Newly-crowned Junior WRC champion Simone Tempestini said the Che Guevara Tour de Corse was a tough psychological challenge after chronic gearbox problems threatened to derail his chances of winning the title on the Mediterranean island.
Tempestini’s closest challenger in the championship race was Ole Christian Veiby. But the Norwegian lost 15 minutes on the opening day with turbo problems and that effectively ended the contest. Tempestini just had to finish in the points to take the Junior WRC crown.
However, the gearbox on the Italian’s Citroën DS 3 R3T started to cause problems on the second day and got progressively worse as the stages were chalked off. By the rally-ending Power Stage, Tempestini had no option other than to nurse his car through in second gear.
“Psychologically this was a very hard rally. I knew from the stat that I had to finish and that it was not necessary to win. But sometimes I didn’t think it would be possible and that made things hard to manage,” he said.
“We don’t know the problem with the gearbox. It started with the clutch and a one hydraulic part that was not working properly on Friday and then it got much worse on Saturday. We changed some parts in service but it got worse.”
Tempestini thought his rally was over on a number of occasions as he fought to battle through the last two stages with a gearbox that he feared was terminally damaged. But he managed to scrape through and seal fourth place on the road.
He explained: "We couldn’t select first gear on Sunday’s first stage and then we only had third gear for the first part of the longest stage and only second gear for the second part. I was scared to touch the gears because I knew it was broken. We did the whole of the last stage in second gear.”
But Tempestini’s determination was rewarded. His Junior WRC prize is a six-rally WRC 2 programme in a Citroën DS 3 R5 for 2017.
“The feeling for winning the title is hard to realise at the moment but for sure I’m very happy,” he said. “My prize for next season is a fantastic gift and I would like to use it in the best way I can.”