Nicolas Bernardi deserves more than his eventual eighth place on the Rally de France-Tour de Corse, after a final leg in which he was twice in the top three stage times. After playing himself in over the opening day, Nicolas showed himself to be...
Nicolas Bernardi deserves more than his eventual eighth place on the Rally de France-Tour de Corse, after a final leg in which he was twice in the top three stage times. After playing himself in over the opening day, Nicolas showed himself to be entirely worthy of the trust that team principal Jean-Pierre Nicolas had placed in him. Now the young Frenchman is eagerly looking forward to the start of the Catalunya Rally in a few days time.
As was the case over the preceding two days, the crews faced two stages in the morning that were repeated in the afternoon. The weather remained perfect throughout the 100 competitive kilometres that made up the leg. Nicolas Bernardi gradually increased his pace, having found full confidence in his 307 WRC. On the final two stages, he was second-fastest and third-fastest.
Nicolas Bernardi: "I deliberately started off the rally quite sensibly, because psychologically it was difficult for me to get over the fear of being in one of the best cars and not being able to make the most of it. The road conditions were very tricky on the opening day, with a lot of loose gravel on the stages. But after working closely with my engineers I was much more at ease over the following two days, and I am delighted with the pace that we were able to demonstrate. I cannot wait to get to Catalunya next week, where I can show what I am capable of on stages that nobody has ever driven before."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "The rally started off badly for us with the retirement of Marcus Gronholm, which was eventually traced to a clutch problem. Nicolas Bernardi was making his World Championship debut in a factory car, and it is easy to imagine the pressure which that brings. On the second day, we told Nicolas just to relax and enjoy himself, and straight away he started setting fast times. We have been fortunate to witness a young driver from the junior formulae begin to make a name for himself. He has not made any mistakes, and put in an excellent performance."