Andreas Mikkelsen won all four speed tests at Friday’s opening day of the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse to build a commanding lead in WRC 2.
The Norwegian, driving a Skoda Fabia R5, finished 70sec clear of Teemu Suninen. Yohan Rossel stepped up from the Junior WRC to hold an impressive third on his WRC 2 debut.
Mikkelsen didn’t have it all his own way in the early stages of this fourth round of the season over narrow and twisty mountain roads on the island of Corsica.
Eric Camilli was second in the opening two tests and trailed Mikkelsen by only 5.8sec before hitting a bridge and damaging the rear of his Ford Fiesta R5 in the next one. He limped to the end but retired before the final stage.
Mikkelsen’s only problem was a final stage spin at a hairpin. “I had to reverse and lost quite a few seconds. I’m running my set-up a little bit differently on this rally and it’s easy to spin. My mistake. I have to be careful in hairpins and I was aggressive, but that was the only negative today.”
Suninen lost time with a handful of small errors and overheating brakes but the Fiesta R5 driver was 50.6sec clear of Rossel. Ole Christian Veiby was fourth in another Fabia R5, his advantage over Martin Koci only 4.1sec.
Koci also suffered overheating brakes but had almost a minute in hand over Emil Bergqvist, who made steady progress in his Citroën DS 3 R5 after fine tuning his set-up. Simone Tempestini had gearchange issues en route to seventh.
Pierre-Louis Loubet was fourth in the opening test but overheating brakes in his Fiesta R5 cost six minutes and he plunged to eighth. Jan Kopecký drove virtually the whole day with a damaged steering rack in his Fabia R5 and was ninth.
Yoann Bonato crashed in the opening stage, Laurent Pellier stopped in the penultimate test and Bryan Bouffier retired with broke rear suspension.