS4, Riedemann wasn’t expecting to finish on the final podium. However, having rejoined the rally under Rally2 rules on Saturday, he matched the pace of the leaders and gradually closed on Mohammed Al Mutawaa. After claiming the fastest time on the first run on Dhrontal, he managed to snatch third place from the Emirati driver.
“What a weekend! Obviously, we’re disappointed with this result at our home event, but we’re not giving up yet, however. We’ll be trying to win in France,” he said.
Meanwhile, the winner of the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Selections said he was ‘thrilled’ with his first experience on tarmac in the DS3 R3. He finished fourth in the standings.
Quentin Gilbert rounded off the top five after a testing rally. Forced to retire after a technical problem before starting the second loop on Friday, the young Frenchman rejoined on Saturday under Rally2 rules. Unfortunately, he hit a rock within the first few kilometres of Saturday’s first stage and had to retire for a second time. On Sunday, the winner of the 2012 French Citroën Racing Trophy was hampered by a puncture.