Corsica Countdown: 2017 rewind

With the first long-haul rally of the season in Mexico ticked off, the WRC returns to Europe next week as crews heads to Corsica linea – Tour de Corse (5-8 April) – the only all-asphalt rally of the season.

Here’s a look back at what happened on the event last year:

Friday 7 April: Meeke dominates opening stages

Kris Meeke continued his blistering form from Rally Guanajuato Mexico as he took his Citroën C3 WRC to three stage wins on a sunny opening day as the field tackled four tests across the French island.

M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier did his best to limit the Briton’s domination by taking a win on SS3 but still ended the day 10.3sec behind Meeke as he struggled to perfect the set-up on his Ford Fiesta.

Ending the day in third-place was Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who finished third on every stage. He completed the day 25sec off the lead. The Belgian was confused with his lack of speed despite his happiness with the i20’s set-up.

Craig Breen pipped Dani Sordo to fourth place by 1.4sec, while Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest of the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT drivers in sixth.

Kris Meeke's rally came to an end due to engine troubles on the second day

Saturday 8 April: Mechanical issues allow Neuville to claim the lead

Neuville’s persistence paid off on Saturday as he finished the day with a near-40sec lead after mechanical issues hampered Meeke and Ogier in the Corsican mountains.

Meeke’s rally came to a sudden end on stage six as the engine in his Citroën started smoking on his way to the finish line and he had to coast his way through. With the issue proving terminal, he was forced to retire from the lead.

Combined with Ogier having handling problems during the morning loop, Neuville went into the afternoon with an 8.2sec lead. The Hyundai driver extended that to 40sec in the afternoon as hydraulic issues left Ogier’s Fiesta with only rear-wheel-drive.

Sordo inherited third after Meeke’s retirement and Latvala struggling with his transmission in the morning. The Finn fixed the issue for the afternoon but couldn’t overhaul him.

Breen finished the second day down a position in fifth having been forced to drive one stage without pace notes after an intercom failure.

Sunday 9 April: Neuville cruises to victory

Neuville overcame the ‘curse’ that caused him to crash out of the lead of Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden earlier in the year to take his first win of the season in Corsica.

The Belgian was left without competition on the final day as Ogier was focussed on reclaiming second place after an electrical issue briefly allowed Sordo to get past. 

Ogier eventually re-took Sordo to claim second by a slim 1.3sec margin. Latvala finished just 13sec off the podium in fourth but was lucky not to get pipped by Breen as the Citroën driver had a great Sunday to finish 0.1sec behind.

Hayden Paddon completed the final set of stages more than a minute behind the Irishman in sixth with Andreas Mikkelsen claiming WRC 2 honours in seventh.

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