There’s much anticipation around this weekend’s Rally France as it returns to the island of Corsica for the first time since 2008.
The 58th edition of the Tour de Corse – Rallye de France, the fabled Rally of 1,000 Corners, may have had a long-term absence for the World Rally Championship schedule, but there’s no lack of experience among the front-runners, most of whom have contested the event in its previous guises.
However, that might not count for much as this year’s route includes a lot of new roads. And old roads. Some haven’t been included in 30 years. The rally will cover the length and breadth of the island, heading north from base in the capital Ajaccio on Friday, before heading south on Saturday. Sunday’s final leg covers the south of the island.
There are only nine stages, but all are monsters. The shortest is 18 miles long and four are more than 25 miles. A total of 206 miles of stages are spread out over the 611 mile route.
Though the rally is several hundred miles and a chuck of the Mediterranean away from his home in Gap, Tour de Corse will be a homecoming for Sebastien Ogier, fresh from winning his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship title last time out in Australia. His imperious form this season suggests he should be able to run away with it, but Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala has designs on the winner’s trophy.
Latvala currently lies second in the standings, 23 points clear of fellow VW man Andreas Mikkelsen. The title may now be unattainable but “the season is far from over, and I want to win the remaining three rallies,” he told WRC.com. “After all, we can lay the foundation for next season with a successful run-in. Consistency and pace are the two key factors.”
Elsewhere, Hyundai will be hoping to consolidate its second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship. It currently holds a 13 point advantage over Citroen, who will be keen to perform well in front of its home crowd.
With tight, twisty roads and little room for error, Rally France is sure to be one of the toughest, most unforgiving events of the season. A surprise result is entirely possible.
Rally France runs from 2-4 October.
Drivers’ Championshhip standings after 10 events
- Sebastien Ogier — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 235 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 134
- Andreas Mikkelsen — Volkswagen Motorsport II/VW Polo R WRC — 111
- Mads Ostberg — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — 90
- Thierry Neuville — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 86
- Kris Meeke — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi/DS 3 WRC — 71
- Elfyn Evans — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 63
- Ott Tanak — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 62
- Hayden Paddon — Hyundai Motorsport N/Hyundai i20 WRC — 56
- Dani Sordo — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 56
Manufacturers’ Championshhip standings after 10 events
- Volkswagen Motorsport — 343 points
- Hyundai Motorsport — 177
- Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team — 164
- M-Sport World Rally Team — 148
- Volkswagen Motorsport II — 76
- Hyundai Motorsport N — 49
- Jipocar Czech National Team — 43
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By Only Motors