Super Swede Tom Kristensson heads a raft of rookies bidding to protect their hold on the top three places in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship in Corsica this week.
Series newcomers ruled the opening round in Sweden last month. Kristensson delivered a measured victory on the snow and ice and takes an eight-point lead to the fiendishly tricky asphalt mountain roads of Corsica linea - Tour de Corse.
Fellow new boys Roland Poom, from Estonia, and Spain’s Jan Solans filled the remaining places on the Sweden podium, but Corsica’s twisty and abrasive roads present an entirely different challenge for the trio and their 10 Ford Fiesta R2 rivals.
Unlike others, Kristensson has a solid asphalt background having previously competed in Germany’s ADAC Rallye Cup and the European Championship. His thoughts have been focused on the series’ only asphalt fixture since his home victory.
“Corsica has been at the centre of my attention and preparations since winning Rally Sweden. I have followed this rally for a while and think it is a great event. Our target is the same as usual: get experience, finish every stage and have fun along the way,” he said.
Poom must quickly adapt to the vagaries of an event nicknamed the Rally of 10,000 Corners due to its constant twists and turns, as he can’t match Kristensson’s asphalt experience.
“Corsica will be quite a challenge for me as it will be my first time there and also my first ever Tarmac rally. We had a good test before the event, despite my little Tarmac experience and I feel quite confident on the surface,” he explained.
Solans is many people’s tip for the front. “Tour de Corse is our most desirable rally as this type of road is very similar to what I have experience with. I think it’s our chance to show our pace,” he said.
Last year’s championship runner-up Dennis Rådström and Julius Tannert both bring the experience of two previous starts to the island, while Tom Williams and Ken Torn also have previous knowledge of the event.
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