Wednesday | 07 Oct 2015

Corsica driver report: Part 1

In the first of a two part summary, we analyse how the top drivers fared on the storm-lashed roads of the Tour de Corse - Rallye de France.

Thierry Neuville. Hyundai i20 WRC
In his own words: a horrible rally. A previous Tour de Corse winner, Neuville [above] began as one of the favourites to do well. But his challenge came to an abrupt end seconds into the opening stage when he slid wide into a bridge and broke his suspension. Retirement was instant and the Rally 2 time penalty dropped him way out of contention. Finished in 21st position vowing to come back stronger on the next round in Spain. 

Lorenzo Bertelli. Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Another driver keen to forget his Corsica experience, Bertelli said his car was 'undriveable' on the opening stage and found no significant improvement as the rally went on. Handling issues were put down to a front differential which could not be changed and this, his Pirelli tyres and Saturday's dirty roads left him in a situation 'like hell' on day two. He soldiered on to build experience but retired before the Power Stage when he was in 19th position.

Stéphane Lefebvre. DS 3 WRC
Citroën's protege has a lot to learn this season, but the atrocious conditions he found in Corsica were a new and unexpected challenge. He wisely adopted a cautious approach, choosing to get maximum mileage under his belt without risking an early exit. Gradually he turned up the pace as the event progressed and on Sunday morning he felt confident enough to try a stage on a mixed-compound tyre choice for the first time. Eleventh was a good outcome - but it would have been tenth had he not spun on the Power Stage.

Ott Tänak Ford Fiesta RS
Tänak wasn't able to find a good feeling on the opening stage and backed off the pace as his confidence slipped away. It never really came back. After two stages he was more than one minute adrift of the leader in 11th place. The inconsistent grip on Saturday's stages did little to boost his spirits, and although he did put in a few decent splits in the cleaner, drier sections, he was far from upbeat. Brought his car home in 10th, describing the rally as "definitely the worst rally we've ever done - from both a result and a driving point of view."

Mads Østberg DS 3 WRC
Back after his recce crash in Australia, Østberg delivered a solid sixth place for Citroën. It was an okay result but Østberg wanted more, and he was often both confused and frustrated at stage ends to see his time wasn't as good as he thought it would be. A set-up tweak to find more grip for Saturday's stages ended up having the opposite effect, and while he felt he could push no more on Sunday, he lost a place to Hayden Paddon.

Kris Meeke DS 3 WRC
Meeke's objective in Corsica was to help Citroën overtake Hyundai in the battle for the manufacturers' runner-up spot. And that's exactly what he did. After passing Neuville's stricken i20 on the first stage Kris switched to a more cautious strategy, and this paid dividends as one-by-one his rivals hit trouble. He wasn't too proud of finishing fourth, of course he'd rather be winning, but this mature, trouble-free performance has done him no harm.

Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta RS
After hitting rock bottom in Australia, Evans answered his critics with a career best second place and M-Sport's best result of the year so far. It was a terrific return to form for the self-effacing Welshman who was feeling the pressure after a lean run in the WRC. His stand-out performance on stage two shot him into an early lead, even though, typically, he didn't feel it had been that fast... It was no surprise that Latvala moved ahead on Saturday, but Evans judged his pace perfectly on Sunday to keep Mikkelsen behind.

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