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The 2017 Tour de Corse proved to be an unforgettable event for all sorts of reasons. It was a hugely demanding rally for drivers and cars with plenty of punctures and other issues on the twisting mountain roads. But there were plenty of positive stories to emerge from this 10-stage, 316km long event, including the impressive debut in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 of Stéphane Sarrazin. And of course, there was a FABIA R5 victory to celebrate as well.

It was the ŠKODA Motorsport pairing of Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger who took the win in the WRC2 standings and finished an impressive seventh overall, to join teammates Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson at the top of the WRC2 standings. But they were not the only FABIA R5 team to impress.

 

Stéphane Sarrazin / Jacques-Julien Renucci, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Stéphane Sarrazin. Tour de Corse 2017

Stéphane Sarrazin made use of all his experience to steer his FABIA R5 to 9th in the overall standings. Sarrazin won the Tour de Corse outright back in 2014 when it was part of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), and also finished 4th here back in 2005 when he was a works driver at WRC level. He was also the French Tarmac Rally Champion in 2004.

His career has been just as impressive away from rallying, where has twice won the Le Mans Series, in 2007 and 2010, and also finished runner-up at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race on no fewer than four occasions (2007, ‘09, ’13 and ‘16).

This event was his first of the season and also his first in a FABIA R5 and indeed any ŠKODA car. Alongside co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci, Sarrazin was driving for his own Sarrazin Motorsport team, using a car originally run by ŠKODA Motorsport (chassis #25, in which Jan Kopecký won in the WRC2 category at the 2015 Rallye Deutschland).

Stéphane Sarrazin / Jacques-Julien Renucci, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Stéphane Sarrazin. Tour de Corse 2017

Despite having completed just 60 kilometres in testing prior to this event he made a fast start being 3rd fastest in the RC2 class (he was not entered into the WRC2 championship) on the opening two stages and 2nd fastest on the next two to sit in 2nd place in the RC2 class after the opening day. He maintained this speed on the second day before a puncture on the final Saturday’s stage saw him lose some time and slip back to 3rd in class.

Undeterred he was the second fastest RC2 car on the opening stage of the final day, just 1.7 seconds behind the stage winner. But whilst he kept up the pace, he couldn’t quite close the gap and had to settle for an impressive result of 3rd in class and 9th overall.

 

Jérémie Toedtli / Antoine Paque, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Jérémie Toedtli. Tour de Corse 2017

The next FABIA R5 to finish, which was also not entered into the WRC2 championship, was the Easy Rally team car of Jérémie Toedtli / Antoine Paque. This was Toedtli’s first ever WRC event and only his second drive in a FABIA R5.

He made a solid start to sit in 8th in the RC2 class after the opening day and some strong times towards the end of the rally helping him to move up to 5th in the RC2 class and 12th overall at the finish.

 

Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Printsport Oy. Tour de Corse 2017

After Toedtli, the next FABIA R5 to come home was the Printsport Oy car of Ole Christian Veiby. This was just his fifth start in the WRC2 and he maintained his record of scoring points and finishing every event inside the top 7 of the WRC2 standings.

Veiby and his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen had built up their pace after a quiet opening stage to sit 4th in the WRC2 standings after the opening two legs. But a puncture on the opening stage of the final day cost them more than two and a half minutes and saw them slip back to 5th in the WRC2 standings at the finish. It is still his second-best WRC2 result to date and young Norwegian was satisfied at the finish line.

 

Alberto Marchetti / Mario Scalmani, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Alberto Marchetti. Tour de Corse 2017

The other FABIA R5s to finish the Tour de Corse were ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, who endured a torrid opening day but recovered to 7th in the final WRC2 results, Alberto Marchetti / Mario Scalmani, who came home 13th in the RC2 class in a car prepared and owned by Roger Tuning (Italy), and Guy Fiori / Julien Tavera, who sat in 8th in the RC2 class after stage 8, but lost more than 50 minutes on the penultimate stage.

The Styllex – Lracing’s FABIA R5 of Martin Koči / Lukáš Kostka had sat 5th in the WRC2 standings after the opening day before a huge accident on stage 5 saw them retire.