TWISTS AND TURNS OF CORSICA AWAIT TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WORLD RALLY TEAM
Tour de Corse next date in the 2017 World Rally Championship
The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team head for the Mediterranean next week for the Tour de Corse, the fourth stop in the 2017 World Rally Championship (6 to 9 April). France’s round of the WRC is the first in the season to take place on pure asphalt surfaces on a famously tight and twisting route around the island of Corsica.
Following the ice of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the snow of Rally Sweden and the heat and high altitudes of Rally Mexico, the team will be prioritising further development of the Yaris WRC car. Although this is their first championship season, they have made an extremely positive start, holding second place in both the manufacturers’ and (with fast Finnish pilot Jari-Matti Latvala) drivers’ standings.
The Tour de Corse returned to the WRC calendar in 2015 after a six-year break and is renowned for its sinuous stages, which have earned it the nickname “The Rally of 10,0000 Corners”. The mountainous route is highly demanding for the drivers with unyielding rock faces, sheer drops and changing surface quality that makes tyre wear an important factor. Once again the challenge will be taken up for Toyota by Latvala with co-driver Miikka Anttilla and the compatriot pairing of Juho Hänninen and Kaj Lindström.
The rally is based in Bastia and will start from the island’s capital, Ajaccio on Thursday with two loops of two stages. No first-day servicing will be permitted beyond a tyre change ready for more than 130km of stage action on Saturday. The event will conclude on Sunday with a power stage in which additional championship points can be secured.
Latvala won the Tour de Corse in its comeback year and was a winner in France (Alsace) in the previous year’s championship. Hänninen has made one appearance on the event, in 2008, winning the production class.
Both drivers have prepared for the rally with two days of testing in Corsica on roads similar in character and quality to those they will be competing on. Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, said: “We had a very good test, introducing more new elements to the car, and from what we can see so far our performance on asphalt seems quite promising. We hope that we have the car to get a result but of course our objective does not change: we just want to gain experience and learn.
“There are a lot of positive things I can see heading into this rally: firstly, Jari-Matti likes the event and is in a very good mood, so when drivers are in this frame of mind it means they can perform well. He is second on the road but in Corsica that should not be a problem, as there is very little corner-cutting so road conditions should be good for him. Also Juho is now fully recovered from his illness. Despite not feeling well he still managed to finish the last rally in Mexico and get some points with a great performance, so this should give him even more confidence now that he is fully recovered.”
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round three:
1 Sebastien Ogier 66
2 Jari-Matti Latvala 58
3 Ott Tanak 48
4 Dani Sordo 30
5 Thierry Neuville 28
6 Kris Meeke 27
7 Craig Breen 20
8 Elfyn Evans 20
9 Hayden Paddon 17
10 Stephane Lefebvre 10
11 Juho Hänninen 9
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round three:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 103
2 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 67
3 Hyundai Motorsport 65
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 55
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