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May 10, 2013 - 04:35 PM
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FIA ERC 2013 Event Preview: Giru Di Corsica-Tour De Corse
Posted by: newsla on May 10, 2013 - 04:34 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
FIA ERC 2013 Event Preview: Giru Di Corsica-Tour De Corse


There will be serious competition ahead on round five of the FIA European Rally Championship as two Formula One racers line up for an event steeped in tradition and challenging in the extreme.

 

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Shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica, Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse is one of the most legendary rallies in existence with a demanding route around the picturesque Mediterranean island from 16-18 May.

Of the impressive 58-car entry – the event’s largest for five years – Robert Kubica and Stéphane Sarrazin are among the standout drivers in their turbocharged Regional Rally Cars.

Kubica, who has started 76 grands prix, is demonstrating his formidable talent and determination in this year’s ERC as he recovers to full fitness following a rally crash in 2011. Despite his limited knowledge of the sport, the Polish ace has led both ERC rallies he’s started to date in his Citroën DS3 RRC and has a tally of 15 stage wins to his name.

Sarrazin, who raced just once in Formula One in 1999 but has a strong record of success in the Le Mans 24 Hours, is making his ERC debut on Tour de Corse in a MINI John Cooper Works that he will drive for the first time during a test on Monday. While Sarrazin has previous experience of the asphalt rally – three times in competition and once as a zero car driver in 2012 – Kubica is a Corsica novice so will be building his experience from the first of 11 stages next Friday morning.

Twists and turns all the way
Affectionately known as the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ due to the proliferation of twists and turns on challenging mountain roads, the event starts in the tranquil setting of Calvi, on Corsica’s northwest coast, on the evening of Thursday 16 May. From there, crews tackle six stages on Friday’s opening leg around the town of Corte before the overnight halt in Ajaccio to the south. Saturday’s action starts and finishes in Ajaccio with five stages prior to the finish in the town that evening. With an overall distance of 929.55 kilometres, Tour de Corse is a tough test for both car and crew.

But it’s not just the constant cornering that makes Tour de Corse such a challenge: the bulk of the route runs over narrow mountain passes lined with unforgiving rock faces on one side of the road and steep drops on the other. The stages climb and fall and while most roads in Corsica have been resurfaced over the years, there are some sections on bumpy and broken asphalt.

Serious competition ahead
With 23 cars eligible for the headlining Super 2000 category, the competition on the 56th running of Tour de Corse will be intense. In addition to Robert Kubica and Stéphane Sarrazin, a host of star drivers will be in the battle for victory on the fearsome island roads. Jan Kopecký is the ERC’s man of the moment with three wins out of three starts this year for ŠKODA Motorsport. Renowned as an asphalt specialist, Kopecký produced one of the drives of his career in Corsica in 2012 as he closed on eventual winner Dani Sordo, who piloted the same MINI that Sarrazin will use this year.

Other firm favourites for Corsica glory include one-time Rallye Monte-Carlo victor Bryan Bouffier, rallying legend François Delecour and Peugeot Rally Academy’s rising star Craig Breen. Daniel Oliveira will fly the colours of the Brazil World Rally Team on his Fiesta, while highly-rated Frenchman Jérémi Ancian is the reigning Peugeot 207 one-make champion in his homeland.

Jean-Mathieu Leandri is the highest-seeded Corsican driver while fellow islander Jean-Dominique Mattei will be back in action 12 months after fire destroyed his car on this event. Meanwhile, Antonín Tlusťák will front the GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s challenge for the prestigious European Rally Championship for Teams.

As well as the battle for overall glory, the ERC Production Car Cup and ERC 2WD Championship will be closely fought, while the ERC Ladies’ Trophy will also be hotly contested. Among those chasing ERC Production Cup honours are Subaru Impreza drivers Andreas Aigner and Marco Tempestini, Mitsubishi Lancer runner Jaroslav Orskák and Team Renault Sport Technologies duo Germain Bonnefis and Robert Consani.

Kornel Lukacs, Vasily Gryazin, Slawomir Ogryzek, plus leading ladies Ekaterina Stratieva and Molly Taylor will be in contention for ERC 2WD laurels but will face strong opposition from top local drivers Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi and Petru-Antoine Boschetti.

Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse LIVE broadcast schedule*

Friday 17 May 2013
SS2: Erbajolo-Pont d'Altiani 1 (24.57kms): 11:00hrs-12:00hrs (Eurosport, France 3 Corsica)
SS6: Erbajolo-Pont d'Altiani 2 (24.57kms): 20:00hrs-21:00hrs (Eurosport2, France 3 Corsica)
Saturday 18 May 2013
SS8: Sarrola–Liamone 1 (26.70kms): 12:00hrs-13:00hrs (Eurosport, France 3 Corsica)
SS11: Sarrola–Liamone 2 (26.70kms): 18:00hrs-19:00hrs (Eurosport, France 3 Corsica)
* All timings are CET and subject to change

Q&A: STEPHANE SARRAZIN
Top circuit racer on his rallying return in the ERC

How did the agreement to drive the MINI come together?
“It was quite late. I was racing in Spa when I got a call from Willy Collignon from First Motorsport, who I know from when we won the French championship together in 2004. I had to get permission from Toyota, which I will drive for in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It has been a very quick experience but a very positive one because I like these very tricky roads with not a lot of straight lines, only corners. I have a very good car and a very good team so I hope I can do something good.”

What experience do you have of the MINI?
“I have none but I will drive the car on Monday for the first time. It is only one day but it is good enough to learn the car.”

Last year you drove the Peugeot 208 R2 as the zero car on Tour de Corse. Will that help you next week?
“It will help a lot because I did the full rally distance and the recce last year. Even though I was in the zero car, I pushed like I was doing the rally. It was a very good help for me, it was perfect, although I obviously didn’t know then that I would be doing the rally again in a car that can win.”

What’s your aim for the rally?
“I’m going for the win. The last rally I did was the French championship Rallye du Mont-Blanc last year in a Peugeot 207. I won the rally and I have been in Corsica with Subaru three times and finished eighth, sixth and fourth. The car I have won the rally last year so I have no excuse although it will be difficult against drivers like Robert Kubica and Jan Kopecký. He has very good experience here and is fast everywhere. It will be a very good fight.”

How difficult is it to switch from racing to rallying?
“They are so different. An LMP1 car or an LMP2 car are very close but this is day and night. I have experience of both and I am doing a lot of tests with Michelin in rallying so I am quite regular although maybe it can be a bit difficult with the pacenotes at the beginning. But I plan to push myself and be on the pace.”

As a driver what is the biggest challenge you face on the rally?
“It’s to avoid touching any concrete on the side of the road. It’s so narrow, with narrow bridges and it’s easy to touch a wheel, make a small mistake and have a very big effect. There are also some old roads that are very bumpy, it’s a very particular and difficult rally.”

FIVE FACTS
* It will take approximately 70 expert personnel to enable Eurosport Events to broadcast four stages live from Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse
* Eighteen different nationalities will be represented on this year’s rally with Molly Taylor travelling from Australia and Daniel Oliveira jetting in from Brazil to take part
* Corsica is big on mountains with 20 summits more than 2000 metres high. Monte Cinto is the highest at 2706 metres
* François Delecour triumphed on the rally in 1993 and will be among the favourites for victory this year. Twenty years earlier, ERC General Co-ordinator Jean-Pierre Nicolas took the win
* Wild boar and cheeses made from goat or sheep milk are popular among Corsicans, while Cap Corse is a favourite aperitif

EVENT ESSENTIALS
Starts: 20:30hrs, Thursday 16 May, Place de la Citadelle, Calvi
Finishes: 19:45hrs, Saturday 18 May, Place du Diamant, Ajaccio
Headquarters: Best Western Amirauté, Route de Sartène, St Joseph, 20090 Ajaccio
Service park: Calvi, Corte Airport and Ajaccio Airport
Facts and figures:
Entries received: 58
ERC appearances: None
Stages: 11
Stage distance: 248.08 kilometres (138.43 kilometres leg one, 109.65 kilometres leg two)
Liaison: 681.47 kilometres
Total: 929.55 kilometres
Surface: Asphalt

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