Sébastien Ogier’s second straight speed test victory at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse earned the Frenchman a comfortable 21.1sec lead at the midpoint of Friday’s opening leg.
Stage info: SS2
Piedigriggio – Pont de Castirla 1, 13.55km
A new stage north of Corte that starts on fast roads at the exit of Piedigriggio village. It twists uphill before crossing Popolasca, whose peak tops out at more than 2000 metres, and the Croce d’Arbitro pass. The stage plunges downhill on a narrow, twisty and technical road to the finish just before Castirla Bridge.
Ogier’s delight was in contrast to the disappointment of Sébastien Loeb, who slid straight on into a deep ditch at a left corner 400 metres after the start.
His Citroën C3 was not badly damaged but the four-time rally winner, second after the opening speed test, could not regain the road.
Ogier was fastest by 2.0sec in his Ford Fiesta through the Piedigriggio - Pont de Castirla special stage. The test offered plenty of opportunity for cutting corners but he admitted he was cautious in the cuts to reduce the risk of potential punctures.
Second fastest Kris Meeke was annoyed by his C3’s intercom cutting in and out but the Briton climbed to second overall following Loeb’s demise.
He was 2.3sec clear of an unhappy Thierry Neuville. “The car isn’t working as it should,” was all the disgruntled Belgian would say as he left the stage finish en route to Bastia.
Neuville had 1.7sec in hand over Ott Tänak. The Estonian was concerned about his Toyota Yaris’ handling at the rear, but he was 12.6sec to the good over Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta. The Welshman was forced to slow briefly at the scene of Loeb’s crash.
Sixth fastest in the stage promoted Dani Sordo to sixth overall. The Hyundai i20 pilot was 3.2sec ahead of Esapekka Lappi, who shared second fastest time with Meeke.
After also struggling with the handling of his Yaris in the opening stage’s wet sections, Jari-Matti Latvala’s mood was little better after SS2. He lacked confidence under braking and was a lowly eighth, already 53.0sec off the lead.
The Finn headed Andreas Mikkelsen by 0.2sec, the Norwegian conceding a handful of seconds after his i20 plunged into a ditch. Bryan Bouffier, fifth in the stage, completed the top 10 a further 1.2sec behind.