Intimate knowledge of the latest road and weather conditions will be crucial factors behind the complex tyre choice decisions at this weekend’s asphalt WRC encounter in Corsica.
The final say ultimately rests with the crew. But teams gather as much advance intelligence as possible to help weigh up the pros and cons of hard or soft compound rubber, a mix of the two and whether to use that mix horizontally across the axles or even diagonally.
The decision is frequently made just minutes before a car leaves the service park for a group of special stages and key to that choice is the data provided by a competitor’s safety crew, comprising a driver and co-driver.
They drive the stages at the last possible moment before the roads are closed to outside traffic. They search for changes in the conditions since the recce was completed and advise of fresh hazards that competing co-drivers add to their pace notes.
Safety crews are experienced competitors in their own right and there are many familiar names performing that role at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse.
Working for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi’s Craig Breen is Mikko Hirvonen, a winner of 15 WRC rounds in his career. Former Skoda works driver Alex Bengue steers Stéphane Lefebvre’s safety car.
At Toyota Gazoo Racing, Jari-Matti Latvala is guided by former Ford factory crew Toni Gardemiester and Jakke Honkanen, while team-mate Juho Hänninen is assisted by the squad’s development driver instructor, Jouni Ampuja.
Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville has enlisted the services of ex-Ford driver Bruno Thiry. Hayden Paddon is aided by experienced WRC driver Brendan Reeves and Seb Marshall, soon to become the Kiwi’s new co-driver.
Former Ford works driver Simon Jean-Joseph guides Sébastien Ogier, while Elfyn Evans is assisted by former British champion and father Gwyndaf and Phil Mills, world champion co-driver alongside Petter Solberg.
The full list in Corsica is:
|Team / Driver||Safety driver||Safety co-driver|
|Sébastien Ogier||Simon Jean-Joseph||Jack Boyere|
|Ott Tänak||Martin Kangur||Kuldar Sikk|
|Elfyn Evans||Gwyndaf Evans||Phil Mills|
|Hayden Paddon||Brendan Reeves||Seb Marshall|
|Thierry Neuville||Bruno Thiry||Julien Vial|
|Dani Sordo||Enrique Ojeda Garcia||Pablo Marcos|
|Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT|
|Kris Meeke||Stephen Whitford||Derek Brannigan|
|Craig Breen||Mikko Hirvonen||Andrew Hayes|
|Stéphane Lefebvre||Alex Bengue||Thomas Chauffray|
|Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT|
|Jari-Matti Latvala||Toni Gardemeister||Jakke Honkanen|
|Juho Hänninen||Jouni Ampuja||Mikko Heikkilä|