Friday | 02 Oct 2015

SS1: Kubica and Ogier share Corsica lead

Robert Kubica and Sébastien Ogier were tied at the top of the Tour de Corse - Rallye de France leaderboard after Friday’s opening special stage near Ajaccio.

Stage info: SS1

Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carcopino, 29.12km
Friday’s opener provides an idea of what can be expected throughout the rally. It has a complete cross-section of roads, from narrow, twisty sections to faster sectors. It climbs on a wide road from the coast to Casaglione before a fast downhill stretch to Sarrola on similarly broad asphalt. In between, it is extremely twisty and narrow and mistakes will be punished.

Torrential overnight rain ensured tricky conditions and although the weather cleared in time for the start, ‘caution’ was the most-used word from the leading drivers at the end of the 29.12km test.

“It wasn’t easy and I was cautious. Nobody wants to push hard in these conditions but if you do push, it will really make a difference in times,” said Volkswagen Polo R driver Ogier, who was first to start the stage.

Kubica started much further down the order on dirtier roads. Although he was right on the pace in his Ford Fiesta RS, he struggled to keep his temper intact at the finish.

“Before the stage we had a bit of an issue and I was upset. I didn’t have the right set-up and the car was understeering. We had to fix other problems before the stage so we weren’t really pushing. I’ve already said too much,” said the cryptic Pole, who refused to elaborate.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third in his Polo R, 5.8sec off the lead, with Dani Sordo fourth in a Hyundai i20, the Spaniard reporting understeer towards the finish.

Mads Østberg was next up in Citroën’s DS3, the Norwegian reporting no major problems from the rib injury that ruled him out of the previous round in Australia. “The adrenalin from driving is fixing the pain,” he said.

The one big name missing at the stop line was Thierry Neuville. The Belgian retired just 1.2km after the start after hitting a bridge and breaking the rear suspension of his i20.

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