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Leg 1: Elfyn Evans takes the lead
After a very difficult first day due to the execrable weather conditions, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barrit (M-Sport World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC) have caused a major upset and arrived in Place Saint Nicolas in Bastia in the lead! The 36-km special stage three posed a tough challenge for numerous crews and from it emerged the first hierarchy in the 58th Tour de Corse.
The first leg: summary
– After SS2 was cancelled, because of the weather, the first leg proved to be a tricky challenge for all the WRC crews. The Corsican stages have always been noted for their pitfalls and they lived up to their reputation! The day’s two stages damaged by the heavy rain that hit the Corte region played havoc with the plans of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Motorsport, Hyundai i20 WRC), Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) and Dani Sordo (Hyundai Motorsport, Hyundai i20 WRC), who met with diverse fortunes today.
– While Neuville had to retire in the very first kilometre due to a contact that damaged the right-hand rear suspension of his Hyundai i20 WRC, Ogier and Sordo lost precious seconds in SS3, Orezza 1. Ogier had dead-heated with Robert Kubica for the fastest time in the first stage of the day, and he then had to stop to change a wheel due to a puncture losing almost one-and-a-half minutes to the leaders. Sordo damaged a rim when he was caught out by a puddle of water losing more than two minutes.
– At the end of the first leg, Elfyn Evans (M-Sport World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC) led the pack thanks to his awesome performance in SS3. The Welshman was satisfied with the work done by his gravel car and he opened up a big gap in this stage avoiding all the traps and finished the leg in the lead. Like Evans, Kevin Abbring (Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai i20 WRC) took advantage of the 36-kilometres stage which closed the first leg to put on a great performance, even if he was held up by a car in front of him at the end of the special. This evening, the Dutchman is lying second in the overall classification in front of Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) who drove carefully today.
– Behind the leading trio Mads Ostberg (Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Citroën DS3 WRC) leads a group of five drivers covered by less than nine seconds comprising Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), Stéphane Sarrazin (Ford Fiesta WRC), Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Motorsport II, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) and Kris Meeke (Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Citroën DS3 WRC). Rounding out the top 10 are Bryan Bouffier (M-Sport World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta RS WRC) and Ogier.
– In WRC 2, Craig Breen (Saintéloc Junior Team, Peugeot 208T16) ended the first day in first place. The Irish driver made a cautious start in SS1 and took the lead of the rally by a short head from Julien Maurin (Ford Fiesta RRC) and Esapekka Lappi (Skoda Motorsport, Skoda Fabia R5). Éric Camilli (Team Oreca, Ford Fiesta R5), the FFSA French Rally Team driver was in an encouraging fifth place after this leg.
Yohan Rossel, another member of the FFSA French Rally Team, put on a stunning performance in WRC 3. On his first outing in the island rally, the driver in the Citroën DS3 R3 set the two fastest times and finished in front of Simone Tempestini and Terry Folb at the end of a perfect day. Quentin Gilbert, solidly installed in fourth place, played it safe with the aim of bagging a large haul of points as he closes in on the title.
Summary leg 1 2 special stages (1 cancelled) Fastest times: Ogier and Kubica: 1 dead-heat Evans: 1
Leaders : SS1: Ogier and Kubica SS3 : Evans
Classification after SS3 (end of leg 1)
1. Evans/Barrit (M-Sport World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta WRC) in 46mn48.5sec
2. Abbring/Marshall (Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai i20 WRC) 18.7sec behind
3. Latvala/Anttila (Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 22.9sec behind
4. Ostberg/Andersson (Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team,Citroën DS3 WRC) 38.8sec behind
5. Kubica/Szczepaniak (Robert Kubica World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta WRC) 40.3sec behind
6. Sarrazin/Renucci (Ford Fiesta WRC) 43.1sec behind
7. Mikkelsen/Floene (Volkswagen Motorsport II, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 44.5sec behind
8. Meeke/Nagle (Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team,Citroën DS3 WRC) 47sec behind
9. Bouffier/De La Haye (M-Sport World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta WRC) 1mn04.8sec behind
10. Ogier/Ingrassia ((Volkswagen Motorsport, Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1mn13.sec behind
MAIN RETIREMENT Neuville (Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai i20 WRC), accident without injury in SS1
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