Tour de Corse: BFGoodrich preview

Corsica Tours Just four days after the finish ceremony of the RallyRACC Catalunya, which ended in a Citroen/BFGoodrich one-two for Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo, Thursday will see the World Rally Championship's stars line up for the start of...

Corsica Tours

Just four days after the finish ceremony of the RallyRACC Catalunya, which ended in a Citroen/BFGoodrich one-two for Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo, Thursday will see the World Rally Championship's stars line up for the start of next weekend's Rallye de France-Tour de Corse. Loeb will be looking for another win on his home event in an attempt to edge even closer to Marcus Gronholm who currently tops the Drivers' championship standings by six points.

In the course of its 50-year history, there have been some memorable Tours of Corsica, but perhaps the most impressive of the Mediterranean island's 'tours' ? which can also be translated as 'tower' ? is the 16th Century Tour de Campomoro.

Built in 1586 by the Genovese to protect the island from invaders and pillagers, it stands majestically on the coast of the Valinco Gulf. This Friday, however, instead of warding off marauding visitors from the across sea, it will serve as an unmistakable landmark for competitors and spectators on the 2007 Tour de Corse heading for the start of SS2.

The event itself promises to be a bumper edition, with no fewer than 17 WRC cars on the entry list and, for the first time in two years, four manufacturers due to line up for the start. Indeed, in addition to Citroen, Ford and Subaru, Suzuki has chosen the thirteenth round of the championship to launch its new BFGoodrichequipped SX4 WRC.

The weekend is likely to be a huge challenge for the Japanese carmaker, if only because the Tour de Corse is probably the most exacting asphalt round of the entire season. The island's twisty, bumpy roads call for faultless transmission and suspension, its steep climbs require an extremely efficient powertrain and its giddy descents dictate impeccable braking, while the event as a whole needs the cars and their tyres to work in perfect harmony.

For BFGoodrich, too, the Tour de Corse stands out a significant challenge. Its stages are almost certainly the toughest of the year and rarely give tyres a chance to recover in between the demands made on them when accelerating and under braking. They must also be capable of withstanding the continuous weight transfers engendered by the countless corners and also deal with potentially hot asphalt, rain and carpets of fallen chestnuts. Corsica may well be the ideal holiday destination for tourists, but for the g-Force Profiler it offers no respite whatsoever!

The difficulty is further compounded by the potentially changeable weather conditions that frequently blow in over the island at this time of year. To complicate matters, heavy showers can break over one side of a mountain yet leave the other entirely dry, making tyre choices something of a lottery at times.

This year's visit to Corsica will also be the scene of a further clash between Loeb and Gronholm who are split by just six points in the provisional Drivers' standings. It is here that the Frenchman sprang to international attention back in 2000 and he starts his home round as odds-on favourite. His Finnish rival finished second here in 2006, however, and adding the legendary Tour de Corse to his list of wins would be a fitting way to end his glittering WRC career.

QUOTAS. Priority 1 drivers have a maximum quota of 65 tyres, of which they will be able to use up to 42 (rally + shakedown). These tyres were registered with the FIA on October 8.

LOGISTICS. Contesting two events in the space of just one week clearly poses a certain number of logistical problems, both for the teams and, more especially, for BFGoodrich which took 2,200 tyres to Spain in nine semi-trailers. Two of the latter returned to Clermont- Ferrand on the Sunday evening after to event to be loaded up with new tyres for the Tour de Corse on Monday evening once the teams have registered their tyre lists with the FIA. They will then immediately set off for Ajaccio, while the seven other vehicles moved on directly to Corsica with all the equipment and tyres for the privateers.

JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP. The outcome of the BFGoodrich-backed series will be decided in Corsica. PG. Andersson's win in Spain has put him back on top of the provisional standings, level with Urmo Aava! The name of the 2007 champion will be known on Sunday.

BFGOODRICH IN THE IRC. The 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge is drawing to a close, with just two events remaining: the Rallye du Valais (Switzerland) at the end of October and mid-November's China Rally. The recent Rally Sanremo saw Italy's Luca Rossetti (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) secures his second success in this year's series (after Ypres in June) ahead of Basso (Abarth/BFGoodrich) and Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich). The event also marked the return to the competitive arena of three-time Sanremo winner Gilles Panizzi who came fourth with his Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich after receiving a 50-second penalty. Garcia Ojeda continues to top the Drivers' standings, seven points clear of Navarra and Vouilloz who are equal second. Peugeot leads the Manufacturers' championship with a 17-point cushion over Abarth.

BFGOODRICH ? ITALIAN CHAMPION. The Rally Sanremo also saw BFGoodrich make sure of winning the 2007 Italian Championship, the home series of its Italian rival. With two rounds remaining, only two BFGoodrich drivers ? Giandomenico Basso (Abarth) and Luca Rossetti (Peugeot) ? can still hope to take the title. Mathematically, the latter still has a chance but Basso is expected to retain the crown. BFGoodrich tyres have won five of the eight rounds that have been contested to date in the fiercely fought series.

BFGOODRICH AND VOLKSWAGEN IN MOROCCO. VW Race Touareg 2/BFGoodrich drivers finished first and second on the recent Rallye du Maroc, fourth round of the 2007 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. South Africa's Giniel de Villiers beat team-mate Carlos Sainz to claim his third win on this event. The outcome was decided on the very last stage, prior to which the Volkswagen pair was split by a mere eight seconds! BFGoodrich's tyres faced a tough ordeal over the aggressive terrain, with rocks, searing heat, long stages and the ferocity of the fight making punctures practically inevitable. However, Carlos Sousa (4th, VW/BFGoodrich) survived the 1,730km of rocky trails without suffering a single puncture.

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Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Gilles Panizzi , Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Carlos Sousa , Giniel de Villiers , Luca Rossetti , Urmo Aava , Giandomenico Basso
Teams Citroën World Rally Team