SS1: Ogier dominates opener

Sébastien Ogier was a convincing winner of Friday morning’s opening speed test at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse to lead fellow Frenchman Sébastien Loeb.

Stage info: SS1

La Porta – Valle di Rostino 1, 49.03km
A legendary stage to start things off. A technical uphill section from the start ends at La Porta church, before twisty and bumpy roads run through Giocatojo and up 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. Identical route to 2017.

The constant twists and turns of the 49.03km speed test from La Porta to Valle di Rostino provided an abrupt wake-up call and Ogier was not sleeping. He was fastest by 9.7sec, even though all was not well inside his Ford Fiesta.

“I struggled a lot and nearly spun several times,” explained Ogier, who complained his car almost stalled in tight hairpins, a problem similar to that experienced on asphalt in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Loeb was content in his Citroën C3. “There was a lot of gravel on the road and I tried to go faster, but it was difficult to know if I was in the rhythm or not,” he said.

Ott Tänak was a further 8.4sec back in a Toyota Yaris. The Estonian had brake problems early in the stage after hitting standing water, but once they returned to normal operating temperature there was only some minor understeer issues to worry him.

Just a second behind in fourth was Kris Meeke, the Briton reporting the roads were starting to become dirty as drivers cut corners. “There’s a lot of standing water on the inside of corners that’s being pulled out and onto the stage but I’m happy,” said the C3 driver.

A frustrated Thierry Neuville was fifth in a Hyundai i20. Brake problems and a lack of grip hindered the Belgian all stage and he was 21.2sec adrift of Ogier.

Elfyn Evans completed the top six, the Welshman settling in well with co-driver Phil Mills, deputising for the injured Dan Barritt.

Andreas Mikkelsen spun his i20 at the first corner and struggled to find any rhythm afterwards. The Norwegian was eighth.

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