Juniors get set for round two
The 2018 Junior WRC field will get its first taste of asphalt competition this weekend as the championship heads to the Corsica linea – Tour de Corse (5-8 April) for round two.
Championship leader Dennis Rådström has been preparing for the only all-asphalt rally on the Junior calendar by joining the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team as it tested in Corsica last month. The Swede was given tips on how to drive the twisty Corsican roads when he jumped into the co-driver’s seat for a ride with Elfyn Evans.
Rådström has an 11-point lead over countryman Emil Bergkvist after winning February’s Rally Sweden by just 7.3 seconds.
Bergkvist is hoping his past experience of Corsica will help him as he looks to overhaul his compatriot but with only two of the 12 stages being carried over from 2017, he’ll have his work cut out.
With Swedish drivers dominating their home event, attention turns to French challengers Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and Terry Folb to see if either of them can claim glory at their home rally.
Franceschi said: “I’ve been preparing physically for the long stages, and I did an asphalt event last weekend in the South of France to get back into the rhythm of driving on roads similar to those we’ll see in Corsica.”
Folb has also been testing as he gets set to start his fourth Tour de Corse and recover from a slow start in Sweden.
However, the French pair could have their work cut out as Julius Tannert will be looking to carry over the experience he gained in his native Germany and build on his season-opening podium on what is his ‘favourite’ surface.
Ireland’s Callum Devine is regarded as an asphalt specialist and had a good event in Sweden, while Emilio Fernández – just behind Devine in the standings – was a stage winner on his snow debut and is a quick learner.
Luca Bottarelli could also do well and the Italian did a pre-event test as he looks set to make his asphalt debut in the JWRC.
Fourteen Ford Fiesta R2 crews are entered as Turkey’s Bugra Banaz and Italy’s Umberto Accornero join after missing Rally Sweden.
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