WRC 2 in France:
Kopecký eases ahead
Pre-event favourite Jan Kopecký led WRC 2 at the Corsica linea - Tour de Corse after Friday’s opening leg – but it was far from easy for the Czech star.
He held a 20.9sec advantage in his Skoda Fabia R5 over Yoann Bonato after four tough speed tests on twisty and narrow asphalt roads in mountains near Bastia.
He won two tests but was kept honest by Stéphane Lefebvre, who topped the times on the other two special stages in an impressive debut for Citroën’s new C3 R5 car.
Had brake problems not cost the Frenchman more than a minute in the opening stage, Kopecký’s job would have been far tougher.
He led by 2.2sec at the midpoint, but his second stage victory in the marathon 49.03km test from La Porta to Valle di Rostino stretched the gap over Bonato in another C3.
“It was tricky this morning but the conditions were better this afternoon,” said Kopecký, winner of the opening round in Monte-Carlo. “I tried to push a lot more in the afternoon and worked to try to find the best possible balance on the car.”
Ole Christian Veiby was third in a Fabia, 47.9sec behind Bonato. The young Norwegian spun twice and his advantage over a recovering Lefebvre was only 2.5sec with two more pursuers hot on his heels in a close battle for the final podium place.
Local hero Pierre Louis Loubet lost time with a spin but the Corsican was 6.9sec adrift of Lefebvre in a Hyundai i20, while Fabio Andolfi was 8.4sec further behind in another Fabia.
The opening stage ended the hopes of Sweden winner Takamoto Katsuta, who crashed his Ford Fiesta R5, and also brought a premature end to Nil Solans’ day.
Nicolas Ciamin dropped four minutes after crashing and damaging a wheel, while a sticking throttle later caused more heartache for the Frenchman. Also in trouble was Lukasz Pieniazek who lost seven minutes after hitting a wall.
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Dominant opening day display from WRC leader
SS2: Ogier leads, Loeb out
Frenchman leads as Loeb crashes out