We head to the Mediterranean island of Corsica as it hosts Rallye de France for first time in seven years
September 25, 2015 Next week our team heads to Corsica for Tour de Corse, round 11 of the 2015 WRC calendar. It is the first time that the WRC has visited the island since 2008.
This will be the third rally of this season that we enter four cars, and the second time on tarmac stages. Kevin Abbring, who competed at Rallye Deutschland, is our fourth driver and will join Thierry, Dani and Hayden for his fourth WRC event of the year.
A strong performance at Rally Australia earlier this month saw us win five stages and finish in the top-five. Now we push to strengthen our place in the Manufacturers Championship.
Rallye de France was held in Corsica from 1973 to 2008 then moved to Strasbourg. Returning to Corsica this year, the rally will start and finish in the western coast town of Ajaccio and the service park will be in the central town of Corte. Similar to classic endurance rallies, there are only nine stages, with seven over 35km in length.
The tarmac stages will be tough on tyres so choosing the right ones will be important. Stages will be new to most drivers and require good pace notes. The twisting mountain roads are tough to navigate and why the event is known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners.
Corsica is an historic rally with a big reputation, commented Team Principal Michel Nandan. The format is very different. We have a central service park but the drivers will sleep every night in another base, so from a logistics point it requires extra effort. The weather will be important it is going to be difficult to get the right forecast and make the right tyre choices and car settings. We are participating again with four cars, Kevin Abbring joining Thierry, Dani and Hayden. He has experience here, coming third in the European Rally Championship (ERC) round here last year. Both Thierry and Dani have won rallies here before – they know the character of the roads so it will be good to see them challenging in the Hyundai i20 WRCs. We will push for points to retain our second place in the Manufacturers Championship.
Thierry has settled into his rhythm as the 2015 season has progressed. He aims to pick up as many points as possible, and has good memories of Corsica.
The Tour de Corse is a really nice event, said the Belgian. I won my first international rally in Corsica in 2011. I have been looking forward to going back, even if the routes have changed a lot. It is going to be a tough one in the mountains. The roads are tricky, very narrow and bumpy, so we will be careful to avoid punctures. Weather conditions can change quickly when on top of the mountains it is much colder, and rain comes fast. The itinerary is unusual with only a couple of very long stages each day – we will have to find the rhythm from the beginning. I will be aiming for as many points as possible and will not stop pushing until the end of the season.
Dani won three stages in Australia most recently and has also driven in Tour de Corse before. He came third in the WRCs 2006 and 2007 events on the island, as well as winning the IRC 2011 Corsica round.
I have good memories of Corsica, said the Spaniard, and some good results here. This year will be completely new, so it will be important to produce accurate pace notes so we can push. It is a classic rally, very technical – you have to be precise in positioning the car. I like the rally a lot – it is not so fast, as the roads are narrow and twisty. It is steep and there is an element of danger – the roads have cliff-drops on one side so it is important you drive with accuracy. The team has been great in preparing my car so I am excited to get out there and see the island again.
Hayden has been getting stronger as the season has continued – Australia was his fourth top-five finish this year. It is his first time driving in Corsica and he is excited by the new challenge.
The Corsica event has a lot of history, said the young Kiwi. I followed the rally when growing up and it is one of those legendary events, so its going to be nice to experience the Rally of 10,000 Corners. It will be a challenge on tarmac so we will try and use what we learned from Germany and the experience we had there. Weve done a lot of training so hopefully we can get closer to Thierry and Dani. I am feeling good after Australia and comfortable with the car so lets give it everything and see what happens!
Kevin drives for us for the fourth time this season, following runs in Sweden, Poland and Germany. He is getting used to the Hyundai i20 WRC and is looking forward to Corsica, where he came third in the 2014 ERC round on the island.
In Germany we had the opportunity to drive a lot of kilometres on tarmac, said the young Dutchman, so that should be good training. OK, Corsica is a bit different to Germany – very technical, a lot of corners. It will be about managing the tyres, because the stages are very long. It will be exciting, and I am keen to put everything Ive learned into practice.
The nine stages of this years Tour de Corse cover the entire island, and will make for a classic rally on challenging terrain. We are excited to drive a rally with such history as we aim to retain second place in the Manufacturers Championship.