The rain that has threatened to fall on the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse finally hit the mountain roads on Saturday afternoon to add to the difficulties posed by the twisty and bumpy asphalt speed tests.
Stage info: SS7
La Porta - Valle di Rostino 2, 53.72km
A legendary stage that has not been driven in its full format for several years. A technical uphill section from the Pont de Rimitorio start ends at La Porta church, before twisty and bumpy roads run through Giocatojo and up to the Col Saint Antoine. The descent on new and older asphalt heads through several villages before climbing again to Campile. A twistier road tracks the mountainside before a series of abrasive downhill hairpins leads to the finish.
Tyre selection was the big talking point as competitors left the Bastia service park for the afternoon’s two tests. All the leading drivers fitted four hard compound dry weather tyres and while the early starters cleared the opening stage in the dry, those further down the running order had to contend with wet roads.
Sébastien Ogier was quickest by 5.9sec from Thierry Neuville to increase his advantage to almost a minute. The Volkswagen Polo R driver was relieved to have avoided the rain.
“The stage was completely dry. We had some rain just before the start and it was on the limit but in the stage it was OK. We went on the safe side by taking two soft tyres as spares,” he explained.
Neuville was buoyed by a new rear differential fitted to his Hyundai i20 at the mid-leg service. “I had a very good stage. The change hasn’t made a big difference to the car but at the entry to corners I have a bit more turn-in and that’s what I wanted,” said the Belgian.
He was 5.4sec faster than Andreas Mikkelsen to increase the gap between the battling pair to 10.8sec. The Norwegian reckoned he pushed his Polo R too hard at the start of the stage because he was losing grip in the final kilometres.
Fourth for Dani Sordo promoted the Spaniard into seventh ahead of Eric Camilli, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Hayden Paddon completing the top six in the stage.
Latvala continued to struggle with the brakes in his Polo R, having changed the brake system since the previous round in Germany last month, while a frustrated Paddon remained unhappy with his driving.