Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin continued to test set-ups and gather more development data in the final Leg of the 2006 Tour de Corse. Both drivers had trouble-free runs in their Subaru Impreza WRC2006s and finished the rally eighth and 11th...
Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin continued to test set-ups and gather more development data in the final Leg of the 2006 Tour de Corse. Both drivers had trouble-free runs in their Subaru Impreza WRC2006s and finished the rally eighth and 11th respectively to collect seven manufacturers' points. Chris Atkinson improvement on asphalt continued and he bettered each of his times in the repeat of the stages to conclude the event in 13th overall.
SS9: 0808 Penitencier Coti Chiavari - Pietra Rossa 1 (24.24km)
Crews left Ajaccio in bright sunshine for the start of Leg three, the 24km stage from Penitencier Coti Chiavari to Pietra Rossa. Petter Solberg had a tidy drive to record the seventh quickest time and closed the gap to Kopecky in 13th by 14secs. Subaru team-mate Stephane Sarrazin was just behind in eighth. Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm again monopolised the top two fastest stage times, ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo. The young Finn and Spaniard resumed their battle for third overall, with Hirvonen closing the gap to just 0.4secs with three stages remaining. Andreas Aigner restarted the rally following his retirement from Leg two, however he hit problems when he picked up a puncture 2km from the start and later spun as a result of a bad steering vibration.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 14:43.0
SS10: 0851 Pont de Calzola - Agosta 1 (31.81km)
After a short 11km road section, crews negotiated the 31km Pont de Calzola stage. A long, narrow speed test, the last 15km were exceptionally bumpy and covered with gravel. Petter Solberg picked up a front-right puncture but still recorded the ninth fastest time and moved into 10th ahead of Kopecky. Hirvonen and Sordo again fought for third. It was the Citroen driver who held the advantage through SS10, coming through seven seconds faster than the Finn to take the stage win. In the battle for fifth position Alex Bengue doubled his advantage over Xavier Pons to 16secs after the Spaniard had edged closer in the previous stage.
Fastest Time: Sordo (Citroen) 18:57.7
SS11: 1134 Penitencier Coti Chiavari - Pietra Rossa 2 (24.24km)
The first stage after service was the repeat of the Penitencier Coti Chiavari test that ended with a flat out 10km downhill section. Marcus Gronholm took his first stage win of the Leg, only 0.6secs quicker than team-mate Hirvonen. The young Finn's tussle with Sordo for third persisted, with Hirvonen this time carving back into the Spaniard's advantage. Hirvonen was 2.5secs quicker than Sordo to reduce the gap to just over five seconds with one stage remaining. Petter Solberg lost around 15 seconds when he spun 4km into the stage. The delay dropped him back behind Kopecky into 11th overall.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 14:44.7
SS12: 1217 Pont de Calzola - Agosta 2 (31.81km)
The 2006 Tour de Corse finished with the challenging Pont de Calzola -- Agosta speed test. Marcus Gronholm picked up his second consecutive stage win to secure second overall behind reigning World Champion Sebastien Loeb. The Frenchman came through the pass second quickest to seal victory on his home event by 29secs. Sordo and Hirvonen's fight went right down to wire, with the young Spaniard eventually taking the final podium spot by just over 10secs. Bengue and Pons rounded out the top six, with Stohl and Sarrazin picking up the final points. Subaru's Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson completed the test without problems to finish 11th and 13th respectively.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 18:57.0
SWRT SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA: Our performance this weekend has been below our expectations. Clearly we have work to do to increase our speed on asphalt and together with Pirelli we will continue to look for ways to improve. Fortunately for us, there are eleven more rallies left in this season Our target for the next events is to go for victory.
STEPHANE SARRAZIN: This weekend was a bit difficult. We finished eighth only when the target was to be on the top. Last year we were fighting for the podium so we are a bit disappointed but if you want to be positive we didn't make any mistakes and we did some good times. I pushed all the weekend and we know what we need to do now, so we are focussed on the next rally already.
PETTER SOLBERG: I'm actually glad it's over I tried everything I could but we have a lot of work to do before we are fast enough on this surface. The focus now is the next rally. The result here has made me more determined to get a good finish in Argentina; I'm hungrier that ever to go for a win I will not be playing at all in Argentina, I promise you.
CHRIS ATKINSON: We're pleased with what we've done, but obviously a bit disappointed not to be in the points, that's what we are after and we'll have to keep pushing come Argentina, the next rally. I'm sure we'll be there fighting and we'll definitely be going flat out from the start.
NEWS FROM PIRELLI
Mario Isola, Pirelli Competizioni Rally Manager
We are very happy with the increasing performances of Subaru Imprezas: we didn't start in the best way but, at the end, we demonstrated we are competitive The improvement, step by step, is quite significant, now we have to work hard as a team trying to best prepare for the next tarmac rally Obviously we want to completely change the result of the last two rallies and we are very confident for Argentina, on a much better surface for us
THE NEXT EVENT
Less than three weeks after the Tour de Corse, the World Rally Championship makes its only visit of the year to South America for Rally Argentina This year the character of the rally will change with its earlier slot on the calendar, theoretically meaning less of the rain and mud that is typical of mid-winter in the southern hemisphere Extremely tough on cars, with high altitudes and medium to fast soft gravel roads that can quickly become rutted and waterlogged, it's a challenging test for drivers