Kris Meeke scored a second special stage win at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse to strengthen his lead at the midpoint of Friday’s opening leg.
Stage info: SS2
Plage du Liamone - Sarrola-Carcopino 1, 29.12km
A fast climb from Liamone beach leads to a tight hairpin at Casaligione. There’s a change of pace and profile as a wide, twisty road heads to Furcina bridge before a string of corners along a winding bumpy climb to Calcatoggio hairpin. After the villages of Sant’ Andrea d’Orcino and Cannelle, wide asphalt leads to Col de Sarzoggio and then a tricky run down to the finish.
Having outpaced Sébastien Ogier in the first speed test, the Citroën C3 driver did exactly the same in the next one. This time he was 3.2sec quicker than the Frenchman’s Ford Fiesta to increase his advantage to 8.9sec.
“That was a really consistent stage. This is the stage where Ogier blitzed everyone last year by 10sec on each pass. But we had a good recce and it’s showing in the times. Let’s go to regroup, put on some new shoes (tyres) and see what we can do this afternoon,” he said.
After being unhappy with the handling of his Fiesta on the opening stage bumps, Ogier modified the settings before SS2 and felt more confident.
“A good feeling on this stage as the road was a bit smoother. We found some tweaks on the car and although it’s not perfect, it’s better,” he explained.
Thierry Neuville was again third in a Hyundai i20 Coupe to lie 17.2sec from the lead. The Belgian struggled for rhythm and believes there is more pace to come as he pondered set-up changes in the mid-leg regroup.
Ott Tänak also changed his Fiesta’s set-up after the opener but was less happy than team-mate Ogier. “In the wide roads I’m struggling a lot with the balance. It’s not so nice,” said the Estonian, who was fourth fastest and is 4.3sec behind Neuville.
Dani Sordo was fifth, a further 5.2sec back in his i20 Coupe with Craig Breen a content sixth in the stage and overall in his C3. The Irishman was 3.0sec adrift of Sordo and 5.1sec clear of Jari-Matti Latvala, who blamed himself for being too hesitant with his pace notes.
Hayden Paddon was eighth, the Kiwi feeling good with his driving but disappointed at his times. Stéphane Lefebvre and WRC 2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen completed the top 10.
Elfyn Evans limped through with a hydraulic problem in his Fiesta and the Welshman dropped two minutes. Juho Hänninen retired his Yaris before the stage after hitting a bridge and damaging a steering arm in the previous test.