Monday | 03 Apr 2017

Corsica countdown: rally route

The FIA World Rally Championship returns to Corsica this week just six months after its previous visit and competitors will tackle an almost carbon-copy round-the-island route for round four.

The previous edition of the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse was last October, but this 60th version of the asphalt encounter has been switched to early spring to split a long series of six gravel fixtures.

Given the short turnaround and the popularity of last year’s format, organisers have scheduled the same special stages for the 6 - 9 April event. However, several tests have been trimmed to reduce the competitive distance to 316.80km from almost 400km.

The character of this first all-asphalt round of the season remains unchanged. Relentlessly twisty mountain roads wind around craggy rock faces, often with big drops on the other side, earning it the nickname ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’.

The asphalt is often abrasive and tough on tyres, although resurfaced sections allow the rubber a welcome break from the constant scrabble for traction on damaged roads.

The north-eastern town of Bastia is again the base and the rally features stopovers in all the Mediterranean island’s principal towns.

Island capital Ajaccio hosts Thursday evening’s start ceremony before Friday’s gruelling opening in which two stages on the west coast will be driven twice with no mid-leg service. Drivers face more than 120km with just a tyre change in Porticcio after the opening loop until the respite of evening service.

Saturday’s second leg is the longest at almost 132km and comprises two identical loops of two stages in the north, split by service at Bastia Airport.

The final day is the shortest at 64.20km but features a sting in the tail. Drivers wake up to the marathon 53.78km test from Antisanti to Poggio di Nazza, the longest of the weekend, before the live TV Power Stage and the finish in Porto-Vecchio marina.

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