----------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Petri Karonen (C) 1995. May not be reproduced without author's permission. Permission is automatically granted for non-commercial use provided that the author is notified of the reproduction. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
World Rally Championship Tour de Corse As the Safari Rally was this year out of the FIA gr. A championship the top competitors moved directly from Portugal to Corsica. The Safari Rally was a part of the F2 championship but due to the extremely tough conditions in Kenya only one of the mere 8 group F2 starters finished the rally. The one was rather surprisingly Kenyan Anwar Azan who drove a Korean Daewoo; the first international success for both the driver and the marque. The Safari itself was won by Yoshio Fujimoto who drove a factory backed gr. A Toyota. Second was Kenjiro Shinozuka with the brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. Tour de Corse was the real WRC debute for Mitsubishi's new version of the Lancer which had been tested excessively in Corsica and naturally the team's hopes were high. But it was the RAS Ford Escorts that were strongest in the beginning of the rally. Remarkably, from the first special stage Belgian Bruno Thiry took the lead; he was leading a WRC rally for the first time in his life. Francois Delecour followed all through the 8 stages of the first day within a few seconds from Thiry, despite almost hitting a herd of cows on the road(!). Third was Didier Auriol of Toyota and fourth Andrea Aghini with the new Mitsu Lancer Evo III. His team-mate Tommi Makinen, being first time in Corsica, wasn't used to the twisty paved mountain roads and even touched the cliffs with the back of the car. He was at the end of the day 12th. Behind Aghini came the Subarus, led by Carlos Sainz (5th). Juha Kankkunen was 8th, suffering from steering troubles. On the second day Thiry continued his nearly ecstatic driving and extended the lead over Delecour to 35 seconds. Andrea Aghini dropped to 6th with problems and Didier Auriol closed within 2 seconds from Delecour who had minor problems with the gears. 4th, 1:21 behind the leader, was Carlos Sainz with his team-mate and asphalt specialist Piero Liatti only one second behind. World Champion Juha Kankkunen dropped even more as he got a one minute penalty for coming late to a time control. The only retirement of the top names after two days was Toyota's Armin Schwarz who lost the electrics of his Celica. The last day of Tour de Corse was perhaps the worst day of Bruno Thiry's life. It started fine as he was heading for his first WRC win but on the penultimate special stage of the rally a front wheel bearing broke and made the car undriveable. He was able to limp to the end of the stage but once again due to the service regulations the mechanics couldn't do anything to fix the problem, so Thiry had no options but to retire. Thiry's team-mate Francois Delecour was also in trouble; he hit a rock bending a steering rod and lost his position to Didier Auriol who thus took his 6th win of Tour de Corse. This was very valuable for him as this victory put him firmly back to the championship battle. The most stunning drive of the day was, however, that of Andrea Aghini's who passed both Piero Liatti and Carlos Sainz into a very good 3rd position. Subaru drivers Sainz, Colin McRae and Liatti were 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively, but they weren't very impressed by the Subaru Imprezas' performance on asphalt. 7th was last year's French Rally Champion Patrick Bernardini with a Ford and 8th Tommi Makinen of Mitsubishi. Winner of gr. F2, Philippe Bugalski with the Renault Clio Maxi, finished 9th ahead of the very disappointed Juha Kankkunen who had an off on the last day to top up the troubles in his rally. Because of the rotation system there is going to be a long summer break in WRC gr. A as the next race will be in the end of July.
Results of Tour de Course: 1. Didier Auriol Toyota Celica GT Four 5:14:49 2. Francois Delecour Ford Escort Cosworth -0:15 3. Andrea Aghini Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III -0:57 4. Carlos Sainz Subaru Impreza -1:18 5. Colin McRae Subaru -1:43 6. Piero Liatti Subaru -2:27 7. Patrick Bernardini Ford -3:05 8. Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi -4:50 9. Philippe Bugalski Renault Clio Maxi -5:36 10. Juha Kankkunen Toyota -10:01 World Championship standing, drivers: 1. Carlos Sainz Subaru 50 points 2. Juha Kankkunen Toyota 38 3. Didier Auriol Toyota 36 4. Francois Delecour Ford 30 5. Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi 28 6. Kenneth Eriksson Mitsubishi 20 Bruno Thiry Ford 20 Manufacturers: 1. Mitsubishi 168 points 2. Toyota 163 3. Subaru 145 4. Ford 143 Next event: Rally of New Zealand, July 27-30. -- =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= = Petri Karonen Email: email@example.com = = World Rally Championship Infosystem: http://www.jyu.fi/~pakar/ = =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=