After seven years absence, WRC again at Corsica
Tour de Corse Rallye de France, 11th round of World Rally Championship, starts today at Corsica. One of the most famous world’s rallies, which was on the original fixture list when WRC was created back in 1970s, was absent from WRC from 2008. In the meantime rally was a part of other rallying series (ERC, IRC, France Cup), but now the best world rally drivers again will fight against each other on event which was called The Rally of 10,000 corners.
2015 Tour de Corse has diferent format from other rallies in WRC schedule because of only nine special stages, with total lenght of 332 km. Last special stage (Power Stage) is shortest (16,7 km), all others are from 29 to 48 km. Stages will hold at twisty and narrow mountain roads, combined some rugged sections that have not been driven competitively for almost 30 years and faster parts over newer, smoother asphalt.
Each of three legs contains three special stages. The rally starts and finishes in Corsica’s west coast capital of Ajaccio. Single service park is based in Corte in the centre of the island. Each evening’s halt will be in a different location as the rally pauses in the other major towns of Bastia in the north-east and Porto-Vecchio in the south-east.
Despite seven year absence from WRC, it’s interesting that majority of drivers in World Rally Cars had some experience at Corsica. The most experienced Corsica veteran is Dani Sordo, who competed there six times. He debuted in 2004 with Mitsubishi Lancer. He collected WRC podiums in 2006 and 2007 with Citroen but most successful was in 2012, when he won with Mini Cooper at the event which was a part of Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Former Subaru works driver and surrent Toyota WEC driver Stéphane Sarrazin won last year in a Ford Fiesta RRC and finished third in 2013 in a Mini Cooper S2000 when the rally was a European Championship fixture.
Thierry Neuville has competed just once, but won in 2011 in a Peugeot 207 S2000, while the other winner is Bryan Bouffier. He topped the podium in 2013 in a similar car, finished second last year and fourth in 2012. Martin Prokop won the Junior WRC category at Corsica in 2007 and 2008.
Volkswagen trio also had experience at Corsica. Jari-Matti Latvala had five starts and two fourth places, Andreas Mikkelsen drove there four time. Sebastien Ogier was second in Junior WRC category at 2008 Tour de Corse, in a year when he became Junior World Champion.