The Final Rnd 11 - Tour de Corse France - Asphalt 06-08 Nov 2014
Known affectionately as the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ due to its high frequency of twists and turns, the route runs over the picturesque island’s narrow and undulating mountain passes and remains the stuff of legend. A winter date and a new start location in Porto-Vecchio to the southeast means new stages and a fresh challenge for crews contesting the ERC season-closer. Following a regroup in Port de Plaisance Propriano at the end of day one, the rally switches to Ajaccio for the final leg with a return to the famous harbourside service park and several classic stages on the agenda.
Jetlag no barrier for flying Sarrazin in Erc Corsica Qualifying as Kajetanowicz sets the pace
Stéphane Sarrazin has flown on the Qualifying Stage for round 11 of the FIA European Rally Championship, Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse - but it was Kajetan Kajetanowicz who set the pace after the results were adjusted.
Driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, Sarrazin took 1m28.799s to complete the 2.64-kilometre test, which was held in damp conditions following light rain and placed a focus on tyre strategy. Drivers could choose softer compound Michelin or Pirelli tyres, which were optimal for the conditions, or select harder covers in order to save their less durable soft tyre allocation for the 11-stage rally.
Despite only landing in Corsica on Monday after contesting the Shanghai Six Hours FIA World Endurance Championship event in China at the weekend, Sarrazin didn't let jetlag affect his performance as he just lost out to Qualifying Stage winner Kajetanowicz by 0.714s having initially being credited with the quickest run.
“I still have little bit of jetlag but every day is getting better and I am used to it,” said Sarrazin, who finished third in Corsica last season. “I am very happy to be here in Corsica and enjoying driving this car.”
Fiesta R5 driver Kajetanowicz, who can still finish runner-up for the LOTOS Rally Team in the final ERC standings, said: “I had a good run, it started raining but I’m happy. It’s a completely different stage than the rally stages but good for the start. I’m happy with the car and tyres.”
Julien Maurin completed the all-Fiesta top-three in his R5 model. He was 0.2s slower than Sarrazin. “We have a good feeling with the tyre and the pace but now is the beginning. I want to start in the top five tomorrow and now it’s possible.”
Kevin Abbring was fourth quickest in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16 with ERC champion elect Esapekka Lappi fifth for ŠKODA Motorsport. Bryan Bouffier (Fiesta RRC) completed the top six with Romain Dumas seventh fastest in his RGT-specification Porsche 997.
“The road was a little bit dirty already so we lost a bit of time in some places,” said Dumas, who like Sarrazin, was also racing in China last weekend. “When the road is a bit humid and muddy I lose some time in with the two-wheel drive.”
Kresta Racing’s Jaromír Tarabus was eighth quickest with Craig Breen ninth after reporting a “little moment” through the first corner in his 208T16.
Robert Consani spun his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 and set the slowest time as a result. “I make a spin on the last corner before the finish but it’s okay. It’s only the Qualifying Stage. I choose the hard tyre to save the soft tyres for the rally.”
His Delta Rally team-mate, Bruno Magalhães, also said his hard compound Pirelli covers weren’t ideal for the damp conditions but the Portuguese was pleased with this tyre strategy after going 10th quickest.
SS1: The best is yet to come, says Erc stage winner Sarrazin
Stéphane Sarrazin has gone fastest on the opening stage of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse – and said afterwards that he could have gone even quicker.
The Le Mans 24 Hours racer, making only his second rally start in 2014, took 8m12.2s to charge through the 14.93-kilometre Palavese-Le Barrage de l’Ospedale test in his Ford Fiesta RRC, which was 0.8s faster than Bryan Bouffier’s time in his similar Fiesta.
“It was a good stage but I was scared to push 100 per cent but it was a really good time – I didn’t know I was P1. I will go step by step but it’s easy to make a mistake. I’ve only done one rally this season and I have to improve myself.”
Bouffier said: “I tried to find a good rhythm. The times were quite close and it’s a good start and good to fight on this stage with Steph because it’s like a race circuit. It’s great to be back here, an amazing place with a nice landscape.”
Kevin Abbring, who was third fastest in a Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16, said: “It’s special, it’s quite okay I think although it seems the grip level is not so high. The feeling is not there yet but it was quite a clean start and we will see what will happen with the tyres when it gets more twisty.”
Romain Dumas was fourth quickest in his Porsche 997 despite reporting an intercom problem nearing the stage finish. “It was okay, it was nice, good time but in the end I lost a bit the intercom and it was difficult to hear Denis [Giraudet] for the last four kilometres but I cannot go quicker.”
Julien Maurin was fifth fastest with Craig Breen sixth and Esapekka Lappi, who cannot be caught in the race for the ERC title, seventh, 7.5s off the pace. “It was a shock I would say. The first five kilometres I was totally lost. I have never driven that kind of stage, so wide and fast with such good grip.”
It was a frustrating start for Qualifying Stage winner Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who was slowed with a driveshaft issue on his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. Robert Consani also lost time with a front-left puncture halfway through the stage.
Stéphane Sarrazin continues to lead the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship season-closer despite reporting that he slowed to avoid a cow that had wandered onto the second stage of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse.
Sarrazin shared the stage honours with Bryan Bouffier after both French Ford Fiesta RRC drivers took 15m35.7s to complete the 26.11-kilometre Sorbollano-Acoravo test. It means Sarrazin’s lead over last year’s Tour de Corse winner remains at 0.8s.
“We did a good stage but I lost a bit when a cow crossed the road and I had to brake in a straight line,” said Sarrazin. “It was five kilometres before the end and this white cow came on the road. I lost two or three seconds.”
Bouffier said: “It was okay but very tricky with lots of slippery places and it’s difficult because when it’s humid it’s very quickly slippery so not easy.”
Craig Breen has snatched third overall from Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Kevin Abbring with the third fastest time in his 208T16, 6.8s down on Sarrazin and Bouffier. “I lost way too much time, really bad,” said Breen. “I was hoping it would be a completely dry stage but it wasn’t.”
Dutchman Abbring, who was 11.2s off the pace in fifth, said: “It was really difficult. The car was moving a lot on the second half of the stage. I am discovering how much you can push to keep tyres nice towards the end.”
Behind the impressive Eric Camilli, who was fourth quickest, Esapekka Lappi was sixth fastest with Robert Consani fighting back from his stage-one puncture to set the seventh quickest time. Romain Dumas was eighth fastest in his Porsche 997, while top Corsican Jean-Mathieu Leandri reported brake and water pressure problems on his Fiesta R5, which he’s using in competition for the first time.
Julien Maurin picked up a front-right puncture 10 kilometres from the end of the stage after hitting a ledge. “With this puncture I lose everything,” said the Frenchman, who started the stage in fifth overall.
Bryan Bouffier is the new leader of the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer in his Ford Fiesta RRC.
Last year’s Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse winner was 3.2s faster than erstwhile pacesetter Stéphane Sarrazin through the 26.66 kilometres of Sartene-Orone and now leads the iconic asphalt event by 2.4s heading to the regroup and service in Porto-Vecchio. “The battle has already started,” said Bouffier. “I think I struggle at the end of the stage, I was not very good in these wet, humid conditions.”
Sarrazin, who was fastest on stage one, joint quickest with Bouffier on stage two and third fastest on stage three, said: “No moments, I was a bit off, I was pushing sometimes, pushing less sometimes. I was a bit too safe in some area. I have to push myself.”
Julien Maurin was second fastest, 0.7s down on Bouffier, as he continues to fight back from his puncture on the previous test. “After the puncture I tried to find the feeling but the set-up is not so good with the new tyre so I didn’t push.”
Robert Consani was a strong fourth fastest despite complaining of a minor steering glitch. Esapekka Lappi was fifth quickest for ŠKODA Motorsport with Kevin Abbring sixth following a spin in a village. “We had a spin in one of the villages and I didn’t recognise it in the recce,” said the Dutchman. “There was gravel on the inside and there was no way I could control the car. It’s not so easy.”
Romain Dumas has cured the intercom problem that struck on stage one by swapping crash helmets with co-driver Denis Giraudet. The Porsche 997 ace was ninth quickest with Jaromír Tarabus 10th.
It was a frustrating third stage for Craig Breen, which the Irishman completed more than one minute off the pace in his Peugeot 208T16. “Unfortunately something has broken in the diff I think, the revs keep shooting up. It’s not good but that’s life and I have to drive slowly. Losing one minute on this rally makes a big difference.”
Jean-Mathieu Leandri continues to struggle with a brake issue, while Eric Camilli reported a significant vibration in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 after going seventh quickest. Swiss Jonathan Hirschi lost time with a big slide.
Afternoon update: Sarrazin heads dramatic battle for Erc Corsica glory
The 2014 FIA European Rally Championship continues to thrill with French Ford Fiesta RRC drivers Stéphane Sarrazin and Bryan Bouffier locked in a close battle for Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse glory.
After six stages, Sarrazin holds the advantage by a mere 1.7s despite Bouffier dropping some 17 seconds with a puncture on stage four. Sarrazin was fastest on the fourth test with Bouffier going fastest on stages five and six.
“It was a good battle with Bouffier today,” said Sarrazin. “I went with the soft tyre on the second loop and I think it was a mistake. We continue to enjoy and make a big push.”
Bouffier said: “I am happy to be here. On the stage before we did a good stage. It was a very good day for us and I’m looking for more tomorrow. I am doing the best race as possible. Tomorrow will be really tough and we have to stay concentrated."
Kevin Abbring is the leading Peugeot 208T16 contender in third with the Dutchman capitalising on Esapekka Lappi’s crash close to the start of stage six. Eric Camilli is an impressive fourth with Julien Maurin fifth after suffering his second deflated tyre of the day on stage six. Romain Dumas is sixth with Bruno Magalhães up to seventh. Jaromír Tarabus is eighth, local hero Jean-Mathieu Leandri ninth and fellow Corsican Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (Renault Clio R3) 10th and top ERC 2WD contender.
In the ERC Production Car Cup, Keith Cronin leads the category in his Subaru WRX STI with Peugeot 208 R2 driver Andrea Crugnola out in front in ERC Junior.
Craig Breen’s tough Tour de Corse continued when transmission failure forced him to retire his Peugeot 208T16 following stage four, while Robert Consani crashed out of the top 10 on stage six.
Crews are now heading to the harbour town of Propriano for a regroup before they continue their journey to Ajaccio for the overnight halt.
Erc Tour de Corse day one report: Sarrazin tops thrilling battle for Corsica glory
Flying Frenchmen Stéphane Sarrazin and Bryan Bouffier will embark on the final leg of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse just 1.7 seconds apart following a thrilling start to the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer.
Sarrazin set the pace on Friday’s opening leg and shared the fastest time with Bouffier – in an identical Ford Fiesta RRC – on stage two despite slowing to avoid a cow that had wandered in to the road. Bouffier went quickest outright on stage three to snatch the lead but his advantage out front was only fleeting after a damaged tyre cost him some 17s on stage four and handed the initiative back to Sarrazin. Bouffier then went on full attack mode to make up the lost time and fought back into contention with fastest times on stages five and six. But it’s Sarrazin he will head to the overnight halt in Ajaccio leading the rally.
“It was a good battle with Bouffier today,” said Sarrazin. “I went with the soft tyre on the second loop and I think it was a mistake. We continue to enjoy and make a big push.”
Bouffier, last year’s Corsica winner, said: “I am happy to be here after a very good time on stage five. I am doing the best race as possible. Tomorrow will be really tough and we have to stay concentrated.”
Kevin Abbring is the leading Peugeot 208T16 contender in third after Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Craig Breen retired his similar car with transmission failure after four stages. Esapekka Lappi, who cannot be caught in the ERC title race, was up to third but crashed out on Friday’s final test. That means young Frenchman Eric Camilli is in an impressive fourth, despite nursing an exhaust issue for much of the leg, with Julien Maurin and Romain Dumas completing the top six.
Maurin, who was running first on the road, lost time with a brace of punctures on his Fiesta R5, while Dumas conceded his rear-wheel-drive Porsche 997 RGT proved difficult to handle on the endless tight turns and hairpin bends compared to the cars of his rivals. Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães is seventh for the Delta Rally team with Jaromír Tarabus eighth, local hero Jean-Mathieu Leandri ninth and fellow Corsican Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi completing the top 10 and leading ERC 2WD in his Renault Clio R3.
ERC Production Car Cup pacesetter Keith Cronin is 11th on his debut in JRM’s Subaru WRX STI. Title chasers Martin Hudec and Vitaliy Pushkar are second and third in class respectively.
SS7: Sarrazin puts pressure on Bouffier with stage best
Stéphane Sarrazin has started day two of Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse in style with his fourth stage win of the event – and said afterwards that his performance has increased the pressure on rival Bryan Bouffier.
Sarrazin began the 28.26-kilometre Acqua Doria-Bellevalle test 1.7s ahead of his fellow Ford Fiesta RRC driver but now leads the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer by 4.9s after he went 3.2s faster than Bouffier.
“It’s really good and I’m really happy,” said Sarrazin. “I push and did my best and I’m really pleased about my time. I could see the co-driver of Bryan came to check the time so I can see he’s under pressure. Like Bryan I am on the harder Michelin tyre, like I should have used yesterday afternoon.”
Julien Maurin was third fastest with Eric Camilli fourth, Kevin Abbring fifth and Jean-Mathieu Leandri sixth. But there was more frustration for Craig Breen and Kajetan Kajetanowicz after both drivers picked up punctures.
“It was a rear-left puncture five kilometres into the stage,” said Breen. “It was a left corner I thought I could cut but apparently not. It’s a pity and we had a problem with the wheel gun so it took longer to change than it should have done.”
Kajetanowicz, who like Breen is restarting on leg two having retired on Friday, said: “We had a puncture four kilometres after the start and I don’t know where because we didn’t touch nothing. It’s difficult because we had only one spare and I think we had another slow puncture.”
ERC Junior pacesetter Andrea Crugnola reported a possible front-right wheel problem, which he was planning to check before the next stage. ERC Production Car Cup leader Vitaliy Pushkar said he lost 10 seconds after making a mistake. He is now 37s behind championship rival Martin Hudec.
SS8: Big push keeps Sarrazin out in front in Corsica
Ace Frenchman Stéphane Sarrazin has extended his lead on the final round of the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship to 12.4s after he outgunned rival Bryan Bouffier by 7.5s on the first run through the Bastelica-Tavera test.
Held in damp conditions, the 17.27-kilometre stage proved a tough test for the drivers but Sarrazin emerged untroubled with the fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RRC.
“Honestly I was pushing 100 per cent and a bit too much in the damp,” said Sarrazin. “We are much faster than [Bouffier] so it’s really good. I was complaining a bit about myself but we did a good job.”
Bouffier said: “It was a very slippery road for sure, it was very tricky. I made my car a bit harder before the stage and maybe I should have kept the car as the stage before.”
Julien Maurin was third fastest with Kevin Abbring fourth and Craig Breen fifth despite the Irishman coming to a standstill when several pigs wandered into the road. Eric Camilli was sixth fastest to cement his grip on fourth overall behind Abbring.
While Stéphane Sarrazin continues to lead Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse following his third stage win on day two of the FIA European Rally Championship counter, there was drama in the ERC Production Car Cup.
Keith Cronin had been leading the category prior to the Sarrola-Liamone test but is reported to have retired his JRM Subaru WRX STI, while Martin Hudec (pictured), who was locked in battle with Vitaliy Pushkar for the title, has crashed his Orsák Rallysport-run Mitsubishi Lancer. With Hudec out, Pushkar is ERC Production Car Cup champion for 2014.
Out front, Sarrazin’s advantage ahead of Bryan Bouffier stands at 13.6s heading to the regroup and service in Ajaccio.
Kevin Abbring continues to occupy third overall after going sixth quickest in his Peugeot 208T16. The Dutchman is 29.8s ahead of fourth-placed Eric Camilli with Julien Maurin fifth and Romain Dumas sixth.
Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi remains in control of the ERC 2WD category with Andrea Crugnola still out in front in ERC Junior.
Two stages of the event remain before the finish in Ajaccio this evening. Next up is the repeat of the Bastelica-Tavera test at 14:39hrs local time.
SS10: Will a spin for Bouffier mean a Corsica Erc win for Sarrazin?
Bryan Bouffier’s hopes of winning Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse for a second time have suffered a setback after the French ace spun on the penultimate stage of the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.
Bouffier’s moment means he is now 24.4s behind leader Stéphane Sarrazin starting the final stage in his Ford Fiesta RRC. “I went out of the road, I spun and hit into a ditch but I was lucky because the edge of the ditch was not so comfortable,” said Bouffier. “The car was much better with the feeling so I tried to push but maybe too much and I had to go back.”
There were no such problems for Sarrazin, who has now gone fastest on seven occasions in his Fiesta RRC. “It was a really good stage but I was a bit too much wide in one corner. The car was good.”
Craig Breen was second fastest through the 17.27-kilometre Bastelica-Tavera test, 6.8s down on Sarrazin in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16. Team-mate Kevin Abbring was third quickest, Bouffier fourth and Eric Camilli fifth despite reporting a loud noise in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000.
Jaromír Tarabus reported a problem with the gearbox on his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000: “We have problems with the gearbox not functioning and I don’t know what gear we are in and we made one half spin,” said the Czech.
There was disappointment for Julien Maurin when the Frenchman retired on the road section heading to the stage. His exit has promoted Romain Dumas into fifth overall with Bruno Magalhães now up to sixth.
The rally’s final stage, the repeat of the 26.68-kilometre Sarrola-Liamone test, gets underway at 15:57hrs local time.
Stéphane Sarrazin has won Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse to bring the curtain down on an action-packed FIA European Rally Championship season.
Bryan Bouffier, who was quickest through the closing stage by 5.5s, finished second with Kevin Abbring completing the podium for the Peugeot Rally Academy.
“It’s just amazing, like a dream,” said Sarrazin, who was competing in a First Motorsport Ford Fiesta RRC “I did two rallies this season, the ones I like most and to win them both is just so amazing. I had a good battle all weekend with Bryan. We did a great job with Jacques-Julien [Renucci, my co-driver] and the team, the car was good so we push and enjoy. I didn’t take big risks when it was tricky. To win Corsica is more than a dream.”
Vitaliy Pushkar has won the FIA ERC Production Cup title subject to final confirmation and said afterwards that he was “very happy”.
Starting the event with a 17-point advantage over Martin Hudec, the Ukrainian’s championship success was assured when Hudec crashed out.
“I am happy, no problem, good car, good team and thank you very much my fans – I am very happy,” said Pushkar, who was co-driven by Ivan Mishyn.
Bessenyey ends tough season as ERC 2WD champion
Zoltán Bessenyey has claimed his second consecutive FIA ERC 2WD Championship title* with a controlled on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse.
The Hungarian started the event with a healthy advantage over Stéphane Lefebvre. But with Lefebvre coming home fifth in class, Bessenyey remains on top of the standings in the Eurosol Racing Team Hungary Honda Civic Type R he shares with co-driver and partner Yulianna Nyírfás.
Local hero Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi dominated the ERC 2WD category in Corsica by going fastest in class on all but one stage in his Renault Clio. Laurent Reuche finished second in Renault’s all-new Clio R3T with Olivier Capanaccia completing the podium.
*Subject to final confirmation
Erc Tour de Corse day two report: Sarrazin the winner, Lappi the champion
There were celebrations aplenty on the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship finale in Corsica when Stéphane Sarrazin became the ninth winner from 11 rounds following a thrilling battle for top spot with fellow French Ford Fiesta RRC driver Bryan Bouffier.
While a crash on Friday’s final test meant Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm were unable to tackle Saturday’s closing five stages, the ŠKODA Motorsport crew will head home to their native Finland as the new European champions* having scored sufficient points earlier in their hugely impressive campaign, which included three wins and 25 fastest stage times.
Vitaliy Pushkar and Ivan Mishyn secured the ERC Production Car Cup with Zoltán Bessenyey and Yulianna Nyírfás taking ERC 2WD honours for a second year in succession. Stéphane Lefebvre just did enough to beat Andrea Crugnola to the inaugural ERC Junior title, while Lappi was crowned ERC Asphalt Master.
Sarrazin, who was racing in the Six Hours of Shanghai World Endurance Championship event last weekend, started Saturday’s final leg 1.7s in front of Bouffier but wasted little time in pulling clear of his compatriot with a hat-trick of stage bests. His performance on the damp sections of stage eight was particularly noteworthy after he went 7.5s quicker than Bouffier. And Sarrazin’s victory was all but assured when Bouffier spun into a ditch on the penultimate test.
“It’s just amazing, like a dream,” said Sarrazin, who was competing in a First Motorsport Ford Fiesta RRC alongside Corsican co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci. “I did two rallies this season, the ones I like most and to win them both is just so amazing. I had a good battle all weekend with Bryan. We did a great job with Jacques-Julien and the team, the car was good so we push and enjoy. I didn’t take big risks when it was tricky. To win Corsica is more than a dream.”
“The speed on the first two stages this morning was really good,” said Breen, who has been quickest on three out of four stages on leg two of Rallye International du Valais this morning. “The third stage was quite dry and maybe the tyres were too soft. This one was okay but we have to keep pushing. We are a very fast package and we are capable of doing this. We have to continue like this. I have my sights aimed high.”
The speed on the first two stages this morning was really good,” said Breen, who has been quickest on three out of four stages on leg two of Rallye International du Valais this morning. “The third stage was quite dry and maybe the tyres were too soft. This one was okay but we have to keep pushing. We are a very fast package and we are capable of doing this. We have to continue like this. I have my sights aimed high.