From Chris Biewer [ 22/10/2001 ].
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The Tour de Corse has not been one of Ford’s best events this year. Carlos Sainz retired already in the 2nd stage when he got a stone jammed under the sumpgard and lost all engine oil, a freak incident you can neither blame the car nor the driver for! This was an early loss of the only main drivers WRChampionship contender to score points in the previous tarmac round in San Remo.
Despite his horrifying accident last year, Colin Mc Rae was indeed really looking forward to the Tour de Corse: “I quite like the rally and I quite like the roads here!”, he said before the start. Colin’s enthusiasm didn’t last long, already during leg1 the Pirelli tyres let him down badly, interestingly this time the Pirellis seemed to work alright for Subaru. While Colin Mc Rae started into leg2 already 2 ½ minutes off the pace in 12th position, in SS8 he was the 1st driver without a French car and French tyres to manage a fastest stage time on this event. But when halfway through the penultimate stage of the day his power steering let go this was extremely bad news. Corsica, the place with 10000 curves and virtually no straights, is the last place on earth you want your power steering quit on you! But worse even, next was a 30km stage with no service beforehand! Colin finished leg2 again down in 12th but now a full 8m39.3s off the pace! Colin admitted: “We have nothing left to be motivated for!” At least the last day was troublefree and Colin eventually moved up to 11th when Neil Wearden retired. Colin: “We persevered and got to the end and that’s about all I can say, Corsica is a very difficult rally.”
As well Francois Delecour in the 3rd Focus RS WRC can remember having had better days in Corsica. His rally got off to a very promising start and before the last stage of leg2 he was 4th overall and convincingly the fastest man on Pirellis and with a non-French car. But in the last 30km stage of the leg his brakes let go, he dropped over a minute and one place. However his brake problems could not be fixed for and during the final leg on the hilly island. But let’s Francois tell himself: “The brake pedal went to the floor 10km after the start of the first stage and we had to drive the rest of the test and the next one with no brakes. The team then tried to make repairs at service and we bled the brakes before the start of the next stage and although a lot of air came out we didn’t have time to finish the job completely. They were fine for the first 10km but then the pedal went to the floor again. We locked the centre differential before the final test but it made no difference.” Than in a typical Francois Delecour comment he quickly added: “It was certainly interesting driving in the wet with no brakes!”
However from a WRChampionship point of view things still look pretty positive for Ford. Everything seemed to happen behind Ford in Championship terms. Mitsubishi fell behind Peugeot while Ford is still leading the makes standings by 7 points with Colin Mc Rae leading the drivers points table and Carlos Sainz is only 7 points down. Seems like quite a good bet that one of the Fords may carry the number “1” on its doors for 2002? Or as Colin sums it up: “This was a weekend to forget but we’re still joint leaders in the championship and in the best position we’ve ever been going into the final two rounds!”
P.S.: Hope this keeps you up to date for now! The reason Ben’s name is missing form the top of the page is: Ben is currently down in Corsica (to jinx everybody!) and will surely make up for this with a bag full of first hand stories and experiences!