This weekend will see the 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) taking place on the French island of Corsica. This famous event takes place over 10 long stages and a total competitive distance of 391km and will see drivers competing all over this beautiful and mountainous Mediterranean island.
For ŠKODA, the Tour de Corse offers an opportunity to extend a remarkable run in the WRC2 championship, which has seen a ŠKODA FABIA R5 finish first in each of the last seven events. ŠKODA also has a pretty decent record at this event too, with Esapekka Lappi finishing second in the WRC2 standings last year and Jan Kopecký in a FABIA S2000 coming second overall in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when it was an Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and a FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) event rather than a WRC one. It will be Jan Kopecký, alongside his regular co-driver Pavel Dresler, who is leading the line for the ŠKODA Motorsport team this time out too.
And there will also be a number of customer teams looking to compete in their FABIA R5 cars too. Julien Maurin dominated at the Rallye National de Corte – Centre Corse in preparation for this event, winning by a margin of 52 seconds. He has shown fine form in his 2C Compétition prepared FABIA R5 in the French Gravel Rally Championship, currently leads the standings with one event remaining and after winning the WRC2 category in last year’s Tour de Corse, his confidence will be high for another positive result this weekend.
Maurin will be joined by co-driver Gilles Thimonier for the Tour de Corse as his regular co-driver Olivier Ural has to miss the event for personal reasons.
Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula, who will be competing in a FABIA R5 for Team Oreca, have already enjoyed a remarkable season in the WRC2 championship. They already have three victories under their belts at the Rally Guanajuato México, the Rally Italia Sardegna, and the Rally Poland, and sit second in the championship standings, just two points behind leader Elfyn Evans.
However, they are not entered into the WRC2 category for this event, but rather will be looking to put a disappointing result at the Rallye Deutschland behind them and prepare for the next event, the Rally Catalunya – Costa Daurada.
Another French team competing here in a FABIA R5 are Sylvain Michel and his co-driver Jérôme Degout. They are not entered in the WRC2 competition either and will be competing for the Equipe de France FFSA team in a FABIA R5 also prepared by 2C Compétition.
Michel has recently been crowned champion of the French Tarmac Rally Championship and his expertise on the surface and the conditions in French rallying should stand him in good stead here.
The Belgian pairing of Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet were listed on the official entry list for this event, but after the driver underwent a small surgical procedure recently, they have opted to withdraw and focus on the next round in Spain.
The final FABIA R5 on the official entry list was due to be driven by veteran French driver François Delecour and Dominique Savignoni for Team FJ. However, Delecour, who won the Tour de Corse back in 1993, has been unable to secure the necessary funding and so has been forced to withdraw.
We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of all the FABIA R5 drivers at what promises to be a captivating Tour de Corse.