Pierre Ragues has taken a sensational win in the RGT category of Rally di Roma Capitale today, successfully defending a lead that he earned on the third stage of the event on Saturday morning.
The popular Rome rally, part of the FIA R-GT Coupe du Monde and the European Rally Championship, got underway with the 2.72km Caracalla ACI Roma super special on Friday evening. Even on the short opening test, Pierre was second quickest of the RGT cars in his Alpine A110 Rally car, setting a standard which he would maintain throughout the rally.
Saturday’s itinerary began in similar style with Pierre claiming second quickest in Rocca di Cave (7.25km), and a close eye on the leading crew. However, on the subsequent test, the longer Rocca Santo Stefano, Pierre moved into the RGT lead with a stage win, the first of three he claimed during the event.
From there, Pierre’s strategy changed from being the chaser to being the chased. It set up an exciting battle, not only with his immediate challengers, but from erstwhile leader, the vastly experienced Manu Guigou, who was mounting his own comeback.
Pierre concluded Saturday with a string of second placed stage times to extend his lead to 36.4-seconds. The only frustration on an otherwise positive day was his choice of hard compound Michelin tyres, where the medium tyres would have been preferred.
Still, as overnight leaders in RGT Pierre and co-driver Julien Pesenti were the ones to beat. Sunday was set to be a thriller in RGT with a further seven stages to contest.
With his focus on a clever defensive strategy, avoiding unnecessary risks, Pierre – in just his fourth rally with the Alpine A110 – continued with more top-two stage times. His lead increased to over a minute but that gradually reduced as the experienced Guigou clawed back his time loss.
It was a battle that went down to the wire; Pierre held a 31.9-second advantage after SS10, the second of three runs through Fiuggi-Guarcino, but extended again to 56.4s with another RGT stage win in SS11 (Collepardo – Civita). Despite losing some time on the penultimate stage, Pierre completed the rally in style with his third stage win of the weekend, winning by 39.9-seconds and confirming his second win with Alpine in RGT.
Pierre said: “This has been a fantastic rally, with a victory in RGT that I am incredibly proud to have achieved, and which delivers important points for the Coupe de Monde campaign. We came into this event as only our fourth rally with the Alpine A110, so to come out on top in the category against such experienced competitors is an amazing feeling. From the moment we took the RGT lead on Saturday morning, we moved into a different strategy; it is always better to be chased than to be the chaser, but we had to be clever and intelligent, not risking anything. We knew Manu was going to be on a big fightback, so we had to manage ourselves and the car. Julien did a brilliant job once again in the co-driver seat, as did Racing Services. We were constantly in the top-two, even taking two stage wins during the weekend. The car has been phenomenal to drive, and the only thing that didn’t quite go our way was our Saturday tyre choice, when mediums would have been better than hards. We knew where the margin was and we kept things in control right to the end, even when it looked like our advantage would be reduced. I’m delighted with this result, and immensely grateful to share it with Racing Services, Michelin, YACCO, First, Alpine MSA Deauville and Sparco – my trusted partners.”
Rally di Roma Capitale – RGT Results
- Pierre Ragues / Julien Pesenti 2:00:33.8
- Manu Guigou / Alexandre Coria +39.9s
- Dariusz Polonski / Lukasz Sitek +3:40.1
General classification after two rounds
- Manu Guigou, 43 points
- Pierre Ragues, 37 points
- Philippe Baffoun, 22 points