Tour de Corse Leg Two Ford Notes

Sweet-running Escorts keep Ford duo in the frame (5 May1998) The Ford Escort World Rally Cars of Bruno Thiry and Juha Kankkunen each delivered faultless performances during today's second leg of...

Sweet-running Escorts keep Ford duo in the frame (5 May1998) The Ford Escort World Rally Cars of Bruno Thiry and Juha Kankkunen each delivered faultless performances during today's second leg of the Tour of Corsica as both drivers consolidated their positions on the leaderboard of this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Neither Valvoline-backed Escort gave any hint of trouble during the day's six special stages and Thiry and co-driver Stephane Prevot ended the leg in sixth position, still in a potential championship points scoring position. Ford World Rally team-mates Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo lie ninth in the second Escort. The positions surrounding Thiry are very tight and with less than 24 seconds covering four cars from fourth to seventh, much can happen in tomorrow's final leg. After yesterday's rainswept asphalt stages over mountain roads around the host town of Ajaccic, the weather relented today as the event moved north-east towards the town of Corte, returning to tests missing from last year's event, The soaking wet roads dried as the day went on, with only the final stage having any significant wet sections after a sudden downpour. However, damp conditions on this morning's two early stages ensured tyre selection remained difficult and both Fords dropped time with less than ideal choices of rubber. Both Thiry and Kankkunen accepted Michelin's dry weather tyres would have been a better option than the intermediate rubber selected as the roads proved drier than anticipated. Again on the following stage, the team's choice of soft compound tyres proved unsuitable for the dry' roads and Belgian driver Thiry' lost 15 seconds. "Yes, we dropped some time because of our tyre choice during the day and that was unfortunate," said Thiry. "But tomorrow we'll continue to attack and I'll be driving flat out, Our aim is to overhaul Didier Auriol and Francois Delecour but of course we must also keep an eye out behind us because Gilles Panizzi is close on our heels so it should be a good battle." Thiry collected three punctures during the day but on each occasion Michelin's ATS mousse system kept the tyre inflated, Indeed after changing a front wheel puncture on the short liaison section between stages 10 and 11, Thiry was unaware that the right rear tyre had also punctured until he and Prevot checked the tyre pressures. With only one spare wheel carried in the car, Thiry had to start the stage with the punctured rear tyre still fitted. However, the efficiency of the ATS system meant he completed the 31.91 km test, the longest of the three-day rally, less than 10 seconds behind stage winner Colin McRae. Thirty-nine-year-old Kankkunen was still frustrated by his performance on an event which he has tackled only twice in the previous eight years, conceding vital experience to some of his rivals. "We've had no problems today with the Escort but to be competitive on this island you need to compete here every' year and the last time I started this rally was 1995," he said "It's been a difficult day with our decisions on tyre choice being critical. We've driven stages which have been dry to begin with and wet by the end so any choice has been a gamble," added Kankkunen, Team director Malcolm Wilson confirmed that after two demanding days in the mountains, both Escorts are in tip-top form for tomorrow's final leg. "It's been a troublefree day with the cars which have both run perfectly," he said. "Its been difficult to make the correct tyre choice and we've been caught out with the changing weather but both Escorts are in good shape for us to attack again tomorrow" The final leg follows an identical route to yesterday's opening day, the six stages based on the mountain roads around Ajaccio The cars leave the town at 07.00 and return for the finish ceremony at 16.00 after another 134.65km of stages, CAPTION: Leaderboard after Leg 2 1 C McRae/N Grist GB Subaru Impreza 2hr 49min 21.5sec 2 C Sainz/L moya E Toyota Corolla 2hr 50min 08.6sec 3 P Liatti / F Pons I Subaru Imprezza 2hr 50min 13.3sec 4 F Delacour/D Grataloup F Peugeot 306 2hr 50min 39.1sec 5 D Auriol/D Giraudet F Toyota Corolla 2hr 50min 52.4sec 6 B Thiry/S Prevot B Ford Escort 2hr 50min 57.4sec 7 G Panizzi/H Panizzi F Peugeot 306 2hr 51min 03.0sec 8 P Bugalski/J-P Chiaroni F Citroen Xsara 2hr 53min 15.9sec 9 J Kankkunen / J Repo FIN Ford Escort 2hr 53min 15.9sec 10 F Doenlen/J-M Andrie F Citroen Xsara 2hr 53min 29.1sec

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Gilles Panizzi , François Delecour , Juha Kankkunen , Stéphane Prévot , Malcolm Wilson
Teams Citroën World Rally Team