WRC

Tour de Corse: Final summary

Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) claimed his third consecutive victory, and his second straight Rallye de France success. The Frenchman won by 29.0sec and now leads the drivers' championship by 11 points. Behind Gronholm, young Spaniard Dani Sordo secured...

Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) claimed his third consecutive victory, and his second straight Rallye de France success. The Frenchman won by 29.0sec and now leads the drivers' championship by 11 points. Behind Gronholm, young Spaniard Dani Sordo secured his second career podium after taking his first on home ground two weeks ago. Fifth enabled Alex Bengue (Peugeot) to climb into fifth in the championship. Eighth for Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru) and 11th for team-mate Petter Solberg guaranteed the team a double points finish. Twelfth for Harri Rovanpera (Skoda) on his debut for the team and 16th for team-mate Andreas Aigner gave them the final manufacturers' points, a happy way for Rovanpera to celebrate his 40th birthday yesterday.

Kronos Total Citroen

Just two weeks after the RallyRACC Catalunya, it's a case of deja-vu for the Kronos team. The squad finishes the sequence of asphalt events at the start of the year with two victories in two rallies. Once more there are two Xsara WRCs on the podium. And in Corsica, there are three Xsaras in the top six. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "In Catalunya, my choice of set-up at the start of the rally was hardly ideal and then Marcus hit problems. This time we both had a clean run. The Xsara and its BFGoodrich tyres were extremely competitive, the team was faultless and we were able to bring home a victory that was extremely important to us. In Corsica, in front of all our fans, on an event I love, which is the Rally de France ! In the short term, this is a valuable win as it gives me a lead of more than 10 points in the driver's championship. This means I have some breathing space, which is useful as the gravel rallies coming up will be extremely tough. Looking further ahead, this 23rd win takes me close to Carlos Sainz's record - which is obviously a big thing for me. "

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: " After two retirements, it was vital for me to finish the rally. Notwithstanding the fact that the potential of the Xsara on asphalt is capable of targeting some big points in the manufacturers' championship. When I realised that I would not be able to catch Alex [Bengue], I concentrated on the five points that I would definitely be able to score for the team. "

OMV-Peugeot Norway

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has reached its goal at the "Rallye de France - Tour de Corse". Seventh overall place and two WRC-points mean that the OMV duo Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor defended fourth place in the FIA World Rally Championship intermediate ranking. Thus the Austrians have ridden out the tarmac interlude. Now it's back onto gravel where Manfred Stohl feels more than just at home.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "I think for now we have reached the zenith on tarmac. The time missing on the top could only be made up by extensive testing. I'm very happy about the two WRC-points and glad that we'll be back on gravel for the next three rallies."

BP-Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen claimed their fourth podium finish in five rallies by finishing second on the Rallye de France Tour de Corse today. The Finns won two speed tests and were fastest in the third and final leg over the twisty and challenging mountain roads in Corsica in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished fourth in a similar BP Ultimate and Castrol-branded Focus RS to secure their best result of the season on this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "Second place is a good, solid result and while a driver is never totally happy with second, I am pleased with the eight points it brings. I didn't have the chance to win here against Loeb. I think I can beat him on asphalt but I just don't know where or when. I didn't have enough experience of the new Focus in competition on asphalt to match him. It's the first time in Corsica with the car and we haven't tested on roads like this so we're still learning. I felt something was missing but I don't know what that was. But the team is only three points from the championship lead and that puts us in a strong position going back to three gravel events."

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "Third would have been great but I'm lucky not to be halfway down a mountain. About 8.5km after the start of the last stage I slide wide in a corner onto some gravel. The car was totally off the road and I thought we would tumble over the edge. Thankfully we didn't and I eased off after that. I drove to the maximum until then and it was fantastic, but I had to think about the manufacturer points as well. It was like driving on a knife but I had a great rhythm and feeling with the car."

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson fought back in the final day of Rallye de France - Tour de Corse to move up the standings after crashing out of the running early on Saturday. The 19-year old from Cumbria is the youngest and only British full-time driver in the FIA World Rally Championship, and endured an early off in the first stage of the rally's second day when he had been in 17th place overall. Sunday was far better and worked to Wilson's plan in his rookie season of accumulating knowledge for his future career in the most dynamic of motorsport disciplines.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "After completing the stages on Sunday it's been a really good experience. I'm annoyed with myself for what happened on Saturday. This is certainly the most difficult rally I've ever contested and it's frustrating to have missed running on a third of it, especially as it's going to be a year before we come here again. It was difficult in the morning today, I was nervous as hell for the first stage, just trying to find the pace that wasn't stupid but not so slow you were annihilated by everybody. We just settled in and after the first few kilometres we got a nice flow going and it seemed to work."

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: Retired (Accident)

555 Subaru

Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin continued to test set-ups and gather more development data in the final Leg of the 2006 Tour de Corse. Both drivers had trouble-free runs in their Subaru Impreza WRC2006s and finished the rally eighth and 11th respectively to collect seven manufacturers' points. Chris Atkinson improvement on asphalt continued and he bettered each of his times in the repeat of the stages to conclude the event in 13th overall.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "I'm actually glad it's over. I tried everything I could but we have a lot of work to do before we are fast enough on this surface. The focus now is the next rally. The result here has made me more determined to get a good finish in Argentina; I'm hungrier that ever to go for a win. I will not be playing at all in Argentina, I promise you."

Stephane Sarrazin/Stephane Prevot: "This weekend was a bit difficult. We finished eighth only when the target was to be on the top. Last year we were fighting for the podium so we are a bit disappointed but if you want to be positive we didn't make any mistakes and we did some good times. I pushed all the weekend and we know what we need to do now, so we are focussed on the next rally already."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We're pleased with what we've done, but obviously a bit disappointed not to be in the points, that's what we are after and we'll have to keep pushing. Come Argentina, the next rally, I'm sure we'll be there fighting and we'll definitely be going flat out from the start."

Red Bull-Skoda Team

Raimund Baumschlager and Armin Schwarz gave a very univocal summary of the events: "We expected a slightly better result from our drivers. But an accident like Andreas' can always happen, and Harri first had to familiarize himself with the car and the team. We are happy that we gained three points in the manufacturers' championship and were thus able to improve our position. Now we will prepare for the WRC event in Sardinia where Red Bull Skoda will compete next."

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietelainen: "The rally was very tough for me from the beginning. To drive a completely new car for a new team on asphalt after an elongated break isn't easy. Additionally I was rather hampered by the flu. Now I'm looking forward to the gravel stages of Sardinia, we will do better there for sure."

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: "After my mistake yesterday I just tried to secure a point for Red Bull Skoda in the manufacturers' championship. Apart from that I already felt quite comfortable on tarmac and was able to notice a clear improvement compared to Spain."

-rallyenewsletter.com-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Stéphane Sarrazin , Carlos Sainz , Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Armin Schwarz , Timo Rautiainen , Manfred Stohl , Jari-Matti Latvala , Mikko Hirvonen , Jarmo Lehtinen , Miikka Anttila , Ilka Minor , Xavier Pons , Alex Bengue , Matthew Wilson , Michael Orr , Chris Atkinson , Andreas Aigner , Timo Gottschalk , Raimund Baumschlager
Teams Citroën World Rally Team , M-Sport