Mercedes F1 driver Bottas claims first rallying win at Paul Ricard

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas claimed his first win in rallying in the Paul Ricard-based Rallycircuit Cote d'Azur

Mercedes F1 driver Bottas claims first rallying win at Paul Ricard

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

Consani had held a narrow lead after the seven-kilometre opening stage, but Bottas took over out in front after the off-circuit second stage and methodically increased his lead from there.

He was virtually assured of the win on 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, originally completed the podium, ahead of GT racer Simon Gachet in a Citroen C3 R5.

However, Boccolacci later received a 20-second penalty that dropped him to fifth.

Former Citroen WRC driver Stephane Lefebvre claimed a pair of stage wins in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

He ultimately slipped behind Gachet into fourth place in the overall classification on the final stage.

Another circuit, Monza, also hosted its traditional Monza Rally Show this 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, 2019 event honours went to Italian rally driver Andrea Crugnola, who beat Sordo by 11s over eight stages.

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