The CitroŽn Racing Trophy takes centre stage in Europe
The CitroŽn Racing Trophy now has an important presence all over Europe, from Romania to Portugal to Poland. A total of nine countries play host to the C2-R2 MAXs, which fight out the hotly contested CitroŽn series in front of huge crowds. More than 100 cars now take part and the Group R victories are coming thick and fast, as seen recently on the European Championship thanks to Polish driver Michal Bebenek. In exactly the same way, Robert Barrable in the United Kingdom, Antonio Galli in Switzerland and Jan Cerny in the Czech Republic have taken advantage of the last few weeks to build up their respective advantages in the different Trophy series that they contest. On top of the brilliant performances from the C2-R2 MAXs all over Europe, the C2 Super 1600 has underlined its place at the forefront of the two-wheel drive hierarchy; whether itís thanks to Thierry Neuville Ė who has set fastest times on the Junior World Rally Championship Ė Marc Amourette and Dominique Rebout who have both impressed in France, or Robert Butor who has been unstoppable in Hungary.

Michal Bebenek, who won the Elmot Rally at the start of the season, showed off his talents once more on the Lotos Rally and Rally Poland recently. In doing so, he has strung together three consecutive victories: an astonishing achievement!

The Rally Poland counted towards the World Rally Championship last year, whereas this year it formed part of the European Championship. The 67th Rally Poland Ė one of the oldest events in motorsport history Ė was based as always in Mikolajki and took place over 250 kilometres of gravel stages. The route was extremely quick, with average speeds comfortably exceeding 100kph!

Michal Bebenek won for the third time in as many CitroŽn Racing Trophy Polska rounds, claiming the two-wheel drive honours as well by placing his CitroŽn C2-R2 MAX eighth overall. Jan Chmielewski and Szymon Kornicki joined him on the podium.

ďIt was a long and demanding rally, particularly throughout the opening day,Ē commented Bebenek at the finish. ďWe made the most of every kilometre on those really fast stages and it was a real pleasure to drive these roads with the C2-R2 MAX.Ē

Three weeks earlier, Michal Bebenek also won the class on the Lotos Rally, by finishing in the overall top 10. The runner-up, Jan Chmielewski, was only 5.3 seconds off the leader. Tomasz Porebski completed the podium.

More success for the C2 Super 1600 and C2-R2 MAX

Marc Amourette and Dominique Rebout staged a breathtaking duel in Dieppe, in front of the huge crowds that had gathered to watch the action. Amourette finished fifth overall, one place ahead of Rebout. Nicolas Gajek won the R2 class ahead of Raphael Sebrire and Eddy Barthelot.

Jean-Luc Vauclare, who has been driving well since the start of the season, placed his CitroŽn C2-R2 MAX on the overall podium of the Rallye du Gard, beating Pierre Loustalniau in the R2 class.

In Corsica, Sťbastien Chardonnet won the Group R category of the Rallye Pila Canale with his C2-R2 MAX ahead of local man Jean-Mathieu Leandri.

On the other side of the Mediterranean, at the Rallye Sainte-Baume, Stťphane Ciaramitaro finished sixth overall with his C2 Super 1600, while Laurent Bonnard was best placed of the C2-R2 MAX finishers.

CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 driver Marc Amourette added another class victory to his huge collection at the Rallye des Vins M‚con, finishing only around a second ahead of another S1600 car at the end of 12 stages.

Guillaume Sirot and Julian Carret sealed a C2-R2 MAX one-two in Group R.

The all-asphalt Salgo Gemer Rally Ė which counted for both the Hungarian and Slovenian Championships Ė allowed Robert Butor to claim another two-wheel drive victory aboard his CitroŽn C2 Super 1600.

Despite a puncture at the start of the rally, the Hungarian claimed his third consecutive victory. The Hungarian CitroŽn-Total Rallye Team is now preparing for the rest of the season, which takes place on gravel.

The CitroŽn Racing Trophy UK is living up to all expectations. Six crews started the third round of the season, the Jim Clark International Rally. Three of them took turns to lead the class. On stages close to the town of Duns, Mark Donnelly claimed the initial advantage before giving best to Richard Sykes. However, Robert Barrable once again proved he was the man to beat, having been on top form since the start of the season. The Irishman, who also won the Pirelli Rally, strung together a series of fastest times on the second day to claim another victory, ahead of Mark Donnelly.

Having claimed a narrow victory on the first round of the series, Antonio Galli largely dominated the second round of Switzerlandís CitroŽn Racing Trophy. After beating Hervť Tavernet by nearly three seconds, Galli was in the top five overall of the Chablais Rally. Sťbastien Berner completed the C2 podium.

Jan Cerny sustained the momentum he had built up since the start of the season and once more dominated the opposition, scoring 10 points for winning the A6/A7 category. The class podium was monopolised by C2-R2 MAXs, thanks to Miroslav Brezik and Antonin Matys.

After nearly 100 kilometres of stages, Alexandru Filip won the third round of the CitroŽn Racing Trophy in Romania. By winning the A6 class, he finished 22.9 seconds ahead of Vlad Cosma and nearly a minute in front of Danny Ungur: the winner of the seasonís first two rallies.

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