Gilbert holds edge in French WRC 2 fight
Close battle between Gilbert and Sousa for WRC 2 supremacy
The Frenchman beat Bernardo Sousa by 8.1sec after an enthralling duel between the Ford Fiesta drivers over all three days of this 11th round of the series.
Gilbert led after the opening leg but power steering problems in his Fiesta R5 allowed Sousa into the lead in his RRC version on the second morning.
He fought back to the front and although Sousa narrowed the deficit to less than six seconds on the final day, a penultimate stage spin for the Portuguese pilot proved costly.
“After a difficult season, to win at home in front of our fans is incredible,” said Gilbert. “This morning we felt some pressure because Bernardo was just five seconds behind, so we had to push harder. It was our first time in the car on asphalt, so to win in WRC 2 for the first time is fantastic.”
Third went to Sébastien Chardonnet in a Citroen DS3 R5. He was 2min 07.3sec behind, almost the time it took to stop and change a puncture on the first day.
Pontus Tidemand recovered from a first leg roll after hitting a bollard to finish fourth in a Fiesta R5, with Jaroslaw Koltun, Johan Heloise and Jourdan Serderidis completing the finishers. All four finished under Rally 2 rules after retiring earlier in the event.
None of the title contenders were present so the standings at the top of the championship remained unchanged with two rounds remaining.