Tour de Corse Final Leg Ford Review

Ford wins three stages on final leg in Corsica (6 May1998) Ford's Bruno Thiry scorched to fastest time on three spedal stages during a storming final leg attack in his Escort World Rally Car...

Ford wins three stages on final leg in Corsica (6 May1998) Ford's Bruno Thiry scorched to fastest time on three spedal stages during a storming final leg attack in his Escort World Rally Car on the Tour of Corsica which ended in Ajaccic this afternoon. The Belgian was in the midst of a fierce battle for second position throughout the third and final day of this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship before eventually finishing a points-scoring fifth. Only a high-speed spin on the final special stage of the 1,145km rally denied 35-year-old Thiry and co-driver Stephane Prevot a higher finish as their valvoline-backed Escort proved the dominant car on today's bone-dry asphalt mountain tests. Fastest time on three of the day's five stages enabled Thiry to complete the final day an incredible 50.1 seconds faster than rally winner Colin McRae. As the drivers began the final 20.54km stage, Thiry was fourth and having reduced the overnight gap between him and second-placed Piero Liatti from 44.1 seconds to just 13.2, he had every chance of snatching a dramatic runners-up position. However, the hopes of the Ford world Rally team driver were thwarted 8km from the start. "We lost maybe 10 seconds on the stage with a very high-speed spin which left me a little shaken," explained Thiry. "We were driving as hard as possible because we were so close to second position, which last night had seemed an almost impossible target. "The team made a few slight changes to the cars specification for the final leg. Whereas I didn't have much confidence yesterday. I felt so much better today, competing on exactly the same stages on which I drove well on the opening day. On perfectly dry roads like this, it's much easier for the tyres and the Ford is a very good car on dry asphalt. as we showed today," added Thiry. Finnish pair Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo, driving the second Ford World Rally team Escort. finished ninth after lending their support to Thiry's challenge. Four-time world champion Kankkunen drove today's middle section with harder compound Michelin tyres than Thiry, enabling the team to make a comparison between the times of the two drivers and ensure Thiry had the perfect rubber for the final two stages. Kankkunen enjoyed a troublefree day, the Finn even unruffled by an incident on the day's second stage when he spotted a cow roaming by the side of the road midway through the test. The animal had earlier caused worries to both McRae and Carlos Sainr who encountered it on the road. Ford world Rally team director Malcolm Wilson reflected on an event in which Thiry won four of the 17 stages with a superb driving performance on the first and third legs, offset by a frustrating second day in which valuable seconds were lost due to less than ideal tyre choice on the rapidly drying roads. "A clear indication of the Escort's strengths can be seen from tho fact that Bruno set fastest time on almost 25% of the stages in this rally, but obviously I'm disappointed with the end result," he said. 'The times in Corsica have shown how competitive World Championship rallying has become, especially when you see Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen, the two most successful drivers of all time, finishing eighth and ninth. "Both Escorts have run faultlessly with only routine maintenance required and we've again proved that the car is a dominant force in the championship. Juha is now looking forward to returning to gravel roads on the Rally of Argentina later this month- We've made some exciting engine modifications and are confident we can get back in front of the other manufacturers in the championship standings," added Wilson. CAPTION: Final Positions 1 C McRae/N Grist GB Subaru Impreza 4hr 02min 46.9sec 2 F Delacour/D Grataloup E Peugeot 306 4hr 03min 14.1sec 3 P Liatti / F Pons I Subaru Imprezza 4hr 03min 16.9sec 4 G Panizzi/H Panizzi F Peugeot 306 4hr 03min 23.0sec 5 B Thiry/S Prevot B Ford Escort 4hr 03min 32.7sec 6 D Auriol/D Giraudet F Toyota Corolla 4hr 05min 26.2sec 7 F Doenlen/J-M Andrie F Citroen Xsara 4hr 06min 48.0sec 8 C Sainz/L Moya E Toyota Corolla 4hr 06min 50.4sec 9 J Kankkunen / J Repo FIN Ford Escort 4hr 07min 34.5sec 10 P Magaud/M Perin F Citroen Xsara 4hr 10min 59.1sec CAPTION: 1998 FIA World Rally Championship (after round 6 of 14) Drivers Manufacturers 1 C McRae 24 1 Subaru 35 2 C Sainz 22 2 Mitsubishi 32 3 R Burns 18 2= Toyota 32 4 J Kankkunen 16 4 Ford 25 5 D Auriol 15 6 T Makinen 14

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Juha Kankkunen , Stéphane Prévot , Juha Repo , Malcolm Wilson
Teams Citroën World Rally Team