The opening round of the 2017 FIA Junior World Rally Championship got underway at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse on Friday, and it was Nil Solans who emerged from day won with a healthy 40.1sec lead.
The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy graduate was fastest out of the blocks, going 20.2 seconds quicker than Irishman Rob Duggan through the 31.2km asphalt opener. And the Spaniard topped the time sheets again on the second pass of the same stage (SS3) to hold a useful advantage over Terry Folb.
“It’s been a really good day for us,” Solans said. “We started well and I’m pleased to hold this gap after the first day. Some places on the second pass were tougher than the first, but we had good grip and were able to push hard.”
Folb won the second stage in Corsica and was third quickest on the trio of other speed tests to ensure a consistent start to his first WRC event at the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R2T.
The Frenchman said: "We had a much better afternoon but the stages are quite difficult – it’s not easy. I’m here to win so we will try hard again tomorrow.”
Nicolas Ciamin just pipped Solans to the fastest time on the final test of the day and that was enough for him to hold on to third place at the end of the first day, just three seconds behind Folb.
William Wagner held fourth overnight and Duggan, who started well but slowly slipped back after struggling with his car's set-up, was fifth. Dennis Radstrom ended the day in sixth, albeit more than five minutes off the pace.
Germany’s Julius Tannert dropped out of the reckoning when he punctured a tyre after hitting a rock on stage one, while Estonia's Miko Niinemae was forced to retire when his car suffered a turbo problem on the second stage.