Bottas wins Paul Ricard-based rally

Bottas, driving a Citroen DS3 WRC as one of five entrants in WRC-spec machinery, topped five of the nine stages to finish the event 50 seconds clear of his nearest rival, sometime European Rally Championship driver Robert Consani in a Skoda Fabia R5.

Consani had held a narrow lead after the 7km opener, but Bottas took over out front after the off-circuit second stage and methodically increased his lead from there.

He was virtually assured of the win in the penultimate stage, a 24km multi-lap run of one of Paul Ricard’s shorter configurations, in which he nearly doubled his lead over Consani.

Consani’s fellow Fabia R5 driver Dorian Boccolacci, an ex-Lotus F1 junior and Formula 2 regular, made up the event podium, ahead of GT racer Simon Gachet in a Citroen C3 R5.

Former Citroen WRC driver Stephane Lefebvre claimed a pair of stage wins in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. He ultimately slipped behind Gachet and into fifth place in the overall classification on the final stage.

Another circuit, Monza, hosted its traditional Monza Rally Show this same weekend, with WRC regulars Dani Sordo, Craig Breen and Andreas Mikkelsen on the entry list.

In the absence of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, who won the past four editions, honours in the 2019 event went to Italian rally driver Andrea Crugnola, who beat Sordo by 11 seconds over eight stages.