Corsica - final report

From Chris Biewer [ 22/10/2001 ].
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Today’s final leg of the Tour de Corse was yet another exciting day for World Rallying. While the French cars kept running reliably at the front of the field, there was at least one French driver who as ever appears magnetic to bad luck! Francois Delecour already lost a convincing 4th position towards the end of leg2 thanks to brake problems. In todays 1st stage his brake problems were back and he dropped a minute to fall behind Markko Märtin into 6th position. Meanwhile Richard Burns was a man on a mission, hoping for a serious points finish where everybody ahead of him in the WRC standings is left with empty pockets. He was clearly the fastest Pirelli and non-French car runner, posting the 4th fastest time.

Impressive as well was Harri Rovanperä, 5th, seemingly slowly getting the hang of tarmac rallying and Freddy Loix in 6th, one of the best single stage performances for the new Lancer WRC so far.

In SS14, the 2nd of the day, Gilles Panizzi cooked his brakes while Jesus Puras was a full 16s faster than anybody else. Before the stage his lead was only 17.7s but Jesus now convinced Gilles for good not to have any silly ideas! Didier Auriol already backed off and with Petter Solberg in 4th still 1m50.7s down on Auriol, the top 3 were all but confirmed by now. Meanwhile our friend Francois Delecour had more of his now traditional brake problems and dropped down to 7th. As a result of this the Subaru trio of Solberg, Märtin and Burns were now in this order 4th, 5th and 6th and some talk about team orders at Subaru started as letting Richard Burns move into 4th would be a nice help for his drivers WRChampionship hopes.

SS15, the penultimate stage of the rally, confirmed the top 3 positions even more. After the passage of the 3 French cars and Petter Solberg’s Subaru it started raining again and everybody else lost over a minute to the first 4 crews over the stage. With the exception of Francois Delecour that is, in service his problems could be fixed and he was back with a 5th fastest time over SS15, closing the gap to Richard Burns ahead of him by over 30s.

SS16, the final, saw the top 3 crews clearly easing off. Richard Burns actually managed the fastest stage time and moved past team mate Markko Märtin into 5th overall for 2 WRC points. Petter Solberg was still ahead of Richard, but this was corrected by the Subaru team when Petter booked in 2min early into parc fermé. This dropped Petter Solberg just behind his team mate and Richard gained the 4th position overall a bonus point, such now adding 3 points to his WRC account!

This last stage was a big set back for - you guessed it - Francois Delecour whose problems returned again. Another near-on 4min time loss had him dropping from 7th to 10th now. As a result of this Harri Rovanperä moved up to 7th to his first top ten finish ever in a WRCar on asphalt while as well the Hyundais made it past the Fords. The Hyundais have indeed reason for a surprise party earning 3 points here with 8th and 9th position. However being 8min off the pace, it doesn’t seem like they had really improved on their tarmac performance.

Just outside the top ten are 2 more crews we cannot leave out. Like his team mates Colin Mc Rae had a troubled event and on this occasion couldn’t make it past 11th in the end. Freddy Loix exactly repeats the new Mitsubishi Lancer WRC’s first performance. Like in San Remo he finishes 12th overall.

Final results:

1. J.Puras/M.Marti Citroen 3:58.35,5
2. G.Panizzi/H.Panizzi Peugeot + 0.17,5
3. D.Auriol/D.Giraudet Peugeot + 1.11,9
4. R.Burns/R.Reid Subaru + 4.53,1
5. P.Solberg/P.Mills Subaru + 4.53,9
6. M.Märtin/M.Park Subaru + 5.21,6
7. H.Rovanperä/R.Pietiläinen Peugeot + 7.26,9
8. P.Liatti/C.Cassina Hyundai + 8.09,8
9. A.McRae/D.Senior Hyundai + 8.52,7
10. F.Delecour/D.Grataloup Ford + 10.06,1
11. C.McRae/N.Grist Ford + 10.21,3
12. F.Loix/S.Smeets Mitsubishi + 13.14,7
13. S.Loeb/D.Elena Citroen + 17.40,9
14. A.Dallavilla/G.Bernacchini + 17.49,4
15. G.Basso/F.Guglielmini + 22.48,7