Tour de Corse Subaru Preview

World Rally Championship: Round 6 - Corsica - 1 May, 0:35 -0100 The Tour de Corse is a driver's rally; fast undulating asphalt roads that require skill and courage as fortune favours the brave. The rugged mountainous island of ...

World Rally Championship: Round 6 - Corsica - 1 May, 0:35 -0100 The Tour de Corse is a driver's rally; fast undulating asphalt roads that require skill and courage as fortune favours the brave. The rugged mountainous island of Corsica is host to the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (4-6 May) and the 555 Subaru World Rally Team return there buoyed by the memory of a sensational victory by Colin McRae and Nicky Grist in 1997. Joining the British pair in the second Subaru Impreza 555 are Piero Liatti and Fabrizia Pons, with the Italians looking for victory on one of their favourite events. Corsica is notoriously perilous with low stone walls often being the only barrier between the road and treacherous drops off the side of a mountain. It is an event where tactics play an important part and where tyre wear is crucial on the often abrasive asphalt. For the tyre manufacturers the "Rally of 10,000 Corners" is one of the most demanding in the World Rally Championship. The succession of uphill and downhill curves is rarely broken by straightaways, causing high rubber temperatures. The search for maximum resistance and optimum performance on the long stages is perpetual. "We have done a huge amount of testing in Corsica trying to find the optimum tyre and car set-up combination," said David Lapworth, Technical Director of the 555 Subaru World Rally Team. "The drivers are very happy with the way the car feels and we seem to have found some significant improvements in the tyres. I think we can be quite optimistic about putting in a good showing and repeating our performance of last year." In cooler, damp conditions, Pirelli and their weather crews came up trumps for the 555 Subaru World Rally Team, and Colin McRae sped to a spectacular win in 1997. The Scot led the rally only twice after the first stage and, most importantly, the last. His performance on the closing stage demonstrated utter supremacy, clipping 15 seconds from Carlos Sainz to win by a commanding eight. Colin is one of only three of this year's leading drivers to win in Corsica despite only competing four times previously (1993-1995 & 1997). "Corsica is a very technical rally where it's vital to get the balance of everything right," he commented. "It is one of the most important asphalt rallies in the world and the victory there last year was on a par with my win in Kenya: very special. Winning here is never easy and the weather can often be the deciding factor. Sometimes you are in the position of having to choose tyres up to two hours before the stage is run, and if the weather turns and you find yourself with the wrong choice, the rally can be over for you that quickly," added Colin. Team-mate Piero Liatti returns to Corsica for the fourth time and although his highest position was fifth (1997), the Italian revels in the specialist nature of this rally. "I love Corsica because it is technical and a very distinct asphalt rally that suits me a lot," he said. "This year maybe 50 percent of the stages have changed and I don't know them yet, but everyone will be in a similar situation. A driver's approach can make a big difference in Corsica and, because you have to give 100 percent the whole time, it can be very intense. If you do well though, it is very, very rewarding." Buoyed by victory on asphalt in Spain, Frenchman Didier Auriol returns to Corsica as the second nominated driver for Toyota. On paper, he and team-mate Carlos Sainz are the 555 Subaru World Rally Team's greatest threat as, between them, they have 22 outings and seven victories to their credit between 1988 and 1995 (Sainz: 1991 and Auriol: 1988-1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995). In contrast, current World Champion Tommi Makinen has only competed twice in Corsica, finishing eighth, in 1995 and narrowly escaping a major accident on the second day last year. His team-mate Richard Burns is a newcomer to Corsica, but an impressive debut performance from the Mitsubishi Evolution V and new Carisma GT cars in Spain bodes well for the team. Juha Kankkunen and Bruno Thiry spearhead Ford's assault. Both have useful experience on Corsican roads, but the Finn has never finished higher than third (1989) and Thiry's best finishes were a pair of sixth places in 1994 and 1995. With few drivers benefiting from the results in Portugal, points in Corsica are crucial. Victory for Colin McRae could see him jump into the number one position in the Drivers' Championship and put Subaru back on course for their fourth consecutive World Manufacturers' title. Leading Entries DRIVER CAR 1 Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V 2 Richard Burns Mitsubishi Carisma GT 3 Colin McRae Subaru Impreza 555 WRC98 4 Piero Liatti Mitsubishi Carisma GT 5 Carlos Sainz Toyota Corolla World Rally Car 6 Didier Auriol Toyota Corolla World Rally Car 7 Juha Kankkunen Ford Escort World Rally Car 8 Bruno Thiry Ford Escort World Rally Car

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Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Richard Burns , Didier Auriol , Juha Kankkunen , Nicky Grist , Fabrizia Pons , Piero Liatti