dimanche 8 avril 2018

WRC ; SATURDAY IN FRANCE: COMFORTABLE LEAD FOR OGIER / (WRC 2) : JAN KOPECKÝ CREUSE L'ÉCART

SÉBASTIEN OGIER REMAINED ON TARGET TO WIN THE CORSICA LINEA - TOUR DE CORSE AFTER EXTENDING HIS LEAD IN SATURDAY’S PENULTIMATE LEG.


Without ever needing to drive flat out, the FIA World Rally Championship leader ended the penultimate day with a 44.5sec advantage after six speed tests in the northernmost tip of the Mediterranean island.
In contrast to yesterday when the world champion won three of the four speed tests in his Ford Fiesta, he drew a blank today, preferring a measured pace which still proved sufficient to leave him with a comfortable lead ahead of tomorrow’s finale.
“Anything can always happen but I don’t take the extra risk and I feel like I’m still in control. I feel comfortable, but if someone says they are 100% in control they’re lying. We must stay focused,” he said after 136.90km of narrow, twisty asphalt and untraditional faster sections.  
A fierce fight for second involving four drivers ended with Ott Tänak snatching position by a tenth of a second from Thierry Neuville in the final Novella test, as Kris Meeke crashed his Citroën C3 into retirement after mishearing a pace note.
Neuville and Meeke started the 17.39km stage tied in second. Handling issues blighted Neuville all afternoon after set-up changes had an adverse effect on his Hyundai i20, and Estonian Tänak capitalised to leap from fourth to second in the final kilometres.
Kris Meeke ended his day in the bushes after an off in SS10










The disappointment was acute for Meeke, the third year in succession that the Ulsterman has retired on this stage.
Just 10.3sec further behind in fourth was Esapekka Lappi. The Finn produced the drive of the day in his Toyota Yaris after suspension and differential changes transformed his confidence. He won two stages to reel in those ahead and has a podium in his sights.
Dani Sordo and Elfyn Evans were evenly matched all day. Sordo ended fifth in his i20, with a 3.1sec advantage over the Welshman who lost time after stalling his Fiesta’s engine and being too hesitant on the tricky mountain roads.
Understeering problems bothered Andreas Mikkelsen this morning, but the Norwegian had a better feeling with his i20 this afternoon to hold seventh. WRC 2 leader Jan Kopecký, Fabio Andolfi and Ole Christian Veiby completed the provisional leaderboard in Skoda Fabia R5s.
Jari-Matti Latvala retired his Yaris from eighth after slamming the rear into a tree and Bryan Bouffier went out with engine problems in his Fiesta. 
Sébastien Loeb, returning after yesterday’s crash, won three stages in his C3.

Sunday’s finale comprises just two stages, but brings a sting in the tail. The opening 55.17km test from Vero to Sarrola-Carcopino is the longest in the rally since 1986. It is followed by the live TV Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest five drivers.

JAN KOPECKÝ EXTENDED HIS LEAD IN WRC 2 TO MORE THAN THREE MINUTES AFTER THE SECOND DAY OF THE CORSICA LINEA - TOUR DE CORSE, AS HIS NEAREST RIVALS SUFFERED A NUMBER OF ISSUES.

The Skoda Fabia R5 driver finished the day with a 3m04.3sec lead over Fabio Andolfi in a similar car, after six stages which mixed long, twisty, tests with sections that crews compared to a race track.
Kopecký won four of the day's six stages but was kept on his toes by fellow Skoda driver Ole Christian Veiby who won the opening two special stages before finishing as runner up on the next three.
However, Veiby's challenge was dealt a blow on SS10 - the second run of the Novella stage - when his gearbox stuck in first gear. He had enough time in hand to remain in third place at the end of the day, 3m49.9sec off the lead. 
Kopecky's other potential rivals fell at the wayside as the day went on. The first to experience issues was Stéphane Lefebvre. After recovering from brake issues in his Citroën C3 R5 on Friday, he suffered further problems on SS5 - going off the road and damaging the car so badly he was forced to retire.
Stéphane Lefebvre went off the road in SS5 and had to retire the C3 R5
Fourth placed Yoann Bonato in another C3 was suffering problems of his own, a glitch with his GPS alert system in SS8 repeatedly - and incorrectly - warned him of red flags on the stage. He lost 6m10sec on the stage and that relegated him to fourth overall. Because of the nature of his problems, the Frenchman is expected to appeal to event stewards to reclaim the time he lost respecting the system. 
"We hope to fight for second place, it was a good day for us except for this morning when I made two mistakes. But I'm happy with the car and happy with everything," he added.
Lukasz Pieniazek finished the day in fifth, more than 12 minutes down on Kopecký after hitting a wall on Friday.
Local hero Pierre Louis Loubet was forced to retire after mechanical issues on SS8 - the second run of the 35.61km Cagnano - Pino - Canari test.


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