Following almost two weeks of dry weather testing and recce ahead of the 2015 WRC Tour de Corse, the island was battered by two days of torrential rain, which undid all of our team’s hard work. As the rally start approached, we had a short (hour-long) test on a mix of Michelin wet weather tyres, before calling on all of the experience amongst our drivers and engineers and setting our first tyre choice for remote service on Friday: Tour de Corse rally day 1.
Our first Tour de Corse is being run with the R-GT championship firmly in mind, so the primary aim is to finish the stages. As the rally got started, it seemed the weather had other ideas, with the rain falling harder and conditions deteriorating rapidly. Before the first ten cars had completed stage 1, much of stage 2 was reported as virtually impassable, leaving the organisers with no choice but to cancel the stage. Here’s what the nearest town looked like:
Delecour/de Castelli pleased to finish Stage One
Tuthill Porsche drivers, former Tour de Corse winner, François Delecour, and new co-driver, Sabrina de Castelli had a safe run through stage one – the 29-kilometre Plage du Liamone to Sarrola-Carcopino – finishing just 11 seconds behind rival Romain Dumas’ 4-litre GT3 RS with a time of 21 minutes and 18 seconds. “A small intercom problem lost a little bit of time, but we are pleased to come out in one piece,” said François at stage end. “It’s a long rally and we need to reach the finish.”
With stage 2 cancelled and the rain in full flow, it seemed as if stage 3 would also fall foul of the weather. Eventually, the stage started 45 minutes later than planned. As the leaders emerged from the 36-kilometre test of their skills, it was clear that the stage had been in very poor condition, with lots of standing water, rocks and gravel making pace notes a lottery.
Welshman Evans leads Tour de Corse Rally
One man who revelled in the state of stage three was Elfyn Evans in the M-Sport Fiesta. The chewed-up mountain roads clearly appealed to the young Welshman, as he’d set a time almost thirty seconds quicker than his closest competitor and was now leading the rally overall. Well done Elfyn!
Delecour and de Castelli again emerged from the stage in one piece. The stage had been exceptionally muddy, leaving François rueing the choice of narrow rear tyres as Dumas had opted for wider rubber, setting a slightly quicker time. However, all had not gone well for our competitor, as his Porsche 997 left the stage with a reported gearbox problem. SS3 split times showed just how much time François and Sabrina had pulled back towards the stage end, so we finished day one in very good spirits.
Tuthill Team pleased with Day One
“A satisying start to our first Tour de Corse,” said team boss Richard Tuthill, as the car was prepared for day two. “Sabrina has brought a new energy: we are all most impressed by her approach. François is delighted to be back here in Corsica, a rally he loves very much. Changes made to the Porsche R-GT since Germany have also proved positive, so the overall picture is very encouraging.
“We’re making no changes to the car overnight and the weather forecast for tomorrow is looking much better than it did a few hours ago. Our rally is all about tyres and finishing safely, so hopefully we can continue to enjoy this magnificent event and maintain our championship lead.”
Tour de Corse Day Two
Day Two of the 2015 Tour de Corse had been scheduled to begin with a 43-kilometre re-run of today’s SS2. Given that those roads were severely affected by today’s weather, forcing the stage to be cancelled, SS4 will more than likely also be cancelled (edit – now officially cancelled) and we’ll head straight into stage 5 just after 10am. The second of Saturday’s stages will kick off 85 more thrilling kilometres of Tour de Corse rallying tension. Do not miss the action – follow Tuthill Porsche on Twitter for updates from Corsica!
Here’s some great Day 1 Tour de Corse video from Michelin, featuring the Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT in action. Tuthill Porsche R-GT pics here by André Lavadinho.