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France (Tour De Corse) - 5-8 Apr 18

Posted: April 7, 2018 3:49 PM - 2766 Hits

Round 4 - 2018 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Corsica 2018) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Tour de Corse (France)

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
Shakedown - Thu - 07:00
SS1 Fri - 08:50
SS5 Sat - 06:37
SS11 Sun - 08:23

Devine/Moriarty Aiming To Shine On The Rally Of 10,000 Corners

Posted: April 3, 2018 4:13 PM

Callum Devine will be aiming for a strong result this weekend as he embarks on the second round of his Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) campaign, on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. The current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year got his season off to an encouraging start in Sweden where the young Derry driver belied his lack of experience on snow and ice by taking 6th place in his Ford Fiesta R2T with his co-driver, Keith Moriarty.

Corsica however, is a much different proposition to snowy Sweden. Bumpy, narrow asphalt roads snake around the island making up the 333km competitive route and the events relentless nature has earned it the nickname of “the rally of 10,000 corners.” Despite its fearsome reputation however, Callum is looking forward to the challenge at hand and is hoping to put his previous sealed surface to good use over the weekend. Speaking ahead of the rally Callum said;
“This is the only tarmac round in the championship and as that is my preferred surface, I have to be aiming for a strong result here in Corsica. Even though it’s my favourite surface, it is going to be a very demanding rally because of the constant cornering. With very little distances between the bends, Keith and myself have worked hard on our pacenotes to make sure we can be committed and as smooth as possible because with 14 of us in identical cars, every little bit extra will count. We had a very successful test run on the recent West Cork Rally and while it was very different to Corsica, it was valuable seat time in the car. I’m seeded 6th behind 4 drivers who have previous experience of the event and the current French Junior Rally Champion so hopefully I can make an impression. I didn’t manage a fastest stage time in Sweden and would like to try and rectify that in Corsica, especially as there are only 12 stages in this event.”

Callum and Keith’s adventure will begin on Thursday morning with a short shakedown stage before the rally gets underway in earnest on Friday where the pair will tackle 2 stages which will be repeated once including a fearsome 49km stage before the crew return to Bastia to end leg 1. Leg 2 consists of a loop of 3 stages which will all be repeated once while the final leg of the rally on Sunday may provide the sting in the tail with the penultimate stage totalling just over 55km, the longest stage Callum will have ever done!

The 2018 JWRC is run in association with M-Sport and each competing crew uses identical Ford Fiesta R2T cars. Points are awarded for overall places as well as for each individual stage win. The remaining rounds on the series will see the JWRC circus descend on Portugal, Finland and Turkey, all gravel events, with Turkey being of particular interest as double points will be on offer. The prize at the end of the season will be an R5 Ford Fiesta along with support to tackle WRC2 rounds in 2019.

To keep up to date with Callum throughout 2018 and beyond be sure to check out www.callumdevine.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Callum’s season in the JWRC is supported by Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland, the Team Ireland Foundation, Fyth and Premier Car Parts.

FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR DE CORSE, PREVIEW

Posted: April 3, 2018 4:09 PM

The FIA Junior World Rally Championship crews will get their first taste of Tarmac next week, when Corsica Linea - Tour de Corse hosts the second round of the one-make series.

M-Sport Poland’s fleet of one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2s have been transformed into their asphalt specification and shod with Pirelli’s Pzero tyres – ready for the latest crop of youngsters to tackle one of rallying’s most challenging asphalt tests.

Known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners, the clue is in the name with corner after corner on a mix of smooth and abrasive asphalt.

The 333.48 competitive kilometres are split into just 12 speed tests, putting the emphasis on endurance and testing the crews on everything that goes into becoming a top-flight driver.

Pacenotes, focus, precision and speed – next week’s victor will have mastered them all on route to collecting the coveted trophy.

As the championship’s resident Frenchmen, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and Terry Folb will be hoping to emulate what Dennis Rådström and Emil Bergkvist did on home soil in Sweden two months ago.

During the opening round of the season, the two Swedes were locked in an intense battle for a home victory. Franceschi and Folb weren’t far behind – fighting for fourth and fifth places respectively – but this time they’ll be hoping that the battle of the Frenchmen is the battle for the win.

Julius Tannert could well challenge the prospect of a French winner on home soil. The German is well versed in the art of asphalt rallying, and will be keen for another strong result following his podium finish in Sweden.

Ireland’s Callum Devine is also considered an asphalt specialist. The youngsters kept his cool in Sweden, and could be one to watch when the championship turns to his preferred surface next week.

Emilio Fernández proved himself a fast learner in Sweden. The Chilean secured a stage win on his snow debut, and shouldn’t be discounted when it comes to delivering a similarly impressive performance on his asphalt debut next week.

Italy’s Luca Bottarelli will certainly be feeling more at home on asphalt and could well be a dark horse for a strong result.

David Holder is keen to show what he can do on his asphalt debut and will be determined for a strong showing – as is Tom Williams who travelled to Mexico to compete in the WRC 3 category with the Fiesta R2 earlier this month.

Estonia’s Ken Torn has already proven his speed – four fastest stage times seeing him challenge for the win in Sweden before a roll dropped him out of contention. With a new co-driver in the form of Ken Järveoja – cousin of WRC front-running co-driver Martin Järveoja – the pairing will be looking to combine their speed with consistency when they tackle their first Tarmac rally next week.

Enrico Oldrati also showed his potential during what was only the second ever rally of his career in Sweden. The Italian’s progress was cut short when he became a victim of the snowbanks on the opening day, but he’ll be keen to demonstrate his ability once more in Corsica.

Next week’s event also welcomes some new faces to the Junior WRC service area in the form of Bugra Banaz and Burak Erdener from Turkey, and Umberto Accornero and Barone Maurizio from Italy.

The two crews may have missed the opening round in Sweden, but that won’t stop them challenging for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport when the second round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship gets underway at the legendary Tour de Corse.

FIA Junior World Rally Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“We had such a fantastic opening round in Sweden, and now I can’t wait to see what the crews can do on asphalt. The competition was extremely close, and there were a few surprises along the way which could well be the case when we head to Corsica next week.

“The Tour de Corse is a legendary rally, and a win here carries a lot of weight. It’s truly unique and its character sets it apart from all of the other FIA World Rally Championship events. Here, the emphasis is on endurance, focus and precision – and our crews will have to manage every aspect of the event in search of a strong result.

“With the Ford Fiesta R2, and Pirelli’s Pzero tyres, they’ll have everything they need to succeed and I’m looking forward to seeing who gets it right next week.”

DRIVER QUOTES

Dennis Rådström said:
“The Tour de Corse is a fantastic event and Corsica is like a paradise. It has some proper Tarmac roads that twist through the island and we are very lucky to compete here. We are really looking forward to this challenge.

“Last week we had the opportunity to attend the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team test – watching the top drivers on roads like the ones we’ll encounter next week and I had a passenger ride with Elfyn Evans. We’ve also been doing some Tarmac testing in Denmark and are feeling well prepared.

“This rally is going to be a lot of fun and I’m aiming to push hard and enjoy every minute of it.”

Emil Bergkvist said:
“I’m really looking forward to being back on Tarmac, but we know that the competition will be tough and that there will be many drivers capable of challenging for the top results next week. I did this rally last year, so I know some areas where I can improve. I will try to be in the fight for the victory, and the aim is to collect as many championship points as we can.”

Julius Tannert said:
“I’m looking forward to the Tour de Corse and being back on Tarmac next week. It’s my favorite surface and I have some experience at this event. For sure, this rally is really special and the pacenotes are very important. I think it’s the most difficult rally of the year regarding the notes, and the timing for the co-drivers.

“As always, our goal is finish on the podium or to fight for the victory. I expect there will be a lot of drivers who are able to challenge for the win next week, and it will be a huge challenge. The long stages could be the deciders, and we need to ensure we score good points to keep ourselves in the fight for the championship.”

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi said:
“I’m very happy to be back on Tarmac, and almost at home on French soil. I love driving on this surface, and I’m feeling really good ahead of this beautiful event.

“I’ve been preparing my physical fitness thoroughly for the long stages, and I will do a Tarmac event this weekend in the South of France to get back into the rhythm of driving on roads similar to those we’ll see in Corsica.

“I really hope to be in the fight for the victory next week, and that everything comes together for a fantastic event. I want to achieve something beautiful on this beautiful French event.”

Terry Folb said:
“This is the rally that we are waiting for every year. I adore this event, and will contest it for the fourth time this year. It is the only pure asphalt event that we have in the championship this year, and we want to show the best of ourselves next week.

“Since Rally Sweden, I have contested a rally in France to regain the sensation of driving on asphalt. We completed about 200 kilometres – using the Pirelli tyres for the first time – which was really good preparation.

“We did not begin the season with the best result, so our objective in Corsica is to fight for the victory and get ourselves back in the championship fight.”

Callum Devine said:
“I’m really looking forward to this event. I’ve done far more rallies on Tarmac than I have on gravel, and this is my strongest surface.

“Since Rally Sweden, I have tried to further develop my pacenote system and also competed in the West Cork Rally back home in Ireland. We competed with the Fiesta R2 and it was good to get some more seat time ready for this Tarmac challenge.

“Next week, my hope is to be challenging at the front end of the field. We want to get the miles under our belts, but we also want to secure some good points for the championship.”

Emilio Fernández said:
“It was my first time on snow in Sweden, and it will be my first time on asphalt in Corsica. Of course we’re a little nervous to learn how everything works on this surface, but we are also well prepared and I have been watching many videos from the Tour de Corse to get a feeling for the event. I want to finish in the best way possible, and hopefully we can surpass our result last time out in Sweden.”

Luca Bottarelli said:
“We feel ready for this asphalt race, and I have completed a pre-event test in preparation. As this is my first season in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, the main objective is to get the experience, but I also hope to be closer to the leaders next week.”

David Holder said:
“We are expecting a tough event next week. It's our first ever Tarmac rally, so naturally there will be plenty to learn. There are some very fast and experienced asphalt specialists amongst the Junior World Rally Championship crews so we just need to focus on our own performance and improvement.

“I've been fortunate to get some limited experience on local racetracks here in New Zealand over the past few weeks. It's obviously very different to Corsica, but it was the closest we could get to replicate the challenges ahead.

“For us, a consistent and clean rally will be a good result. We know what we are capable of, and need to keep banking the experience on these unfamiliar surfaces.”

Ken Torn said:
“I’ve never competed on Tarmac, but I have done some recces on this surface and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do. Since this is our first Tarmac event, our main goal is to learn something new and get the experience for future rallies.”

Tom Williams said:
“I’m really looking forward to the first asphalt event of the season as I’m a lot more familiar with this surface. In Corsica, the stages are very long and twisty, so I think that Pacenotes will be key.

“I feel a lot more confident after contesting Rally Mexico earlier this month. It was a good opportunity to get more seat time and everything worked really well in the car, so I hope to bring that to Corsica.

“We have put a lot of work into our Pacenotes and I’ve also done a lot of training to ensure my physical fitness is where it needs to be to tackle these long and technical stages.

“My main goal is to finish the event and gain more seat time on Tarmac, but I would also like to bring down the seconds per kilometre when compared to the more experienced competitors.”

Enrico Oldrati said:
“The Tour de Corse will be a very tough event, and perhaps even more difficult than Sweden as there are so many things to consider. You need to take care of the brakes, the tyres and keep your focus for so many kilometres. All of these factors increase the level of difficulty. I hope to do better than I did at Rally Sweden, and it’s important not to repeat the same mistakes.”

Bugra Banaz said:
"The Tour de Corse is a very important and historic rally on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, and one that I’m very excited about. After an efficient season in the ERC Junior series last year, this will be my first event of 2018 and I am ready for the fight. The length of the stages will be very tough, and I think good pacenotes will be the key to success. My main goal is to finish the rally and gain as much experience as possible.”

Umberto Accornero said:
"The Tour de Corse has a lot of heritage and I am very happy to start my season here. The stages are very long with plenty of tricky sections and an endless number of corners – making this one of the most demanding rallies on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.

“I am willing to learn and will take as much experience as I can this year. I will do my best to keep a good pace and I hope that consistency and regularity will pay off at the end of this long and difficult rally. Concentration will surely be the key to success, especially during the two longest stages."

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Tour de Corse

Posted: April 3, 2018 4:07 PM

Hyundai Motorsport revisits the scene of one of its most confident victories next week as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves to Corsica for the fourth round of the 2018 season.

Tour de Corse offers teams and crews the first proper tarmac challenge of the year after the wintry conditions faced in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, and the hot gravel stages of Rally Mexico.

The affectionately titled ‘Rally of 10,000 corners’ presents entirely different technical demands with tight, twisty turns putting an emphasis on precision, concentration and reliability.

Familiar territory

Twelve months ago, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul took Hyundai Motorsport’s first victory of the season in Corsica, winning by a margin of 55 seconds. Dani Sordo was also on the podium in third place. The team will be hoping to defend its honours in this year’s event, as it aims to consolidate its lead in the manufacturers’ championship.

Hyundai Motorsport will field the same three-crew line-up for Tour de Corse as competed in Mexico earlier this month. Andreas Mikkelsen will drive the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC alongside compatriot co-driver Anders Jæger. Neuville and Gilsoul will aim for their second win of the season while Sordo and Carlos del Barrio will look to build on their Mexican podium.

All crews have prepared for Corsica during a three-day test on the island this week, establishing baseline settings for the cars ahead of the 12-stage rally, which gets underway with shakedown on Thursday. The test was interrupted shortly before its scheduled completion on Wednesday afternoon when Neuville and Gilsoul went off, the crew unharmed.

As it currently stands, Hyundai Motorsport holds a 12-point advantage in the overall classification but with just 17 points separating all four manufacturers, the battle for the top positions could not be closer.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:
“We have only a 12-point advantage in the manufacturers’ championship and we are under no illusions: Tour de Corse will be another tough and close battle. The fight for the Championship is tighter than ever this year and we’ve seen how quickly things can turn around. We have good memories of Corsica from our win and double podium last year, so that’s the sort of result we’d like to repeat. Our ultimate goal is to consolidate our lead in the championship, but we know the opposition will have other ideas.”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Norwegian crew seeking second podium of season
Mikkelsen holds third in closely-fought drivers’ championship

Mikkelsen said: “Corsica is a very special event, and our first true tarmac rally of the season. As a crew, you never really get any break during the stages; it’s a continuous corner-to-corner challenge that requires utmost concentration. It’s equally tough on the car as it is for the driver and co-driver. It is easy for the brakes to get warm so we have to adapt our driving style to save them for the really long stages. Tour de Corse is a beautiful rally and one I really enjoy.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Rally Sweden winners aiming to bounce back from difficult Mexico
Neuville holds four-point deficit to Sébastien Ogier in the drivers’ championship

Neuville said: “Tour de Corse is one of my personal highlights of the season. We have some good memories from this rally across the years; we have won twice, including last year’s WRC victory so I am hoping for another competitive weekend. We had an accident towards the end of the pre-event test but that won’t change our approach to this rally. We know it will be a close contest again, as there are many quick drivers. The long stages that are a particular characteristic of Corsica mean we have to keep focused at all times. It is a really demanding event for crews and teams but we’re determined to strengthen our position in both championships.”

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Spaniards aim for another podium after second place in Mexico
Sordo finished third in Corsica twelve months ago


Sordo said: “I was pleased with our result in Mexico and I hope we can continue with this level of performance as we move onto the tarmac challenge of Tour de Corse. It is a rally I always enjoy, and which requires a very specific approach. With long stages held in the mountains, Corsica really is a classic tarmac event. It’s corner after corner, so we are always turning the steering wheel during the stages, which makes it a very physical event. Precise pace notes are crucial for a good performance. I can’t wait to get started!”

Bite-size Corsica

Tour de Corse covers 12 stages over a competitive distance of 333.48km. Route has been significantly changed from 2017 although retaining some familiar sections. Itinerary includes a ‘monster’ stage on each day with the 49.03km La Porta – Valle di Rostino test on Friday, the 35.61km Cagnano – Pino – Canari stage on Saturday and the longest stage of the weekend, the 55.17km Vero – Sarrola – Carcopino, held on Sunday morning. It is the longest stage to be held at Tour de Corse since 1986.

Service Park is based in the north-east of the island, Bastia, where the majority of stages are held, although Sunday moves towards Ajaccio in the west Tight, twisty mountain stages punish tyres and brakes and require pinpoint precision from crews as the smallest error can be rally-ending.

THE C3 R5 ENTERS THE FRAY!

Posted: April 3, 2018 4:05 PM

Citroën Racing has chosen the French round of the World Rally Championship for the maiden outing of the C3 R5, its new customer racing product. The car will be driven by works crew Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau at the first of a seven-round WRC2 programme, as well as by Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud in a customer version, incorporated into the works team for this round.

The moment of truth is nigh for the Citroën C3 R5. After months of behind-the-scenes development work, having covered some six thousand kilometres of testing since September 2017 – when its first road tests were held – Citroën's new flagship model is at long last set to make its competitive debut next weekend at the Tour de Corse. The car will be looking to confirm its hopes of becoming the new benchmark in the category. Stéphane Lefebvre, works driver for the brand and one of those most involved in the car's development, has been tasked with showcasing the qualities of the C3 R5 on the World Championship stages and will begin his challenge for the WRC2 title. He will also be contesting rallies in Portugal and Sardinia. With three seasons in the WRC behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive car under his belt, the talented young Frenchman has the experience, maturity and speed necessary to make a strong challenge. The same goes for 2017 French Rally Champion Yoann Bonato, whose privately-run C3 R5 will be incorporated into the works team in Corsica in an attempt to pool assets and improve the car's chances of securing a good result. Equally very involved in development, the Isère driver boasts experience from competing at the last two Tour de Corse. Although more than sixty percent of the stages are new this year, the iconic island rally – with its demanding, twisty and occasionally quick roads, and some speed tests as long as fifty-five kilometres – is the perfect event to show off the versatility, reliability and competitiveness of the C3 R5. Finally, it is worth noting that a third C3 R5 will be running as one of the zero cars, driven by in-house test driver Alex Bengué.

WHAT THEY SAID

François Wales, Development Director, Customer Racing Vehicles
"Corsica is a proper rallying venue, with some of the most demanding roads in the world. We used them right at the start of the year, then again in March for two successive test sessions and our C3 R5 was in very good form there. So I have high hopes that it will show its potential on its international competitive debut. In any case, I'd like to acknowledge the performance of all our teams, who have worked incredibly hard to give us the best chance of making a success of this maiden outing."

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"As the standard in the WRC2 championship is extremely high, we'll need to be on the pace straight away. But having racked up many kilometres in development testing with the C3 R5 during the off season, Stéphane and Gabin come into the rally in particularly good shape. I therefore have great faith in their ability to do the job they have been given, i.e. showcase our new flagship product, even if the Tour de Corse remains an iconic event that must be treated with respect, especially due to its very long stages."

Stéphane Lefebvre
"After a long winter break, and a one-off appearance in France, I'm really looking forward to getting back on the WRC stages. It’s always exciting to compete for the first time in a new car where you have worked on a large part of the development! The C3 R5 is definitely well designed. I feel confident behind the wheel and I can't wait to get the opportunity to show it. I'm expecting it to be an almighty scrap at the front, but having done several days' testing in Corsica, we are certainly well prepared. I have another day of testing scheduled before the start, plus the shakedown, in which to fine-tune the final details."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 11th (2015)

Island asphalt challenge awaits TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

Posted: April 3, 2018 4:01 PM

The twisting asphalt roads of Corsica lie ahead of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team on round four of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season. The classic Tour de Corse is the first pure asphalt event of the year, but drivers Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi will take confidence from the performance of the Toyota Yaris WRC on the partly ice-covered roads of Rallye Monte-Carlo, where the team celebrated a double podium finish.

Serving as France’s round of the WRC, the Tour de Corse is famed for its narrow and winding mountainous stages, which are often lined by rock faces on one side and steep drops on the other. Abrasive asphalt and long stages also mean that tyre wear is a factor.

The rally is based at Bastia Airport on the eastern side of the island, where the action begins on Friday with two loops of two stages – one of which, La Porta-Valle di Rostino is 49.03 kilometres long. Saturday consists of two loops of three stages, focused on the northern coast and totalling 136.9 kilometres. On the final day, the action moves to the island’s capital Ajaccio on the western side of the island: The mammoth 55.17-kilometre Vero-Sarrola-Carcopino test – the longest on the rally since 1986 – is followed by 16.25-kilometre Pénitencier de Coti-Chiavari Power Stage.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I think that Corsica should be a good rally for us. Our car has been working quite well on asphalt and we have had some really good pre-event testing. Our test driver Juho Hänninen was working on the suspension, and he did a very good job to improve the car, and I think that Jari-Matti, Ott and Esapekka are all happy with the feeling. Everybody in the team seems to be well prepared, so I feel pretty confident that everything will go well.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I have some good memories of Corsica from my win there in 2015. It is certainly an asphalt rally that I like. There’s a reason they call it the Rally of 10,000 Corners: if you find any straight that is longer than 100 metres, you know you are on the wrong island! You cannot really cut the corners so much and there is not so much gravel on the road, which makes it really enjoyable as you can just focus on the corners and the lines. We had a very, very positive pre-event test. The feeling was extremely good and I am very confident with the car. All of the teams should be quick in Corsica, but I really hope we are up there fighting for the podium places.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“We have been competitive on every surface so far this season. The team is working really hard to make sure that we can be reliable too. Now we just need to start taking some points back from our rivals. Last year my feeling in Corsica was quite good, so I want to have a strong result this time. The conditions on Rallye Monte-Carlo were very specific so it was difficult to take a lot, but we still went into our pre-Corsica test with some kind of idea which way we want to go. We had a proper two-day test and I think we went in the right direction: It feels like the car is performing well.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I have done Corsica a couple of times in the past in other categories, and I would say that it is completely different to any other rally. It is just corner after corner, without many straights to give us a rest. The schedule is also unique as we don’t have as many stages, but they are quite long. This will be my first time in Corsica in a World Rally Car, but I take confidence from the speed we showed in Monte Carlo. In fact, I am actually more confident this time because we managed to find a better set-up in the pre-event test. We tested in both damp and fully dry conditions so we should be ready whatever the weather.”

THE CITROËN C3 WRC HEADS FOR THE HILLS!

Posted: April 3, 2018 3:58 PM

After two winter rallies and one on gravel, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT is back on tarmac for its home round of the World Rally Championship. Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Sébastien Loeb – Daniel Elena, the latter crew making the second of their three scheduled appearances in the WRC this year, are determined to be among the frontrunners at one of the most iconic events on the calendar.

A TRIED AND TESTED DUO

The first full tarmac rally of the season, the Tour de Corse has often been dominated by specialists of the surface. Its technically-demanding stages call for finesse, precision and even a little virtuosity behind the wheel in order to get the absolute maximum from the tyres, without ruining them in the process. With Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle, who led for long periods in last year's rally, and Sébastien Loeb – Daniel Elena, who have claimed four (2005 to 2008) of the brand's six wins at the event during its inclusion in the WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT is particularly well equipped to challenge at this, the 61st edition of the classic island race. The team has genuine hopes of winning in Corsica.

Until he retired last year, Kris Meeke had won three out of the five stages contested up to that point. Since then, he has also claimed a magnificent win at the 2017 Rally de Catalunya, which suggests that his C3 WRC is very fast on tarmac and that he is at one with the car on this surface. However, Sébastien Loeb will not be expecting to be left out. After his spectacular comeback last month at Rally Mexico, the nine-time World Rally Champion – whose last outing on full tarmac in the WRC goes back to the Rallye de France-Alsace 2013 – returns to Corsica and a surface that he loves driving on, and on which he has often enjoyed success in the past. He certainly didn't need any time to get used to the surface again during the test session held in Corsica last week. The test also enabled the team to assess its range of set-up options for the various types of surface encountered on the island's atypical roads.

NEW STAGES

Having not competed in Corsica since 2008, Sébastien's main problem, however, will be refamiliarising himself with all the stages. In contrast, Kris Meeke and the other championship regulars are already familiar with around thirty-six percent of the itinerary, namely the opening stage, La Porta – Valle di Rostino (49.03km), Novella (17.39km) and around seven kilometres on Vero – Sarrola – Carcopino (55.17km), Sunday's heavyweight challenge. One of the special features of this year's Tour de Corse is the fact that some sixty-three percent of the stages has been changed, with the introduction of brand new speed tests in Cap Corse and Désert des Agriates, located to the north and west of Bastia respectively. And with the rally held in early April on the hilly Mediterranean island, the weather may also have a role to play…

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Following two consecutive podium finishes in Sweden and in Mexico, we are going to pull out all the stops in Corsica to secure our first win of the year. In any case, we have given ourselves every chance with a four-day test session in Corsica, which proved to be very positive. Having said all that, it's still a race – and one of the toughest on the WRC calendar at that – with many variables and uncertainties, especially as regards the weather at this time of year. But Kris and Paul proved last year that they have the ability to win here, and after their masterful display in Mexico, I don't see how Sébastien and Daniel won't be in the mix, especially at an event where they have been always been impressive in the past."

Kris Meeke
"The Tour de Corse is one hell of a challenge, with many difficulties, but I've always enjoyed racing here. We were very competitive here last year, although we have seen since the start of the season that everyone has made progress, but I hope we can still get among the frontrunners. Our pre-event tests, held on a wide variety of roads, were very productive. I get the feeling that we have progressed further on the dirty and bumpy sections. In any case, I came away from my test sessions pleased with the work done and I can't wait now to get started!"

Number of appearances at the event: 6
Best result: 4th (2015)

Sébastien Loeb
"Having recently driven the C3 WRC on gravel, I got my bearings very quickly during our tests in Corsica, even though the road surface was different. I started with Kris' basic set-up and settled upon something very close to his settings pretty quickly, but which suited me. The feeling was pretty good at the end of my testing days. We'll have to wait and see where we stand in relation to everyone else. After our performance in Mexico, I hope we will be on the pace again, especially as I've always been comfortable on tarmac, not least in Corsica. In any case, it's a place and an event that I have always enjoyed, even if it's certainly not the easiest rally. The roads are apparently faster than when I last competed here, although there are still plenty of narrow, technical and bumpy stages, but they are all going to be new for me so it won't be easy to make pace notes for the entire route."

Number of appearances at the event: 9
Best result: 1st (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

KEY FIGURES

12 timed stages covering a total of 333.48 km
55.17 km for Vero – Sarrola – Carcopino, the longest stage of the rally
6 overall wins secured by Citroën at the Tour de Corse in the WRC: Philippe Bugalski in 1999 (Xsara Kit-Car), Jesus Puras in 2001 (Xsara WRC), Sébastien Loeb in 2005 and 2006 (Xsara WRC), 2007 and 2008 (C4 WRC)
63.75 % of the competitive distance is new compared with 2017

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

Long stages

At an event known as "The Rally of 10,000 Corners" due to the island's narrow, twisty roads, having two stages forty-nine and fifty-five kilometres in length represents a serious challenge. It is mainly during recce that the task will be most difficult for the crews. They will need to take pace notes for a seemingly endless series of more than six hundred corners, keeping the same level of concentration whilst driving at moderate speed for more than an hour at a time. In the race, the challenge will be to find the right pace immediately, and then maintain it until the end of the rally. To manage this, you need to adopt a driving style – and a set-up – that looks after the front tyres, or risk seeing the seconds inexorably slip away…

CITROËN SECRETS

Coco Chiaroni, the team's recce and weather coordinator, recalls…
"For almost six years, every time the Tour de Corse comes round, I can't help but think about the late Philippe Bugalski. Since I retired from competitive action, I've had many great experiences at "my" event, especially in 2005 when Seb and Danos won all the stages on their way to their maiden win in Corsica, but it nothing comes close to what I felt when we won here for the first time with 'Bug' in 1999 in the Xsara Kit-Car. Surprisingly, at the time, it was the earlier win in Spain that I thought was more special in my opinion, because it was Citroën's first ever victory in the WRC, and our first ever World Championship win too, added to which it was secured outside of France. But looking back, our win in Corsica was particularly special for me. That year, we had been leading going into the final stage on Saturday, held next to Corte, where it had started to rain. Jesus Puras, our team-mate, had closed to within 6.3s. On Sunday morning, there were two stages left to run until the regroup in Propriano, and I said to 'Bug', "if we manage to match his pace until then, we'll have the race sewn up". That's exactly what happened. At the regroup, Guy Fréquelin got us together and gave out team orders. A potential one-two finish was too important for the brand to risk losing. The result also went a long way towards persuading Citroën to commit to competing in the WRC full-time!"

M-SPORT FORD CHASE SUCCESS IN CORSICA / Phil Mills to co-drive for Elfyn Evans

Posted: April 3, 2018 3:54 PM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team have enjoyed a strong start to this year’s FIA World Rally Championship. After three events, the team have secured two victories and will be chasing a third when the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs don their asphalt guise for next week’s Corsica Linea – Tour de Corse.

Making the most of the increased technical support from Ford Performance, the Rally Mexico winning Fiesta made its way to Indianapolis in America earlier this month for some aerodynamic research and development at the Blue Oval’s state-of-the-art wind tunnel.

With attention on the first pure asphalt event of the year, the team also spent last week conducting a comprehensive test in Corsica – targeting specific set-ups to ensure that Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and returnee Bryan Bouffier are best prepared for the challenges ahead.

But the wintry weather struck once again – the test team stranded in Heathrow overnight which meant the five-day test was reduced to just four. Despite the delay, the Cumbrian squad remain well prepared and the crews determined to make their mark on the Rally of 10,000 Corners.

TOUR DE CORSE 10,000 CORNERS

It’s not hard to see why the Tour de Corse is known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners. Narrow roads wind through the island’s mountain ranges – turn after turn creating some of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most iconic stages.

If you think of corners when you think of the Tour de Corse, you also think of endurance. This year’s itinerary has been significantly updated but the route retains its traditional challenge with 333.48 competitive kilometres split into just 12 speed tests.

Almost two-thirds of the stage distance differs from last year’s encounter, but the narrow roads, abrasive asphalt and breath-taking scenery all remain.

The event gets underway on Friday with two loops of three stages south-west of the host town of Bastia. The following day’s action is the longest – covering 136.90 kilometres that extends to the northernmost Cap Corse before turning west to L’Île Rousse.

The event comes to a close with a mammoth 55.17 kilometre test on Sunday morning and the coastal town of Ajaccio hosts the ceremonial finish at Place du Diamant.

At the Tour de Corse, focus is key. The tight and twisty roads demand respect and the abrasive asphalt often brings tyre management to the fore. The smallest of mistakes can be heavily punished and pacenotes must be delivered with the upmost precision.

The island weather can also prove difficult to predict, and driver, co-driver, team and car must work in complete synchronicity as they hunt the top results.

MALCOLM WILSON TEAM PRINCIPAL

With Sébastien Ogier leading the drivers’ standings, Julien Ingrassia leading the co-drivers’ standings and the team just 12 points shy of the lead in the manufacturers’ standings, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are keen to deliver another strong result next week.

The competition will be tough, but Team Principal Malcolm Wilson knows that his team has the potential to deliver another strong performance.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“With two wins from the first three events, we’ve got our season off to another fantastic start and hope to see that continue at next week’s Tour de Corse.

“Sébastien, Elfyn and Bryan all really enjoy this event and all have some impressive results to their names in Corsica. We’ll be hoping that plays to our advantage, and I’m looking forward to seeing what each of them can deliver.

“Leading the championship, Sébastien is exactly where he needs to be and well-placed to challenge for a top result. Elfyn and Bryan’s road position could put them at something of a disadvantage, but I know that they are both hungry for a strong result.

“The competition will be fierce, but we’ve made a lot of progress and have the potential to deliver another strong performance next week. We all know how challenging this event can be, but we’re well prepared and determined to deliver once more.”

OGIER AND INGRASSIA THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are well-placed to challenge for their third victory of the year at next week’s Tour de Corse – leading the FIA World Rally Championship for both Drivers and Co-drivers and thus having the cleanest road through the opening day of competition.

The pairing may have made their world-stage debut in 2008, but they got their first taste of international competition when piloting the Course Car at the 2007 edition of the Tour de Corse.

Having contested the event on four previous occasions, the pairing secured victory in 2016 and will be chasing another taste of champagne next week.

Previous starts: 4
Best result: 1st (2016)


Sébastien Ogier said:
“We’ve had a really positive start to the season – three events and two victories already under our belts. It’s great to see the progress we’ve made, and we’re keen to see that continue with the return to asphalt next week.

“With a lot of mixed conditions in Monte-Carlo, the Tour de Corse is the first proper Tarmac event of the year, and it’s nice to be back. We all know that the competition will be strong, but we completed a good test last week – finding a good feeling and discovering the optimum set-ups to deliver a strong performance

“As a Frenchman, there is always added motivation to do well at the Tour de Corse. Known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners, the name alone says it all and many sections of this island are made for rallying. A lot of the route is new this year, but the stages remain very technical with corner after corner demanding total focus and precision.

“It’s a beautiful island that I always look forward to visiting, and it would be fantastic to secure another strong result on French soil.”

EVANS AND MILLS KEEN FOR A COMEBACK
With co-driver Daniel Barritt needing more time to recover from the sixth-gear roll the pairing suffered at the previous round in Mexico, Elfyn Evans will be joined by the 2003 FIA World Rally Champion Co-driver, Phil Mills, at next week’s Tour de Corse.

To ensure Barritt makes a full recovery Mills has stepped in and, having formed a part of Evans’ gravel crew for the past five years, knows his fellow Welshman’s pacenotes inside out. With 13 rally wins to his name, Mills certainly has the experience and the paring are keen hit the ground running next week.

The Welshmen will have their work cut out – perfecting a new partnership on one of the most challenging events of the year whilst also overcoming the disadvantage of a later road position – but that won’t stop them giving their all in search of a strong result.

Having secured second place at the Tour de Corse in 2015, Evans also won the WRC 2 category in 2016 and is focused on bringing more silverware back home to Wales.

Previous starts: 3
Best result: 2nd (2015)

Elfyn Evans said:
“This is an event that I really enjoy, and we’ll be looking to maximise that next week. The speed is there, but I’ve not had the best start to the year and that’s something I’m determined to put right in Corsica.

“It won’t be easy without Dan, but his fitness comes first and it’s important that he has the time to make a full recovery for the rest of the season. Phil has stepped in, and I hope that we can push for a good result.

“Phil certainly knows his stuff. Other than Dan, he knows my pacenotes better than anyone and he’s certainly no stranger when it comes to winning rallies.

“This year’s route has a lot of new sections, but it’s still a technical challenge which is one of the things I really enjoy here. There’s quite a lot of variation amongst the stages – some are surprisingly smooth, but then there are those which are typically Corsican with abrasive Tarmac that twists through the mountains.

“It’s all about adapting to the conditions, and that will be the case even more so for us next week. We’ll have a fairly late running order which won’t be ideal, and we’ll need some time to get used to one another in the car as well.

“We’ll just have to see how it goes and do the best we can. I’ve had some good results here in the past, and I’m keen to see what we can do this year.”

BOUFFIER AND PANSERI MAKING A WELCOME RETURN

Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri will be making a welcome return to the team next week. Having made their debut with the Ford Fiesta WRC at Rallye Monte-Carlo earlier this year, the pairing will be looking to translate all they learnt into a positive result at the Tour de Corse.

Having contested this rally on seven previous occasions in various championships, the pairing have good knowledge of the event and secured victory as part of the FIA European Rally Championship in 2013.

Previous starts: 7
Previous WRC starts: 3
Best result: 1st (2013)
Best WRC result: 8th (2015)

Bryan Bouffier said:
“The Tour de Corse has long been one of my favourite events. The roads are amazing, but so is the island and so are the people who live there. It’s a fantastic rally and one that I look forward to every year.

“We had a good test last week where I found a good feeling with the balance of the car. Working together with the team, we were able to find some good solutions with the set-up, and I hope that hard work will show on the stages next week.

“Every time I return the FIA World Rally Championship the level is extremely high, but this year the competition is stronger than ever and there are so many drivers able to push for the top results.

“The specific challenge in Corsica is to be consistent through the long stages and to avoid mistakes. That is our goal and we hope to deliver some strong times so that I have the chance to do even more kilometres in this amazing car!”

REMEMBERING HENRY HOPE-FROST
In memory of the late Henry Hope-Frost, the two leading Ford Fiesta WRCs will carry the hashtag ‘Fever’ at next week’s Tour de Corse, as well as the names of his three young sons.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We were all truly shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing. His knowledge was unrivalled, and his passion for motorsport had the ability to capture the imagination of all who met him. More than that, he was a true gentleman whose character, professionalism and enthusiasm will never be forgotten. Our thoughts remain with his family and friends, as well as all those he inspired along the way.”

Senior Manager at Ford Performance, Gerard Quinn, said:

“All at Ford who have worked with Henry Hope-Frost over many years were saddened to hear of his tragic accident. His love and knowledge of all things Ford endeared him to so many of us. A charismatic charming and witty individual, Henry has left an indelible mark on motorsport.

“He was an amazing character that enriched the lives of so many that he came into contact with through the sport that he was truly passionate about. He will forever remain in our memories; events such as Goodwood and Autosport International Show will be emptier places following his passing. We wish our sincerest sympathies to his family and many friends around the globe.”

Entry List

Posted: March 15, 2018 3:56 PM

Rally Guide / Event Wesbite

Posted: December 31, 2017 8:53 PM

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