Friday | 09 Oct 2015

Mixed reaction to Corsica return

Corsica’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship sparked strong emotions from senior team personnel and drivers.

While the problems created by storms, which forced the cancellation of two stages, were received sympathetically, many believed Tour de Corse – Rallye de France was not up to current world championship standard and far below the level of the Alsace fixture it replaced.

It ran to an untypical WRC format, with just three stages scheduled in each leg and a different overnight halt each day, requiring long liaison sections after the final service in Corte. The service park there came in for strong criticism.

“There were no spectators in the service park and when Elfyn Evans was leading after day one, nobody was there to hear the drivers’ press conference. By contrast, Alsace had one of the most vibrant service parks of the year and you had to fight through the crowds to get to the press conference,” said M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson.

“The service park was not WRC standard and far from what we had in Strasbourg. Only 30 percent of our service area was on Tarmac, something that could have been rectified quite easily,” he added.

“The service park was the worst of the season and it’s not up to how a world championship event should be,” said another senior team official.

Another long-standing WRC attendee added. “Rain is not unusual in Corsica at this time of year. While I sympathise over the weather, walking around in ankle deep mud was no fun. Hard-standing throughout the service park is essential for teams and fans,” he said.

Drivers also raised concerns.

“The feeling was almost a bit empty,” said Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. “With less stages it felt like we were driving less and standing around waiting more. While it’s great to see organisers trying to come up with new ideas, I don’t feel this one worked for competitors, spectators, media or teams.

“We missed some action, especially with cancelled stages, because we only had two stages on Friday and Saturday. If you follow the rally from afar, then you don’t bother with just two stages. That’s too little,” said Sébastien Ogier.

“I think we should maybe reconsider the itinerary to make more action. Maybe one day with long stages, but not all the rally.”

However, team-mate and winner Jari-Matti Latvala enjoyed the mountain roads. “There are great stages with a great feeling and rhythm. Conditions were demanding, normally in Corsica they are more consistent. The rally was good when it was in Alsace and this is different, but it’s a good event,” he said.

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