Rnd 5 ERC Tour de Corse (Corsica) May 16-18 talk/results spoiler**
Next Rnd 5 Corsica May 16-18
With a route covering large chunks of the Mediterranean island, the rally is now a proper ‘Tour of Corsica’ again having been contained around Ajaccio during the latter years of its WRC tenure. Known as the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ due to its high frequency of turns.
After SS1: ERC ace Breen flies to Corsica top spot
Craig Breen has made a sensational start to round five of the FIA European Rally Championship with the fastest time on stage one, Le Fangu-Notre Dame de la Serra.
Driving a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, Breen completed the 27.53-kilometre test – held in damp conditions following overnight rain – in a time of 16m29.0s, which hands him an advantage of 11.5s over Formula One race winner Robert Kubica, who was second fastest in his Citroën DS3 RRC.
Kubica, who is competing in Corsica for the first time, said: “We had a small problem with the brakes, I had to do half the stage being really careful on the brakes. We have the soft Michelin tyre and it’s okay.”
French hero Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in another 207 with Jan Kopecký, the ERC title leader for ŠKODA Motorsport, next up. Stéphane Sarrazin, at the wheel of the same MINI John Cooper Works S2000 Dani Sordo used to win in Corsica last season, was fifth quickest with rallying legend François Delecour sixth, Julien Maurin seventh and Jean-Marc Manzagol the top Corsican in eighth, 50.4s down on Breen.
“I started a bit slow,” said Sarrazin. “It's a very tricky stage with a lot of water on the stage. I will go step by step. It's feeling good, I have some understeer but it's okay.”
Behind Jean-François Marchi, Germain Bonnefis was the quickest of the ERC Production Car Cup runners in 10th in his Renault Mégane RS, despite reporting that he lost time running on a hard-compound tyre.
Jérémi Ancian lost ground with a front-right puncture on his 207. He was 1m49.8s slower than Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Breen. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Bertelli, who is making his first appearance in this year’s ERC in a Ford Fiesta RRC, was 11th fastest with new co-driver Mitia Dotta, a double European champion in the past.
“It was a bit slippery, not the best way to start the first rally with the new car, but I just have to improve and then we'll see,” said Bertelli. “After driving a Group N, it's like you have to start again - not quite, but almost.”
A regroup at the Citadelle in Corte begins at 10:23hrs local time. Stage 2, Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani gets underway at 11:06hrs and will be shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
Craig Breen has made it two stage wins out of two on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, round five of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Irishman, a podium finisher on three occasions in this year’s ERC, holds an overall advantage of 19.5s heading to service in Corte after he went quickest of all through the Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani stage, which was shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
Breen, in a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, had feared that he would lose time on the dry 24.57-kilometre run, which he tackled with a combination of hard and soft compound tyres. However, he edged ERC title leader Jan Kopecký by 3.4s to extend his margin out front, despite the ŠKODA Motorsport driver being the only leading contender to have a full set of hard-compound Michelin tyres at his disposal.
“The car was moving a lot,” said Breen. “I'm on two softs and two hard. I was having to push as hard as I could to make up the time I thought I might lose with the tyres."
Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in a 207, 7.5s down on Breen with Robert Kubica’s fourth-fastest time 8.0s slower than the effort recorded by Breen after the Pole again complained about a brake glitch on his Citroën DS3 RRC. Stéphane Sarrazin was fifth quickest with Jérémi Ancian sixth fastest.
While Germain Bonnefis continues to set the pace in the ERC Production Car Cup aboard his Renault Mégane RS, team-mate Robert Consani suffered a troubled stage. He was late starting while he adjusted his car’s tyre pressures before a brake problem caused more delay. GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s Antonín Tlusťák also reported a brake issue while Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner said using soft and hard compound Yokohama tyres caused his car to understeer.
Meanwhile, in the battle for the ERC 2WD Championship, Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (Renault Clio R3) holds an advantage of 31.9s over Jean-Francois Succi. Molly Taylor is ahead of Ekaterina Stratieva in the ERC Ladies’ Trophy standings.
Following a 30-minute service halt in Corte, stage three, Barchetta-La Porta, goes live at 14:18hrs local time.
After SS3: Breen is too fast for me, says Bouffier
Bryan Bouffier fears he won’t be able to catch the flying Craig Breen in the battle for victory on round five of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Breen set his third fastest time in succession on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse’s Barchetta-La Porta stage, 6.4s quicker than Bouffier could manage in his similar Peugeot 207 Super 2000.
“Craig is pushing like hell, I am trying my best but it’s not easy against him,” said ace Frenchman Bouffier, who is making his second appearance in this year’s ERC and holds third overall, 31.7s down on Breen.
Breen’s stage best means his lead over second-placed Robert Kubica increases to 26.4s. Kubica was third quickest, 6.9s down on Breen. Jan Kopecký, the European championship leader, clocked the fourth best time in his ŠKODA Motorsport.
François Delecour reported a problem with his car’s exhaust and brakes. He was seventh quickest behind Stéphane Sarrazin and Julien Maurin. Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner has moved ahead of Germain Bonnefis (Renault Mégane) in the ERC Production Car Cup standings. Stage four, Taverna-Pont de Castirla goes live at 15:21hrs local time.
After SS4: Kubica leads in Corsica as Breen hits trouble
Robert Kubica leads Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse after Craig Breen dropped back following a brush with a bank that left his Peugeot 207 with a right-rear puncture.
Breen had been leading the Pole, a race winner in Formula One, by almost 30s but now trails the Citroën DS3 RRC driver by 56.7s with two stages of the opening leg of the FIA European Rally Championship counter remaining.
“It was my mistake, the corner nipped up on me more than I thought,” said Peugeot Rally Academy driver Breen, who slips from first to fifth. “I touched the bank, it's finished. I'm so gutted, so gutted."
Kubica, who scored his first stage win of the event after he out-paced Jan Kopecký by 0.8s, said: "It's still a long way to go and it's not easy," said the Pole. "We pushed a lot but I am happy."
Bryan Bouffier was third fastest on the 15.28-kilometre run and is now in second place, 7.5s behind Kubica in the overall standings. ŠKODA driver Kopecký is 1.3s further back with Stéphane Sarrazin fourth in his MINI.
François Delecour said he struggled to hear co-driver Dominique Savignoni’s pacenotes due to the broken exhaust on his Peugeot. He was fifth fastest in his Munaretto Peugeot.
Crews are now in Corte awaiting the 30-minute service halt to begin at 16:37hrs local time. Stage five, the repeat of Barchetta-La Porta, goes live at 18:01hrs.
Brian Bouffier has moved in front on round five of the FIA European Rally Championship after Robert Kubica’s Citroën DS3 RRC was hit by a mechanical fault on the fifth stage of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse.
The Formula One race winner was leading the event following Craig Breen’s delay on stage four but stopped approximately four kilometres from the finish of the day’s penultimate run with a fuel-related issue.
“I don’t know what it is but it looks like it was missing fuel so the car is not running,” Kubica said after eventually completing the 23.24-kilometre Barchetta-La Porta stage with a delay of more than six minutes. “We don’t have spare parts and we don’t know exactly what happened but it’s a fuel related problem. If we can fix the problem we can be back tomorrow. But there is no live TV for me tonight. But that’s less of the problem. That’s how it is.”
Kubica’s exit means Bouffier will take a lead of 3.8s over ŠKODA driver Jan Kopecký into Friday’s final stage, the 24.57-kilometre Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani test, which will be shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
Breen, meanwhile, will start the day’s final run in third place after he moved ahead of Stéphane Sarrazin on stage five. The Peugeot Rally Academy was fastest through the stage as he recovers from his earlier setback.
Lorenzo Bertelli and co-driver Mitia Dotta were unharmed when their Ford Fiesta RRC caught fire on stage five, which was halted to enable a fire unit to attend the scene.
After SS6: Kopecký snatches top spot from Bouffier
Jan Kopecký has shot into the lead of round five of the FIA European Rally Championship after winning Friday’s final stage of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse.
The ŠKODA Motorsport ace and ERC title leader was 7.4s quicker than arch-rival Bryan Bouffier through the Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani, which was shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
It means Kopecký holds an advantage of 3.6s over Bouffier starting Saturday’s five stages. "I have to say the weather is incredible over here,” said Kopecký. “There was a very long section on the dry then it started to be humid then changed damp, wet, dry, wet. It was changing a lot but we have changed the rear diff now and it's better."
Craig Breen was opted to run a full wet set-up in the mistaken belief it would be raining. He said: "We made a bit of a gamble with the tyres and if it rained in there then we'd have gone very well. But with the soft tyre and a full wet set-up the car was moving around too much."
Behind Bouffier, Stéphane Sarrazin was fourth fastest with Julien Maurin fifth and François Delecour, the 1993 Tour de Corse winner, sixth best in his Peugeot. "The biggest problem was to hear my co-driver because it was very noisy,” said Delecour. “We have broken two manifolds today so maybe it is a problem with the engine."
Subaru’s Andreas Aigner has maintained his advantage in the ERC Production Car Cup by completing day one with a lead of 4.5s over Renault driver Germain Bonnefis.
Robert Kubica didn’t start the stage after stopping with a fuel-related problem at the end of the previous run. Saturday’s first stage, Carbuccia-Tavera, goes live at 10:48hrs local time.
ERC Tour de Corse day one report: ERC counter set for thrilling showdown
There will be serious competition ahead when round five of the FIA European Rally Championship concludes on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse tomorrow.
At the completion of Friday’s opening leg, which featured four different leaders, ERC title pacesetter Jan Kopecký tops the legendary rally in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. But with Bryan Bouffier just 3.5s behind in his Peugeot 207 S2000, the battle for victory remains wide open on the demanding asphalt stages around Ajaccio in the south west of the island on Saturday.
Craig Breen had been extending his lead when he ran wide into a bank on stage four and picked up a puncture on his Peugeot Rally Academy entry. That elevated Formula One race winner Robert Kubica into first place only for the Pole’s Citroën DS3 RRC to suffer a mechanical issue on stage five. A decision on whether Kubica will restart on day two won’t be taken until a full investigation has taken place overnight.
Kubica’s misfortune let in Bouffier for the lead but the Frenchman was unable to fend off the charging Kopecký over Friday’s closing run, one of two stages shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica. Breen fought back into contention by going fastest on the penultimate test before he completed the last run just 0.1s slower than Kopecký. He will return to the overnight halt in Ajaccio 39.8s off the lead having won a total of four stages during the day.
“It’s been an exciting battle but it’s not over yet and there’s still a long way to go,” said Kopecký, who spent much of the day finalising an optimal set-up on his Fabia. Bouffier, meanwhile, said: “Jan was really flying. I tried to push but it was not enough. Still it will be a big battle tomorrow and I will really try.”
Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stéphane Sarrazin is in fourth position at the end of leg one in the same MINI John Cooper Works S2000 Dani Sordo used to win in Corsica last season. Rallying legend and former Tour de Corse winner François Delecour is fifth despite suffering two broken exhaust manifolds and a misted windscreen. Fellow Frenchman Julien Maurin is sixth with Jean-Marc Manzagol the leading Corsican driver in seventh, one place ahead of Jean-Mathieu Leandri. Andreas Aigner (Subaru Impreza) heads a close battle for the ERC Production Car Cup in ninth with Germain Bonnefis 4.5s behind in his Renault Mégane RS.
After SS7: Bouffier takes lead, Sarrazin up to third
It’s all change on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse following a dramatic start to the final day of round five of the FIA European Rally Championship.
French hero Bryan Bouffier now leads the event in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 with ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký slipping to third following a hesitant run through the 16.89 kilometres of Carbuccia-Tavera, which was held in damp conditions following earlier rain.
Elsewhere, Stéphane Sarrazin (MINI John Cooper Works S2000) has snatched third place from Craig Breen after the Irishman lost time clouting a bank with the rear of his Peugeot.
Kopecký had started day two with a lead of 3.6s but is now by 12.3s behind Bouffier with four stages remaining.
“The stage was very slippery and there is a lot of mud,” said Kopecký. “In the beginning I had huge understeer and I lost confidence at the start. My time is very bad and I need to start to push."
Bouffier led after Friday’s fifth stage and is naturally pleased to be back in front: “I'm happy with the first stage. Now we have to continue like this.”
Breen suggested his moment was the result of misunderstanding a pacenote from his co-driver Paul Nagle. He reached the stage finish with significant damage to the rear of his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 and 15.0s behind Sarrazin (pictured), who reported suffering from “big understeer”.
Jean-Marc Manzagol is still the leading Corsican driver in seventh but Jean-Mathieu Leandri is now 9.0s behind him after Manzagol reported handling issues on his 207.
In the ERC Production Cup, Andreas Aigner (Subaru Impreza) has grown his advantage over Germain Bonnefis (Renault Mégane) to 15.4s. Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi maintains his healthy lead in the ERC 2WD Championship in a Clio R3.
Stage eight, Sarrola-Liamone, will be shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica. It gets underway at 12:06hrs local time.
After SS8: Bouffier increases lead on thrilling Tour de Corse
Bryan Bouffier has extended his lead on round five of the FIA European Rally Championship with a stunning run live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
Driving a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, Bouffier was fastest by 4.3s through the Sarrola-Liamone test to grow his overall advantage to 19.5s with three stages left to run. “I like this stage a lot,” said Bouffier. “I was on the hard and soft tyres and the car was a moving a lot but I try to drive well.”
Jan Kopecký, the ERC title leader, continues to hold second place in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 after going third quickest, 7.2s adrift of Bouffier. “Bryan is pushing a lot and I try to do my best. I have the hard and soft tyres in a cross formation, Bryan has hard on the left and soft on the right and maybe this is working better but I have never tried it.”
Craig Breen, whose Peugeot 207 is sporting considerable rear-end damage, was second quickest and is now 3.4s behind MINI driver Stéphane Sarrazin in the overall classification. “I went with the hard and soft tyre for the first stage, which was wrong but it was my choice. I had to try to maximise my time in that stage but it’s hard because the tyres were overheating a lot and I had to be careful.”
Germain Bonnefis continues to lose time in his pursuit of ERC Production Car Cup glory. The soft-compound Michelin tyres he’s fitted to his Renault Mégane RS were far from ideal for the mainly dry stage. As a result he’s now 32.6s behind Andreas Aigner’s Subaru Impreza.
Stage nine, Marato-Acqua Doria, goes live at 13:37hrs local time.
After SS9: Breen up to third, Kopecký closes on top spot
Craig Breen has overtaken Stéphane Sarrazin for third place on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, round five of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Irishman, in a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, was 4.0s quicker than his First Motorsport MINI-driving rival through the 22.47-kilometre Marato-Acqua Doria stage and is now 0.6s ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours race with two stages remaining.
Out front, ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký has narrowed Bryan Bouffier’s lead to 10.7s after he went 8.8s quicker than the Frenchman.
Subaru driver Andreas Aigner’s lead in the ERC Production Car Cup ahead of Germain Bonnefis (Renault) stands at 54.3s.
Crews are now heading to service in Ajaccio. Stage 10, Carbuccia-Tavera, goes live at 16:40hrs local time.
After SS10: Sarrazin into third as Leandri hits trouble
France’s Bryan Bouffier will defend a lead of 13.0s over the final 26.70 kilometres of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, round five of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Bouffier, in a Delta Rally Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was 2.3s quicker than ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký through stage 10, the 16.89-kilometre Carbuccia-Tavera run, to extend his advantage over his Czech rival.
In the battle for the final podium spot, Stéphane Sarrazin is back into third place after he went 8.5s quicker than Craig Breen. "The car was moving a lot and the confidence wasn't on top form,” said Breen. “I was struggling a bit."
Meanwhile, leading Corsican driver Jean-Mathieu Leandri (pictured) has dropped down to ninth after he completed the stage with a front-right puncture on his Peugeot.
The final stage, the repeat of Sarrola-Liamone, gets underway at 18:06hrs local time and will be shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
ERC Tour de Corse day two report: Bouffier wins ERC thriller
Bryan Bouffier has ended Jan Kopecký’s run of success in the FIA European Rally Championship with his maiden victory on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, which reached a thrilling climax live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica earlier today.
Co-driven by fellow Frenchman Xavier Panseri in a Michelin-shod Peugeot 207 Super 2000, Bouffier started the final day 3.6s behind Kopecký but powered ahead when the ŠKODA Motorsport pilot struggled in the slippery conditions on Saturday’s opening test. Bouffier pulled further clear with a second stage win only for Kopecký to hit back with the fastest time on stage nine and cut Bouffier’s lead to 10.7s heading to service in Ajaccio with two stages remaining.
There, Kopecký opted to fit soft-compound Michelin tyres to his Fabia S2000 for the final brace of stages in the mistaken belief that it would rain. Instead the hard compound rubber on Bouffier’s 207 gave the Delta Rally driver the performance he craved as Kopecký lost time when his car dropped onto three cylinders on the final stage.
“To join the illustrious list of French drivers who have won Monte-Carlo and Corsica makes me very happy,” said Bouffier, now a three-time ERC winner. “But I am also happy to win this event on French territory. Against some very strong opposition this is a significant achievement.”
Kopecký, who has increased his ERC title lead to 37 points over Craig Breen, said: “I had no confidence on the first stage this morning so I reduced my speed. We took some time out of Bryan on stage nine but we took soft tyres for the final stages thinking it would rain. Finally we had some problems with the engine and finished second, which is still not bad for the championship.”
Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stéphane Sarrazin marked his return to rallying for the first time since last September by bringing his MINI John Cooper Works home in a strong third following a close battle with Irishman Craig Breen. The Peugeot Rally Academy runner was third starting day two only to fall back to fourth when he slid into a bridge parapet on stage seven. Although the impact left his car with significant damage, it didn’t make a big difference to his speed and he was back in third at the end of stage nine. But Sarrazin proved too strong and while Breen settled for fourth, his performance earned him the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.
Using farmland asphalt roads around the historic market town, the narrow stages are lined by drainage ditches, errant telegraph poles and popularised by tight junctions that lie in wait to catch out the unwary. Taking cuts is a risk due to hidden obstacles.