In the second and final part of our look back at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse, we name our Driver of the Rally and spotlight the key moment in Thierry Neuville’s maiden win of the campaign.
Turning Point of the Rally
Just as the first pass through Saturday’s Novella stage provided drama as Kris Meeke’s Citroen C3 expired in a smoky exit, the afternoon’s second run gave Neuville the break he needed.
The Hyundai driver held a slender 2.2sec lead over Sébastien Ogier following the 48.71km drive from La Porta to Valle di Rostino. When he began the journey back to the Bastia service park after the repeat of Novella, the gap was almost 40sec.
Hydraulic problems left Ogier limping in what was effectively a rear-wheel drive Ford Fiesta and Neuville was setting his sights on his first win of 2017.
Driver of the Rally
After the way his C3 behaved on wintery asphalt at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Meeke must have been dreading Corsica’s sealed surface roads. The talk in the French Alps was of suspension problems and a car that was seated too low.
The French squad worked hard in testing on the island and the C3 was a car transformed. Meeke won three out of four stages on Friday and was almost 20sec clear when his engine failed. A sad end to a tremendous drive.
One to Forget
Candidates for this were Juho Hänninen and Elfyn Evans. Crashing into a bridge in the opening stage and putting his Toyota Yaris off the road again in the penultimate test was the case for the Finn. His two top three times on Saturday excused him.
Instead the wooden spoon went to Welshman Evans. Hydraulic problems ruined his opening leg and on Saturday morning’s second test he went off down a bank and his Fiesta stayed there. Sunday was relatively calm in comparison.
Save of the Rally
When Ogier exited Sunday’s opening stage having lost 20sec and dropped to third behind Dani Sordo, it didn’t look good. The tight-lipped Frenchman refused to elaborate on his problems but later spoke about trying to salvage points.
It turned out an intermittent electrical issue was the cause of his time loss. He and co-driver Julien Ingrassia parked on the following liaison section and replaced an electronic control unit (ECU) in the Fiesta to try to solve the issue. The efforts weren’t in vain as the switch did the job and Ogier regained second in the final stage.