THE C3 WRCs ALL SET FOR CORSICAN CHALLENGE!
Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle topped the timesheets whilst Sébastien Loeb – Daniel Elena were seventh fastest on a shakedown stage not entirely representative of the difficulties ahead this weekend, as they confirmed their good feeling in the C3 WRC on the Corsican tarmac.
The Tour de Corse's 5.45 kilometre-long shakedown stage, contested this morning in Sorbo-Ocagnano, was unusual in that it featured many deep cuts. And with the heavy rain that has fallen on the island in recent days, the corners proved to be especially greasy.
In conditions like these, you had to be among the very early starters to have any hopes of setting a good time, before the road surface gradually became more and more covered with mud. And yet Kris Meeke, fourth in the running order, immediately went to the top of the timesheets, before then confirming his excellent form with another promising time on his second run.
Sébastien Loeb – who was ninth in the running order – initially got his bearings in the tricky grip conditions, before then becoming the only driver to improve on his second run to claim the seventh fastest time, suggesting he will be a force to be reckoned this weekend in Corsica, a rally at which he is a four-time winner (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008).
Since the greasy conditions are not expected to feature in the rest of the rally, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews decided to limit their efforts to the three mandatory runs. Following this evening's ceremonial start in the centre of Bastia, the real action gets underway tomorrow, starting with the heavyweight challenge of La Porta – Valle di Rostino (49.03km). A challenge that will need to be tackled again in the afternoon…
WHAT THEY SAID
"It was a tricky shakedown, with yesterday's rainfall and since it was getting muddier and muddier, there was no point in doing any more runs. Especially as we're not expecting grip conditions to be like this in the rally itself. Nevertheless, there might still be damp patches in the wooded sections tomorrow morning. I felt comfortable in the car today, I was able to handle the grip conditions, and that's what matters most to me."
"The conditions were as expected: very greasy, with plenty of mud dragged onto the road on the cuts. So I didn’t want to go flat out on the first pass, especially as I hadn't driven in low-grip conditions with the car. Once we had completed one pass, I upped my pace on the second run and straight away, I had a good feeling in the car."
- Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:00.8
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:03.0
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:03.8
- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:04.3
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:05.1
- Evans / Mills (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:06.1
- Loeb / Elena (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:06.4
- Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:08.5
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:08.5
- Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:08.6