A front-runner since he made his debut, Florian Bernardi has finally met the hopes put on him in taking his first title in a feeder series: the Clio R3T Trophy France!
Florian Bernardi began fighting against the clock just after getting his driving licence. He soon made quite an impression in finishing second in his category on the 2010 Rallye National de la Sainte-Baume.
His career accelerated with the affordability of the Renault Sport single-make cups. Florian Bernardi contested the Trophée Twingo R1, scored three podium results and finished fourth in 2011. With his first win on Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, he finished third in the general classification the following year. In 2013, the Trophy formed the framework of the French Junior Championship. A winner at Rouergue and again on Mont-Blanc, Florian Bernardi continued his rise with a runner-up finish in the standings.
Twice second in the Adam Cup, the Vaucluse native’s raced a lighter schedule in 2016 before reuniting with the Renault Sport Racing family via the Clio R3T Trophy France. Runner-up to veteran Cédric Robert, who he beat at Mont-Blanc, Florian Bernardi was the best among the Juniors.
The odds-on favourite in 2018, Florian Bernardi teamed up again with Victor Bellotto, who was already his co-driver in 2012. Their partnership stormed out of the gates with wins on the Touquet and Lyon-Charbonnières rounds. They then experienced their only ‘setback’ of the season, losing to Boris Carminati at Rouergue, but they did score big points before answering back on the Mont-Blanc. Florian Bernardi underscored his mastering of the rally, while his rival went off in the last special stage… Enough for Florian Bernardi to clinch the title with two rounds to spare.
“After several results in the leading positions, this title comes in my seventh season”, he said at the finish. “It is a mix of satisfaction and relief, but it really shows that the work put in by everyone around me has paid off. It is also a nice nod to Renault Sport, because I won my first rally in a promotion series with a Twingo… Which was on the Mont Blanc!”
Absent from the Cœur de France round, Florian Bernardi returned for the season-finale Rallye du Var where he celebrated his title with a three-minute margin of victory. After taking part in two rounds of the FIA ERC, Florian Bernardi is now exploring his options for 2019.
"Obviously, we are more than satisfied with our results this season” he added. “We won the Clio R3T Trophy, which was our only target. We also got to know an exceptional team with outstanding values! The work of Frédéric Anne Compétition was smooth all year long, as was the collaboration with Rtec Suspensions. I also would like to thank all my partners who have been with me for years. This title is a big satisfaction compared to the energy we’ve put in this project! As for the future… Even though I feel very much at home in the Clio R3T Trophy France, I would like to do something new next year to progress even more, either on gravel or on international rallies like I was able to do this year!”
One thing is sure: Florian Bernardi should quickly be at the sharp end of the order... As he has always been!