Sébastien Ogier hopes set-up tweaks recently trialled on his Ford Fiesta WRC will give him an edge over his rivals as he targets a second consecutive victory at this week's Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse [6 - 9 April].
The fourth round of the season, the Tour de Corse will be the first time that competitors will rally on asphalt since the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Having won the Monte, championship leader Ogier is eager to transfer his early form to the all-asphalt Mediterranean island rally he won last year for Volkswagen.
Key to the team's preparations was a five-day test in Corsica last week, during which Ogier, his team-mate Ott Tänak and fellow Fiesta pilot Elfyn Evans covered more than 1,200 kilometres tuning the car to Corsica's notoriously tight and twisty roads.
"We’re back to asphalt and I had a good feeling with the Fiesta in Monte-Carlo, but this event offers a completely different surface which demands a slightly different approach," Ogier said.
"We had a good test to find the best set-up for what are very unique stages. Working with the team, we were able to explore a lot of different settings with the dampers and centre-differential which I hope will see us well placed to challenge for another strong result."
"We’ve seen some very close battles this year, and I expect that to continue. We’ll certainly be doing our best to be in the battle, and the ultimate goal will be to come out on top," he added.
After three rounds, M-Sport leads the teams' championship by 36 points from Toyota Toyota Gazoo Racing, and M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson is positive about his chances of another strong points haul this week.
"The team are feeling optimistic about the challenges ahead," he said. "When the Ford Fiesta WRC was last in asphalt trim at Rallye Monte-Carlo, all three cars secured stage victories and we have further developed the car and set-up since then.
"We certainly have the potential to deliver another strong performance and that has to be our aim. But we’re under no illusions. We know how challenging this event can be and a strong result won’t come without the continued hard work from every single member of the team."