Leg 1: two CitroÃ«n C2 Super 1600s on top The opening leg of the 50t h Tour de Corse, which took place in glorious spring sunshine, saw the CitroÃ«n C2 Super 1600s of Kris Meeke/Glenn Patterson and Brice Tirabassi/Jacques-Julien Renucci...
Leg 1: two Citroën C2 Super 1600s on top
The opening leg of the 50t h Tour de Corse, which took place in glorious spring sunshine, saw the Citroën C2 Super 1600s of Kris Meeke/Glenn Patterson and Brice Tirabassi/Jacques-Julien Renucci monopolise the fastest time on all four of the day's stages, and the two crews currently sit on top of the provisional JWRC leaderboard.
Brice Tirabassi was 1/10t h of a second quicker than Kris Meeke on SS1 to emerge as the fastest Citroën C2 Super 1600 driver over the long, challenging run between Ampaza and le Col de Saint Eustache (32.89km). His time proved that he is very much back in the swing after suffering from food poisoning during the recent Rally Catalunya. "I'm back on form," announced the Var-based driver at the end of SS1. "The car is quick and a pleasure to drive. I immediately found my marks again and I am absolutely delighted. I'm also very pleased for everyone in the team after they rallied round me during the difficult moments that marked my return to world rallying two weeks ago in Spain."
The following 27.78km run between Aullène and Arbellara saw the 2003 Junior World Champion hand the lead however to his team-mate Kris Meeke. "Two kilometres after the start, I took a left-hander a little too tightly and brushed a wall. No damage was done but the incident unsettled me slightly and I wasn't really bang on the pace for the rest of the stage," admitted Brice back at service where the signs of his shave were visible on the front-left rim.
After taking command on SS2, Kris Meeke held on to top spot over the second loop of stages which were a repeat of the first two. The 2005 JWRC bronze medallist profited from the afternoon to claim two further fastest times and extend his cushion over Brice Tirabassi to 32.8s. "The set-up of the car is perfect and the car is first class," enthused the young Ulsterman who was understandably delighted. "Glenn and I kept up a good pace throughout and I would describe our day as perfect."
The latest phase in the apprenticeship of Julien Pressac and his co-driver Gilles de Turckheim at this level of competition was rewarded with a convincing 6t h place this evening. The French crew made regular progress during the day in comparison with their rivals, including their two team-mates running at the top of the leaderboard. "Every kilometre I cover is more experience under my belt," commented the 2005 Citroën C2 Rally Challenge winner. "But I just want to take things step by step. I'm under no particular pressure and my only incident was a brush with the scenery at the rear right corner, four kilometres from the end of the day's final stage. But it was nothing much and, happily, th e C2 is a strong car!"
With three Citroën C2 Super 1600s inside the provisional JWRC top-six tonight, including first and second places, Citroën Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton was pleased with the day but remained cautious in his summary of the leg. "It's effectively been a positive day, and that's good. However, our crews mustn't drop their guard. They mustn't forget that the Tour of Corsica comes with more than its fair share of pitfalls and hazards and the slightest error can prove extremely costly..."