Thursday | 24 Sep 2015

Rally Rewind: Tour de Corse 2008

We are rewinding a long way this time - to 2008 when the Tour de Corse Rally de France was last included in the WRC. Back then we were smack in the middle of the Loeb era, Ford were busy with tactical shuffles and a future champion secured a crucial result.

Run from 10 - 12 October, the 2008 Tour de Corse followed just four days after Rally Catalunya as the second in a double-bill of tarmac events.

Driving Citroën's C4, Sébastien Loeb had won in Catalunya - and the three rounds before that - and was well on his way to a fifth drivers' title. It was no surprise then that he shot into the lead as soon as the Ajaccio-based event got underway.

Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo had finished second in Catalunya, and it looked like being a similar story here until he crashed his Citroën on the third stage and retired with a damaged roll cage. 

That left a trio of Ford Focus RS cars in pursuit, headed by works drivers Mikko Hirvonen and François Duval, then the semi-works Stobart car of Jari-Matti Latvala. The Subaru Imprezas of Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson were fifth and sixth.

On paper that's how the positions remained until the end. But the reality was more complex because Ford had to manipulate the order of its cars to maximise championship points after a series of punctures on the final day.

Loeb and Ogier both had reasons to celebrate in Corsica

First Hirvonen and then Solberg lost time with flat tyres, which left title contender Hirvonen trailing both his stable-mates. To correct things, Ford ordered Duval to check in two minutes early and Latvala nine minutes late to the final stage. The penalties promoted an appreciative Hirvonen from fourth to second.

Other notable WRC finishers were Mads Østberg, who celebrated his 21st birthday with ninth place in a Subaru Impreza and Ford Focus RS driver Andreas Mikkelsen who came 11th. 

The Tour de Corse was also a round of the Junior WRC and the entires included a number of familiar faces. Martin Prokop was the pace-setter, winning the category in a Citroën C2 S1600, while Kevin Abbring secured the 2008 Federation Trophy for KNAF in a Renault Clio.

Top billing in the juniors however was the title decider between Citroën's rising star Sébastien Ogier and Aaron Burkart. Ogier had crashed out of the previous round in Spain and needed only to finish ahead of his rival to seal the championship. He did that with ease, taking second to Burkart's fifth to secure an historic first FIA title.

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