Crews have singled out a section of Corsica linea – Tour de Corse’s [29 - 31 March] longest speed test that could provide the sternest challenge of the weekend.
The 47.18km Castagniccia stage – the longest of the rally – was always expected to be difficult because of its length. But the pre-event recce highlighted an extra challenge that the crews will need to be ready for when they tackle it twice on Saturday.
A section of the road has been only been half-resurfaced, meaning cars will have to drive around 6km on an unusual mixture of fresh asphalt and slippery gravel.
Describing the challenge, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kris Meeke said: “We go into a section where the road has only been half tarmaced for around 5 or 6 kilometres. They've resurfaced one side and then on the other side, you've gravel left and right and in between. That's a bit strange and a bit tricky – but that's Corsica.”
Sébastien Loeb, who has only competed on the Mediterranean island once since he took victory in 2008, admitted he isn’t relishing the prospect of driving on the mixed-surface section.
“For me, I don't like it,” the nine-time champion said. “The road isn't finished. The middle half of the road is on gravel and the other part is on Tarmac. You don’t know if you have to drive left or right.”
Meeke, meanwhile, acknowledged that the stage conditions are part of the unique challenge that Corsica presents and it will be up to the crews to adjust their approach.
The shakedown pacesetter added: “Like we've seen in Corsica every year, whoever gets in the rhythm and in the flow, will carry it through the whole rally. That bit's different [the partially resurfaced section] from the rest. But for me, if your rhythm flows good you'll be able to adapt."
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