Corsica debrief: part 2
In the second part of our Corsica linea - Tour de Corse review, we look at the fortunes of the two Sebs and ask whether Thierry Neuville’s weekend was quite as bad as it appeared.
Stage of the Rally
What a way to start. More than half an hour of intense concentration and pin-point precision through the classic 49.03km speed test from La Porta and its famous church over the Col Saint Antoine and via several narrow villages to Valle di Rostino.
An amazing challenge and one in which Sébastien Ogier laid the platform for victory. The French maestro was almost 10sec quicker than second-fastest Sébastien Loeb and nearly 20sec clear of Ott Tänak in third. The pattern was set.
Just one stage later and Seb the younger was more than 20sec to the good as Seb the elder reflected on a simple error which left his Citroën C3 stranded in a ditch 400 metres after the start.
Loeb was too hot through a right corner and caught out by dirt on the road heading into the following tighter left, understeering into the scenery.
We’ll never know how hard Loeb could have pushed his fellow countryman but three fastest times during the weekend, when he had nothing left to fight for, sent a clear message that the magic was still there. As if any of us really had any doubts.
Save of the Rally
Monosyllabic answers to questions and frequent shakes of the head revealed the level of Thierry Neuville’s frustration as he laboured to third in a Hyundai i20 that proved no match for Ogier’s Ford Fiesta.
The bottom step of the podium was not what Neuville expected 12 months after standing on the top. But to salvage 15 points from a bad weekend in the office is something he may look back on with satisfaction come the end of the season.
Such ‘rescue’ jobs served Ogier well en route to his fifth title last year.
Surprise of the Rally
Was second for Ott Tänak on his full asphalt debut in a Toyota Yaris really that much of a surprise? Probably not given the way the Estonian has settled into his new team with a series of hugely impressive performances across the first four rallies.
A thumping fastest time in Sunday’s marathon 55.17km test from Vero to Sarrola-Carcopino cemented the runner-up spot at his least favourite WRC event and one at which he has struggled previously.
Corsica debrief: Part One
Looking back at the first all-asphalt rally of 2018
Homework time for Hyundai
Nandan calls for asphalt performance step-up
Meeke: no hard feelings
Citroën driver philosophical after early exit in Corsica