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Rally de France - 44th Tour De Corse
Round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship 28th September - 1st October
End of Leg 3, Final
Sunday 1st October
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

The FIA World Rally Championship is now down to four drivers, with three events still to run following the Tour de Corse-Rallye de France. A dominant 1-2 result for Peugeot allowed the leaderboard to close up again as championship leader Marcus Gronholm took fifth place. Richard Burns is just two points behind the Finn while the Ford drivers Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz complete the leading quartet with just five points covering these top four place. Over today's six stages, a repeat of Friday's opening leg, Ford was able to extend its lead in the manufacturers' championship with Peugeot climbing into second place ahead of Subaru. The FIA World Rally Championship now moves a short distance across the Mediterranean to San Remo for the final asphalt event of the season before the championship concludes with gravel events in Australia and Great Britain.

Despite the fact that Gilles Panizzi was leading François Delecour by less than a second after today's first two stages, when challenger Carlos Sainz lost a minute and the possibility of continuing the fight, Peugeot team director Corrado Provera told his drivers to hold station to the finish. "I have told both drivers that the positions are not to change and that Gilles is to win," he said. "Gilles has driven a fantastic rally and deserves his first WRC victory while we are really happy to take our first 1-2." Panizzi's only problem today was the delay before starting SS14, that saw him lose his rhythm, while Delecour said that he felt good and really wanted to win. "I'll have to let Gilles win if I am told to but I don't like team orders. I don't understand why we must do this because it is not sport," he said before beating his team mate on the next stage to retake the lead! Over the final two stages he backed off to comply with the orders. Marcus Gronholm was finding it easy to set quick times today on stages he was now driving for a second time (today is a repeat of Friday's opening leg). "Marcus has astonished everyone with his speed here," said Provera. "He started steadily but today he's up to his usual speed."

Colin McRae, who crashed out of the rally yesterday, spent a comfortable night in Bastia hospital and was expected to fly home to Scotland later today. Ford motorsport director Martin Whitaker explained today that the team would assess McRae's physical and mental condition in the next few days before making a decision on whether he will be fit enough to tackle the San Remo Rally. McRae (who has a double fracture of his cheek bone and a bruised lung) promised that he would be fit in time! Carlos Sainz came close to losing third place on today's second stage when his power steering failed. He dropped almost a minute to fourth placed Richard Burns but hung on to his position and was able to have the problem fixed at service immediately after the stage. "Luckily it was quite slippery and so not so hard to drive without power-steering," he explained. The third entered driver, Piero Liatti, accomplished to his duty with a valuable sixth place.

Richard Burns has again endured a day of mysterious performance. "I really don't know why I'm not setting faster times. I just can't have tried hard enough on the first stage today but I pushed hard all through SS13 and still couldn't get it right," he said. "It seems that we're quite close to the Peugeots and Fords halfway through the stages but then we lose the time on the second half. It's a mystery because the car doesn't feel like there's anything getting worse. My biggest worry now is that Marcus [Gronholm] will catch me. It's only his first visit here but he seems to be learning very quickly!" Burns, however, responded to the threat by setting his first fastest time of the day (and only his second of the event) on SS15 and again on SS16.

Didier Auriol was considerably quicker today than on the same stages during the first leg and was able to regularly set top six times. "I've made some changes to the differentials," he said. "The car is now a lot easier to drive but I have been saving my tyres to make sure that I can attack on the downhill sections at the end of the stages." He rounded off the event with second fastest on the final stage. Team mate Toni Gardemeister stuck to his rally-long plan of driving for a finish on his Corsican debut and was therefore not overly concerned to be caught and passed by both Patrice Morel and Sebastien Loeb although he #missed out on tenth place by just 0.1s.

The Hyundai Castrol team has reverted to test session mode today in a bid to cure the understeer that has hampered Alister McRae's progress throughout the event. "We have decided to use today as an asphalt test in preparation for San Remo," said a team spokesman.

Just 1.5kms into today's opening stage, Mitsubishi's presence in the rally was over. Tommi Makinen crashed off the road and became the day's first retirement, ironically on the same stage that claimed team mate Freddy Loix two days ago. The stage was halted for some time while a photographer was treated for injuries (a broken pelvis and broken rib) sustained when Makinen crashed. The Finn still has a mathematical chance of retaining his FIA World Championship, but he is now in fifth place and with an 18 points gap from the leader.

Other teams
Teams Cup leader Sercan Yazici (Team Atakan) retired from the rally this morning after hitting something and losing a wheel. It left Hamed Al Wahaibi (Arab World team) to an unchallenged victory that takes the Subaru driver into fourth place in the championship. Manfred Stohl's Group N victory sees the Austrian extend his lead over second placed Gustavo Trelles who remains in contention for a record fifth consecutive FIA crown.

Tyre facts
The stage-winning performance of Michelin's tyres in both dry and wet conditions (respectively with the firm's N 'FP' and TA patterns) took Michelin to its twelfth Corsican success since 1985 and its sixth consecutive clear asphalt win since the 1998 San Remo Rally. Michelin drivers were fastest on fourteen of the French round's seventeen stages.

Today's stages were mainly dry and so the Pirelli crews stayed faithful to the RP5 tyre. Richard Burns set two fastest times (SS15 and SS16) to fend off the challenge of Marcus Gronholm and close the points gap to the championship leader.
Unofficial Final Results
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 4:02:14,2
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 4:02:47,7
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 4:03:26,8
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 4:03:45,1
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 4:04:11,3
6 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 4:05:08,0
7 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 4:05:23,7
8 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 4:05:44,9
9 Loeb Toyota Corolla WRC 4:09:07,4
10 Morel Peugeot 206 WRC 4:09:34,6

Formula 2
1 Rousellot Renault Megane 4:13:51,3
2 Manzagol Peugeot 306 Maxi 4:17:53,3
3 Bugalski Citroen Saxo Kit Car 4:22:13,1

Group N
1 Stohl Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:22:28,0
2 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:23:00,6
3 Santoni Mitsu Lancer Evo V 4:25:33,3

Teams Cup
1 Al-Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 4:17:04,9 Arab World Rally Team
Provisional FIA World Championship Points
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (unofficial positions after 11 of 14 rounds):
Gronholm (FIN) 46
Burns (GB) 44
McRae (GB) 42
Sainz (E) 41
Makinen (FIN) 28
Kankkunen (FIN) 18

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 11 of 14 rounds):
Ford 83
Peugeot 74
Subaru 69
Mitsubishi 35
Skoda 8
Hyundai 5

FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (unofficial positions after 11 of 14 rounds):
Stohl (A) 58
Trelles (ROU) 48
Paasonen (FIN) 21
Pozzo (RA) 22
Menzi (I) 16
Campos (P) 13
Pykalisto (FIN) 12
Ferreyros (PE) 12

FIA Teams' Cup (unofficial positions after 11 of 14 rounds):
Spike Subaru Rally Team 36
Toyota Team Saudi Arabia 32
F.Dor Rally Team 26
Arab World Rally Team 20
Team Ataken 13
Wisja TV Turning Point Rally Team 10
Stage Winners
SS13 - Panizzi, SS14 - Delecour, SS15 - Burns, SS16 - Burns, SS17 - Gronholm, SS18 - Sainz
Leading Retirements
SS1 Loix (Mitsubishi) - acccident 200M into stage
SS1 Solberg (Subaru) - broken gear linkage
SS3 Eriksson (Hyundai) - clutch
SS9 Galli(Grp N Mitsubishi) - accident
SS10 McRae (Ford) - accident
SS13 Makinen (Mitsubishi) - accident
SS13 Yazici (Toyota) - accident/suspension
SS 13, Vero-Pont d'Azzana 18.22 km 1st Car: 07:38
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 13:01,4
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 13:06,2
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 13:08,0
4 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 13:13,6
5 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 13:14,5
SS 14, Lopigna-Sarrola 29.96 km 1st Car: 08:26
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 20:17,1
2 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 20:22,6
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 20:30,7
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 20:37,0
5 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 20:38,0
SS 15, Bellevalle-Pietra Rossa 20.84 km 1st Car: 10:34
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:19,2
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 12:20,3
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 12:20,7
4 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 12:21,5
5 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 12:21,6
SS 16, Filitosa-Bicchisano 22.47 km 1st Car: 11:19
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 14:03,5
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 14:07,7
3 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 14:09,8
4 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 14:10,1
5 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 14:10,4
SS 17, Cuttoli-Peri 17.34 km 1st Car: 13:32
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 11:31,1
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:32,2
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 11:33,8
4 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 11:36,1
5 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 11:36,3
SS 18, Gare de Carbuccia-Tavera 20.04 km 1st Car: 14:10
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 12:55,8
2 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 12:56,1
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:58,7
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 13:05,3
5 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 13:05,4

End of Leg 2
Saturday 30th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

Today's second leg, based north of Ajaccio on stages around Corte, proved just as dramatic as yesterday's leg close to Ajaccio. Last night's thunderstorms left the stages soaking wet and littered with leaves, causing problems for tyre choice. However, the Peugeots continued to set the pace with Gilles Panizzi gradually extending his lead over team mate Francois Delecour. Heavy concentration of spectators forced the FIA Safety Delegate to recommend the cancellation of SS8 while SS10 was halted with just six cars recording a time following the accident that ended Colin McRae's Corsica Rally. In the very last stage Delecour snatched the lead from his team mate and will restart tomorrow final leg with probably the smaller margin ever, 2 tenths of a second!

Gilles Panizzi began today's second leg as he had finished yesterday's stages - setting fastest times. The Frenchman, who has still to win a World Championship rally, was surprised to be so quick in the wet. " I thought that we would lose a lot more time but we found that we had just as much traction in the wet as we did in the dry." While Panizzi revelled in the conditions, his team mate Francois Delecour was not so happy with the same hand-cut Michelin TA03 intermediate tyres that had given Panizzi the edge. He said after the stage that he felt the road was not wet enough for that particular choice.

Colin McRae was at the centre of a frightening moment four kilometres into SS10 when his Ford Focus crashed off the road. The Scot was believed to be unconscious and trapped in the car for a while before the rescue services freed him. Happily he was soon walking around and talking to the medical personnel but it was felt wise to take him by helicopter to hospital in Bastia for examination. McRae's team mate Carlos Sainz brushed the rear of his car against a wall on today's opening stage and the third Martini Focus, driven by Piero Liatti, reported both brake problems and a recurrence of the fault with Ford's development semi-automatic gearshift system.

Any hopes that Richard Burns may have had that he could strike back on this morning's wet roads were dashed by a poor time on the opening stage, almost a second per kilometre slower than Gilles Panizzi's pace-setting Peugeot. "I don't know what the problem is," he explained after the stage. "It's just very frustrating." Team mate Simon Jean-Joseph was quicker than Burns on that wet stage and then moved up to sixth place behind the Englishman when Tommi Makinen hit trouble on the dry SS9, both Subaru crews benefiting one stage later from Colin McRae's dramatic retirement.

Tommi Makinen's slim chances of winning this year's FIA World Rally Championship looked to be slipping even further away when he hit a big rock on the second of today's five stages. The impact smashed the front-right wheel rim, pulled off a brake pipe and also snapped part of the suspension. Makinen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki were able to repair the damage after the stage.

SEAT's woes continued this morning with Didier Auriol reporting clutch problems on the opening stage and power steering worries on the second. "It stiffened up a couple of times during the early part of the stage," he said. "It seems we are losing time going uphill and gaining it again coming downÉ" Toni Gardemeister took things easily on the opening stage but was still suffering gearbox problems on SS9 and SS10.

The Hyundai team enjoyed a trouble-free morning and Alister McRae was able to set better times after mechanics made some minor adjustments to the Accent WRC at the first service opportunity. It was perhaps fortunate that SS10 was run as a liaison section following the accident involving Colin McRae as Alister was naturally worried about his elder brother's health. To drive competitively under those circumstances would not have been easy.

Other teams
Hamed Al Wahaibi (Arab World team) continued to lead the FIA Teams Cup competition this afternoon but his only rival, Sercan Yazici (Team Atakan) was just one place behind in the rally's overall classification. Manfred Stohl seems to be in command of the Group N situation with well over one minute's lead over his FIA Championship rival Gustavo Trelles. Third place was held by Jean-Marie Santoni who was delayed this morning and lost second place to the four-time champion from Uruguay. The FFSA Junior Team has been proving its potential at FIA World Rally Championship level with Sebastian Loeb in 10th outright in his Toyota Corolla and Fabrice Morel lying in 12th in his Peugeot 206WRC.

Tyre facts
In both the wet conditions early this morning, then in the fast drying stages later in the day, Michelin's partners continued to dominate the stage time sheet to pull further clear at the front today. The Michelin TA intermediate pattern proved the fastest choice in the damp while the Michelin N2 dry weather tyre repeated it's stage winning performance in the dry this afternoon.

Pirelli crews used the RE intermediate tyre (with additional hand cuts) for the opening stage today before reverting to the RP dry weather tyre for the remainder of the day's stages.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 2
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 2:37:16,8
2 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 2:37:17,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 2:37:42,7
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:38:46,7
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 2:39:23,6
6 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 2:39:47,3
7 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 2:39:48.9
8 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 2:40:15,6
9 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 2:41:39,9
10 Loeb Toyota Corolla WRC 2:42:24,5

Formula 2
1 Rousellot Renault Megane 2:44:19,2
2 Bugalski Citroen Saxo Kit Car 2:50:26,0
3 Puras Citroen Saxo Kit Car 2:53:01,4

Group N
1 Stohl Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 2:50:08,2
2 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 2:51:19,3
3 Hideg Mitsu Lancer Evo V 2:53:09,7

Teams Cup
1 Yazici Toyota Corolla WRC 2:46:08,1 Team Atakan
2 Al-Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 2:46:13,2 Arab World Rally Team

Stage Winners
SS7 - Panizzi, SS8 - cancelled, SS9 - Panizzi, SS10 - cancelled, SS11 - Delecour, SS12 - Delecour
Leading Retirements
SS1 Loix (Mitsubishi) - acccident 200M into stage
SS1 Solberg (Subaru) - broken gear linkage
SS3 Eriksson (Hyundai) - clutch
SS9 Galli(Grp N Mitsubishi) - accident
SS10 McRae (Ford) - accident
SS 7, Morasaglia-Campile 31.91 km 1st Car: 09:48
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 21:02,8
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 21:05,7
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 21:14,6
4 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 21:17,4
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 21:23,1
SS 8, Taverna-Pont de Castirla 16.14 km 1st Car: 11:01
Cancelled due to large number of spectators
SS 9, Noceta-Muracciole 16.60 km 1st Car: 12:53
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 10:10,6
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 10:11,1
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10:12,4
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 10:17,2
5 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 10:17,8
SS 10, Feo-Col San Quilico 24.06 km 1st Car: 13:51
Stage cancelled following Colin McRae's accident
SS 11, Pont Saint Laurent-Bustanico 26.44 km 1st Car: 17:12
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 17:30,9
2 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 17:31,9
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 17:33,9
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 17:39,3
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 17:44,0
SS 12, Feo-Altiani 16.52 km 1st Car: 18:00
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10:26,3
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 10:31,5
3 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 10:35,4
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 10:35,8
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 10:35,9
End of Leg 1
Friday 29th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

The 44th Tour de Corse got off to a frantic start today with several drivers hitting trouble early on. However, once the drivers settled into the first FIA World Championship asphalt event since Catalunya, it was the Peugeot's of Francois Delecour and Gilles Panizzi that set the pace over today's six stages around Ajaccio, with the latter getting home tonight with a tiny 6sec lead. Tomorrow takes the cars north to the stages around Corte where the proximity of the mountains may bring dramatic changes of weather and maybe a few more surprises.

FIA World Championship leader Marcus Gronholm suffered with badly overheating brakes on the first stage today, attributed to the stresses of using left foot braking. "I've had to change to right foot braking and I'm not used to it. I've got no confidence in the brakes," he said after the second stage. His times improved later today when he changed to a more 'rigid' construction tyre. Gilles Panizzi took things easy on the opening stage before setting fastest time on the second, despite being delayed by Kenneth Eriksson's limping Hyundai. "It's not easy to come back after six months and go quickly immediately," said Panizzi. "However I hope that I can get back to being fully competitive over the next two days." Team mate François Delecour opened an early lead with Panizzi hard on his heels but warned that the weather may yet play its part. "If it rains then tyre choice can be a lottery," he said. "It would also favour cars with a longer wheelbase than ours." Both Delecour and Mitsubishi's Tommi Makinen had to slow on SS5 to avoid pigs on the road.

Cyprus Rally winner Carlos Sainz enjoyed a trouble free opening day in Corsica. "I think my confidence is reflected in my stage times," he said. Colin McRae was also fairly happy, but was unable to run at the Spaniard's pace after choosing too soft a tyre compared to his team mate. "The tyres were moving around too much when I pushed hard," he said. "This is typical asphalt rallying. We're all very close and so the only way anyone gets a big advantage is if someone else makes a mistake." Piero Liatti's first drive in a Ford Focus was being treated as a test exercise for the new semi-automatic gearshift. However, the system developed a fault on the opening stage and the Italian switched to the manual option for SS2. Once restored, Liatti was enthusiastic about the system. "Once you've driven with it you never want to revert to the old system again," he said.

Richard Burns was playing a waiting game over today's six stages, fastest on the first but then concentrating on not making mistakes on the rest. "The important thing is not to make any mistakes," he said. "Pushing unnecessarily hard won't give me any advantage." Petter Solberg's first event in a factory-prepared Subaru hit trouble with gear selection problems on only the first stage. The Norwegian found himself stranded on the test before he eventually found a gear that could get him to the top of the mountain and was then able to coast down the other side. He completed the stage but went OTL before the start of SS2.

Mitsubishi's troubled Belgian driver Freddy Loix was the unfortunate first retirement of the event, sliding his Carisma GT off the road on only the third corner of the first stage. "I made a big, stupid mistake," he admitted. "I went too quickly at the start when the tyres were cold. I had no grip at all on the first left-hand corner. It took us by surprise and we went off the road." The car fell 20 metres onto a dry river bed. Team leader Tommi Makinen took harder compound tyres than his rivals for the first pair of stages but only lost a little time. He damaged a wheel on SS4 when he twice hit rocks. "No one is gaining much of an advantage," he said. "We're all going flat out."

Didier Auriol felt his Cordoba engine was down on power over the opening pair of stages, as did Toni Gardemeister, but the Finn was s uffering more on the second stage with too soft suspension. "The car is bouncing quite a lot," he said. "It's affecting my vision." Auriol's power problem was resolved after SS4 when a broken spark plug was discovered and the Cordoba was no longer running on three cylinders. Both cars have had gearshift problems and Gardemeister has had to revert to the manual operation instead of the joystick as the engine cut-out system has failed.

Alister McRae lost fifth gear on the second stage but was able to have a replacement gearbox at first service. Team mate Kenneth Eriksson lost 10 minutes to the leaders on the same stage when he went off the road. He completed the stage with two punctures (that he attributed to having chosen too soft a compound) that left him running on the rims but he then retired on the run to service with a damaged clutch.

Other teams
A small fire, possibly caused by an oil leak from a damaged steering rack gaiter, forced Andrea Dallavilla to withdraw at the service parc after SS2. Group N saw FIA World Championship leader Manfred Stohl take an early lead from Jean-Marie Santoni as Mitsubishi held the first 15 places. Omani driver Hamed Al Wahaibi (in the Arab World team Subaru) led the FIA Teams Cup competition by almost a minute from the Team Atakan Toyota of Sercan Yazici.

Tyre facts
With anticipated rain holding off, (relatively) low temperatures meant that all Michelin's WRC partners chose the 2 or Evolution 2 compound/construction of the Michelin N 'FP' dry weather tyre for at least two of the day's three loops. Michelin drivers were fastest on five of the day's six stages to fill the top four positions at the end of the first leg.

Richard Burns set the fastest time on the opening stage and remains in contention at the end of today. The Englishman reported no problems with his RP (dry weather) tyres while other Pirelli runners also survived without drama thanks to the EMI anti-deflation system that lessened the effect of the few damaged tyres that resulted from brushes with rocks.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 1
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 1:22:30,2
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 1:22:36,2
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 1:22:46,6
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 1:22:51,1
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 1:22:54,7
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 1:22:56,3
7 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 1:23:31,3
8 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 1:23:42,4
9 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 1:24:01,4
10 Liatti Ford Focus WRC 1:24:05,9

Formula 2
1 Rousellot Renault Megane 1:25:45.1
2 Bugalski Citroen Saxo Kit Car 1:29:41.4
3 Puras Citroen Saxo Kit Car 1:31:47.0

Group N
1 Stohl Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 1:29:59,6
2 Gallie Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 1:30:20,3
3 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 1:30:40,0

Teams Cup
1 Al-Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 1:27:13,7 Arab World Rally Team
2 Yazici Toyota Corolla WRC 1:28:08,7 Team Atakan
Stage Winners
SS1 - Burns, SS2 - Panizzi, SS3 - Delecour, SS4 - Panizzi, SS5 - Panizzi, SS6 - Panizzi
Leading Retirements
SS1 Loix (Mitsubishi) - acccident 200M into stage
SS1 Solberg (Subaru) - broken gear linkage
SS3 Eriksson (Hyundai) - clutch
SS 1, Vero-Pont d'Azzana 18.22km 1st Car: 09:08
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:49,6
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 12:52,1
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 12:53,2
4 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 12:53,7
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 12:53,8
SS 2, Lopigna-Sarrola 29.96km 1st Car: 09:56
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 19:48,9
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 19:49,8
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 19:53,3
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 19:54,5
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 19:55,0
SS 3, Bellevalle-Pietra Rossa 20.84km 1st Car: 12:04
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 12:16,5
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 12:18,0
3 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 12:18,6
4 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 12:18,8
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:19,7
SS 4, Filitosa-Bicchisano 22.47km 1st Car: 12:49
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 14:07,1
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 14:07,8
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 14:08,9
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 14:12,4
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 14:13,4
SS 5, Cuttoli-Peri 17.34km 1st Car: 15:02
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 11:30,1
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 11:31,0
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 11:31,1
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 11:32,1
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:33,7
SS 6, Gare de Carbuccia-Tavera 20.04km 1st Car: 15:40
1 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 11:51,8
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 11:57,3
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 11:58,4
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 11:58,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 11:59,1
Thursday 28th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

The FIA World Rally Championship moves from one Mediterranean island to another! From the twisty gravel roads of Cyprus the battle has now moved to the twisty asphalt roads of Corsica and a completely fresh challenge for the leading crews. Tipping a winner here is notoriously difficult, but the rally will doubtless be a crucial point in the series. With just three rounds to go after this event, Corsica will determine which teams and drivers are seriously in the hunt for the Championship. Based at Ajaccio, the rally faces a unique combination of tortuous mountain roads and unpredictable weather that can bring tyre choice into the equation as much as it does in Monte Carlo and Catalunya.

Ford (79 points)
Ford Martini comes to Corsica on the back of its dominant win in Cyprus but the two Mediterranean island events could hardly be more different. Nevertheless both Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz remain confident that they can score well in their quest for both the drivers' and manufacturers' World Championship titles. Ford can also draw confidence from a 1-3 result in Catalunya but, as Sainz points out, "That was a long time ago and Corsica has a very different character." McRae believes that the positions in the title race will be clearer after the two asphalt events, here in Corsica and then in San Remo. "Both are classic asphalt events that may not suit [series leader] Marcus Gronholm who has relatively little experience of them. It's a good opportunity for all of us to score points." A third Martini Ford Focus is entered for Italian ace Piero Liatti, drafted in to bring extra asphalt firepower for Corsica and San Remo but not registered for manufacturers' points. Liatti's car is being used as a test bed for the electronic joystick gearchange that may appear on Ford's main cars in San Remo.

Subaru (64 points)
Subaru arrives in Corsica with a very different driver line-up to the one normally seen. While Richard Burns continues to lead the team Juha Kankkunen is replaced (for Corsica and San Remo) by Martinique driver Simon Jean-Joseph. A third works prepared - but privately entered - Subaru is also competing here, driven by Norway's Petter Solberg who has recently joined Subaru from Ford. Of the trio, only Burns and Jean-Joseph are registered for FIA World Championship points in the manufacturers' competition while Corsica marks Solberg's first ever drive in a Subaru apart from a familiarisation test 10 days ago in England. Subaru's fourth driver for 2001, Estonian Markko Martin, is also on the island. He is not competing on the rally but made the recce for future experience.

Peugeot (58 points)
Corsica 1999 was the debut event for Peugeot's 206WRC and the team hopes that Corsica 2000 will mark its first asphalt victory. The team has entered three cars in Corsica but interestingly Peugeot has not nominated FIA World Championship leader Marcus Gronholm for manufacturers' points. For that purpose the pressure will fall on Francois Delecour (several people's tip for victory, it appears) and Gilles Panizzi while Gronholm is left to concentrate on the drivers' series. Normally Gronholm would have to start the event after the manufacturer nominated drivers but the FIA has clarified that, as championship leader, he can still start the event first on the road. Team director Corrado Provera says: "Corsica will be a turning point for our championship challenge. Because our rivals have scored well on recent events we are behind in our mathematical expectations and so must win here to maintain a chance of winning the championship."

Mitsubishi (35 points)
Corsica will provide a major test of the latest revisions to Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution. "It feels very different to the car we had in Catalunya," said reigning four-time FIA World Champion Tommi Makinen. "There have been many changes to the suspension and transmission and, until the rally begins, it is hard to say how much better it is. There is less weight on the front and the turn-in is better but it is a long time since we did an asphalt rally so we don't know where we are compared to other teams." Team mate Freddy Loix has limited experience of this rally but is an acknowledged asphalt expert and arrives in Corsica following a superb drive in Cyprus where he seemed to rediscover his form at last. "The car feels quite precise but I agree with Tommi about not knowing how we compare with our rivals," he said. "It's good for me that only four stages have been used before but it's still going to be an interesting week!"

SEAT (7 points)
Didier Auriol has won the Corsica Rally six times, equal to Bernard Darniche's all-time record and more time than any of his rival drivers put together. As a result he completed the recce and admitted: "That was a bit like a holiday for me! Even though so many stages are new, I know the island very well and so it was not too much of a problem. However, I expect Toni [Gardemeister] might not think the same." As Auriol expected, the Finn had found the recce a little harder than his French team mate but not the event itself. "I was quite surprised to find that the roads are not as twisty as I expected. Some of the roads close to Ajaccio are quite difficult but the rest are actually very nice to drive."

Hyundai (5 points)
Having missed Cyprus, Hyundai returns to the championship and only the second asphalt event for the Accent WRC (Hyundai also missed Monte Carlo). Catalunya had been used as a test exercise and, following a recent test in the south of France, Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae come to Corsica seeking a good result. "We've achieved a lot in testing," said Eriksson. "We covered a full rally distance without any problems and after some good results in New Zealand and Finland I'm well prepared for Corsica." McRae is also happy enough with the car's preparation for this event. "Reliability seems to be good and we've sorted out the settings for the suspension and differentials so I'm happy with the car's potential here."

Skoda (8 points)
Skoda is absent for this event but will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in San Remo next month.

Other teams
Last year's Corsica winners Citroen are again present but with the Saxo kit car (for Philippe Bugalski and Jesus Puras) and not the winning Xsara version. Also, because the Xsara T4 is ineligible for this event, Corsica should be the first round of the 2000 French Championship not to be won by Bugalski! The FIA Teams Cup entries in Corsica are for the Arab World Team (the Subaru of Hamed Al Waihibi) and Team Atakan (Serkan Yazici's Toyota Corolla WRC). Mitsubishi's Group N teams are the clear favourites for Group N victory having been unbeaten all season. Manfred Stohl leads the FIA Championship but quadruple champion Gustavo Trelles closed the gap with his Cyprus success. Bot have won the category in Corsica before and so this event could be a crucial point in the quest for this season's championship. Argentine drivers Claudio Menzi and Gabriel Pozzo are also in contention for the title but have limited asphalt experience.

Tyre facts
"Tyre choice may be critical here," says Ford's Carlos Sainz. "If the weather is changeable then three days' good work can be ruined by one poor tyre choice." Michelin's rally manager Aimé Chatard agrees that Corsica remains one of the biggest challenges of the year for the tyres, despite a date change that reduces the risk of the changeable weather to which Sainz refers. The weather forecast for tomorrow suggests, however, that 'changeable' is the key word.

Pirelli: On the subject of how critical the tyre wear will be in Corsica, Gianfranco Martelli of Pirelli's technical division joked, If the tyre wears out then it's critical!" More seriously he points out that the modern Corsica Rally is not as bad as the old because the roads are now much better surfaced than in the past and not so abrasive. Pirelli made big improvements to its asphalt performance in Catalunya so there is plenty of interest to see if that can be sustained here in Corsica.

Warm, humid and cloudy at first, possibly rain in the afternoon
Stage Itinerary
Leg 1, Friday 29th September
SS 1 09:08 Vero-Pont d'Azzana 18.22km
SS 2 09:56 Lopigna-Sarrola 29.96km
SS 3 12:04 Bellevalle-Pietra Rossa 20.84km
SS 4 12:49 Filitosa-Bicchisano 22.47km
SS 5 15:02 Cuttoli-Peri 17.34km
SS 6 15:40 Gare de Carbuccia-Tavera 20.04km
Total Leg 1 Competitive 128.87km

Leg 2, Saturday 30th September
SS7 09:48 Morasaglia-Campile 31.91km
SS8 11:01 Taverna-Pont de Castirla 16.14km
SS9 12:53 Noceta-Muracciole 16.60km
SS10 13:51 Feo-Col San Quilico 24.06km
SS11 15:52 Pont Saint Laurent-Bustanico 26.44km
SS12 16:40 Feo-Altiani 16.52km
Total Leg 2 Competitive 131.67km

Leg 3, Sunday 1st October
SS13 07:38 Vero-Pont d'Azzana 18.22km
SS14 08:26 Lopigna-Sarrola 29.96km
SS15 10:34 Bellevalle-Pietra Rossa 20.84km
SS16 11:19 Filitosa-Bicchisano 22.47km
SS17 13:32 Cuttoli-Peri 17.34km
SS18 14:10 Gare de Carbuccia-Tavera 20.04km
Total Leg 3 Competitive 128.87km
Total Competitive 389.41km
Entry List (top 30 out of 125 cars - 56 Group A & 69 Group N)
1 Tommi Makinen/Risto Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo A8
2 Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets Mitsubishi Carisma Gt A8
3 Richard Burns/Robert Reid Subaru Impreza WRC 2000 A8
4 Simon Jean-Joseph/Jacques Boyere Subaru Impreza WRC 2000 A8
5 Colin McRae/Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC A8
6 Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya Ford Focus WRC A8
7 Didier Auriol/Denis Giraudet Seat Cordoba WRC E3 A8
8 Toni Gardemeister/Paavo Lukander Seat Cordoba WRC E3 A8
9 François Delecour/Daniel Grataloup Peugeot 206 WRC A8
10 Gilles Panizzi/Hervé Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC A8
14 Kenneth Eriksson/Staffan Parmander Hyundai Accent A8
15 Alister McRae/David Senior Hyundai Accent A8
16 Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen Peugeot 206 WRC A8
17 Piero Liatti/Carlo Cassina Ford Focus WRC A8
18 Petter Solberg/Philip Mills Subaru Impreza WRC A8
19 Andréa Dallavilla/Danilo Fappani Subaru Impreza WRC A8
20 Hamed Al Wahaibi/Tony Sircombe Subaru Impreza WRC 99 A8
21 Serkan Yazici/Erkan Bodur Toyota Corolla WRC A8
22 Gustavo Trelles/Jorge Del Buono Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VI N4
23 Gianluigi Galli/Flavio Zanella Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VI N4
24 Ramon Ferreyros/Diego Vallejo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VI N4
25 Gabriel Mendez/Daniel Muzio Mitsubishi Lancer N4
26 Gabriel Pozzo/Fabian Cretu Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VI N4
27 Claudio Menzi/Edgardo Galindo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VI N4
28 Philippe Bugalski/Jean-Paul Chiaroni Citroën Saxo Kit Car A6
29 Andréa Maselli/Nicola Arena Peugeot 106 Maxi A6
30 Jesus Puras/Marc Marti Citroën Saxo Kit Car A6

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