Thierry holds second place after mixed Friday
They call it the Rally of 10,000 corners, so its perhaps no surprise that the opening day of Tour de Corse has given our crews a stern test.
On paper, Fridays itinerary seemed straightforward with just four stages to run. But when you consider those tests have covered a total competitive distance of almost 160km, the challenge becomes much more intense.
We have had a mixed start to the rally the tenth round of the 2016 Championship but Thierry and Nicolas have the podium in their sights. Our Belgian pair, driving the #3 New Generation i20 WRC again this weekend, finished Friday in second place overall.
We havent been able to take the fight to Ogier so far, said Thierry, but second place will hopefully set us up nicely for the rest of the weekend.
Danis Hopes Deflated
Thierry and Nicolas have picked up where they left off at the last rally in Germany, where we scored a double podium. Unfortunately, Dani and Marcs efforts were affected by a puncture in Fridays final stage a repeat of the 29.12km Plage du Liamone Sarrola Carcopino.
Our Spanish stars had started strongly, running third, but they lost two minutes of time in the final stage. They will be aiming to recover ground on Saturday.
Its been far from a good start to the rally for us, admitted a disappointed Dani. We wanted to consolidate our top-three but we had a rear puncture in the first half of the final stage. We lost nearly two minutes of time as a result which has dropped us down the classification.
Fighting for Fifth
Hayden and John finished in fifth place in last years rain-affected Tour de Corse. Our Kiwi crew are once again in the hunt for a top-five this weekend after a day of positives and some late frustration.
Im definitely feeling more comfortable on these Corsican stages in the dry conditions, said Hayden. It has been a case of building things up step by step. We had a puncture 8km from the end of the final stage, which lost us a bit of time. Well just work to take the positives from today forward into the rest of the weekend and see if we can break into the top-five.
More to Come
Following a long Friday, which crews had to navigate without the benefit of a lunchtime service, Saturdays itinerary will be equally grueling. A further four stages will be held over a total distance of 169km with two runs through the 53.72km Orezza La Porta Valle di Rostino.
Thierry and Nicolas will be hoping to continue their fine form, as we look to secure our first ever podium on Corsican tarmac.
There are a few more details we want to adjust to make the behaviour of the car more consistent, but its been a decent start to the rally, said Thierry.
Our Team Principal Michel Nandan is also looking on the bright side: We know that this rally is challenging – but its great for us to experience these tight and twisty Corsican stages for the first time in fully dry and hot conditions, he said. All crews have had positive moments today, particularly Thierry, even if weve also had a few issues.
Overall Classification after Day 1
1. S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:37:52.8
2. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +44.0
3. J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +58.0
4. A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +59.3
5. C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:18.7
6. H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:26.2
7. E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:00.7
8. E. Evans / C. Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +2:36.3
9. D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:39.1
10. M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:41.9