2015 Tour de Corse - Evans storms into Corsican lead | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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2015 Tour de Corse - Evans storms into Corsican lead

02.10.15

For the first time in his career, Fiesta RS WRC driver Elfyn Evans has taken the overnight lead in an FIA World Rally Championship event, the Welshman topping the timesheets by nearly 20 seconds in his first outing in Corsica. After the first day of competition in the Tour de Corse-Rallye de France he heads Hyundai’s junior driver Kevin Abbring, who also stormed up the leaderboard in the final stage, while Volkswagen’s highest climber is Jari-Matti Latvala who overnights third.

Corsica returns to the World Rally Championship for the first time since 2008 and the demanding mountainous roads and unpredictable weather on the Mediterranean island have provided some of the toughest conditions of the season. A cocktail of sunshine, torrential rain, floods and landslides have greeted the crews over the last few days, and the extreme weather conditions also caused the cancellation of the second stage, such was the flooding and debris on the roads. Consequently, just two of the three scheduled stages ran, but they nevertheless provided dramas for many.

Robert Kubica, who was fastest during the shakedown test yesterday, had a great run through the opening stage, despite being unhappy with the car set-up. The Pole and reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier shared the stage victory and looked set to continue their battle, despite Ogier also finding it difficult to get into a good rhythm. But, for both of them, the third and final stage of the day saw them knocked from the top spot. Kubica lacked confidence on the debris-strewn road awash with standing water, and Ogier picked up a slow puncture and was forced to stop and change the wheel. Kubica dropped to fifth and Ogier 10th.

Both Elfyn Evans and Kevin Abbring were the stars in the final stage. Evans, who has never competed on the Tour de Corse previously, stormed into the lead with a sensational stage time, catapulting himself from sixth into the lead. Similarly, Abbring who was seventh after the first stage, rocketed into the runner-up slot in only his second tarmac outing in the Hyundai i20 WRC. The Dutch driver is 4.2 seconds ahead of Latvala, who has played it safe in both stages. Mads Østberg moved into fourth this afternoon after Dani Sordo picked up a puncture in the last stage, the Spaniard dropping to a disappointing 14th overnight. Behind fifth-placed Robert Kubica is Stephane Sarrazin, the 2014 winner when the event was part of the FIA European Rally Championship. He is just 2.8 seconds adrift with Andreas Mikkelsen hot on his heels a further 1.4 seconds behind. Kris Meeke is eighth overnight, the DS 3 WRC driver adopting a cautious pace after seeing Neuville parked up in the first stage. Bryan Bouffier, also a former winner of the Tour de Corse, is ninth with a chasing Ogier on his heels.

Hayden Paddon had a heart-stopping moment in the final stage when he nearly went off the road close to a sheer drop; the New Zealander is 11th ahead of Ott Tanak and Stephane Lefebvre. The biggest casualty of the day was Thierry Neuville; the Belgian – who is another previous winner of the event - clouting a bridge and damaging the suspension on his i20 WRC in the opening stage. He was forced out but will return to action tomorrow.

Tour de Corse – Rallye de France – Unofficial Results after Section 2

1.   Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

46min 48.5sec

2.   Kevin Abbring/ Sebastian Marshall

Hyundai i20 WRC

47min 07.2sec

3.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

47min 11.4sec

4.   Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson

DS 3 WRC

47min 27.3sec

5.   Robert Kubica/Maciek Szczepaniak

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

47min 28.8sec

6.   Stephane Sarrazin/Jacques Julien Renucci 

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

47min 31.6sec

7.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

47min 33.0sec

8.   Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle

DS 3 WRC

47min 35.5sec

9.   Bryan Bouffier/Thibault de la Haye

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

47min 53.3sec

10.  Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

48min 01.7sec