WRC A FULL 2016
A typically tough opening leg in Corsica!.
Featuring four long stages, day one of the Tour de Corse more than lived up to expectations. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle spent the morning fighting for the lead but lost time in the afternoon due a puncture. The crew ended the leg in eleventh position, whilst Craig Breen and Scott Martin were fifth overall after performing consistently throughout the day.
30th September 2016
Following Thursday evening’s ceremonial start and a night in parc ferme at Ajaccio for their cars, the Tour de Corse competitors attacked the first leg this morning. The schedule featured four long stages completed without a service break, with two passes on Acqua Doria – Albitreccia (49.72km) and two runs on Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carcopino (29.12km).
The narrow gaps at the end of SS1 proved that the leading contenders had already charged straight into battle. Despite a spin, Kris Meeke set the second fastest time, just four seconds behind Sébastien Ogier! Meanwhile, on his first stage on tarmac in a World Rally Car, Craig Breen scored the sixth fastest time.
Having to contend with the dirty conditions left by the eight cars ahead of him in the running order, Kris set the fourth fastest time on SS2, but he held onto second position overall. After a short break in Porticcio to fit new tyres, the Briton set off again on the Acqua Doria stage. Unfortunately, he picked up a slow puncture after a few kilometres and had to stop to change the tyre. In order not to impede their team-mates, Kris and Paul set off again behind Craig and Scott, crossing the finishing line having lost 2:27.2 to the leader.
The time lost left Kris down in thirteenth position, but the Portugal and Finland winner fought back immediately to set the second fastest time on SS4. He ended day one eleventh overall, around fifteen seconds adrift of eighth place.
After ending the morning loop eighth overall, Craig Breen set two sixth fastest times in the afternoon. The Irishman’s consistency enabled him to move up the leaderboard, ending the day in the top five, the kind of result he was aiming for before the rally. And having ended the leg within twenty seconds of third place, he may even be thinking of aiming higher still!
Craig Breen: “I was pleasantly surprised today. I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the first stage, because I still have so many things to learn on tarmac in a WRC. My rhythm was good, but I had a few problems managing the tyres over these long stages. For the second loop, we decided to take two spare tyres – even if it meant losing a bit of time – and I also adjusted my driving style. Overall, I’m very pleased to finish in the top five on my first day on tarmac. We’ll need to put into practice some of the things we’ve learned today, especially as tomorrow’s stages look more difficult to me.”
Kris Meeke: “The morning went pretty well. On the opening stage of the afternoon, I don’t know what happened but I felt that we had lost some grip on the left-hand side. I kept going for a bit before it became clear that we had a puncture. We stopped to change the wheel because there were still a lot of kilometres left on the stage. It’s really strange because it didn’t feel like we had hit anything at all. As I’m not competing in the championship, I can’t be too frustrated by the situation, but I would have liked to keep fighting for the lead all the same. Having said that, I’m pleased with my rhythm and my speed throughout the day. We’ll try to keep doing the same thing tomorrow and just enjoy ourselves in the car.”
UNOFFICIAL STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) 1:37:52.8
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +44.9
3. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo R WRC) +58.0
4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo R WRC) +59.3
5. Breen / Martin (DS 3 WRC) +1:18.7
6. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.2
7. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:00.7
8. Evans / Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +2:36.3
9. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:39.1
10. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:41.9
11. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +2:51.9
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