The Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT rally car has won the inaugural FIA R-GT Cup with victory on the 2015 Tour de Corse: round 11 of the 2015 World Rally Championship and the fourth round of the R-GT Cup series.
Tour de Corse is the second win this season for Tuthill’s Porsche R-GT, after an emphatic victory on January’s Monte Carlo Rally, opening round of the 2015 World Rally Championship. French rally legend, François Delecour, has driven the R-GT Porsche all season, but brought a new driving partner to Corsica in the form of Sabrina de Castelli: a Tour de Corse veteran with numerous class wins and podiums to her credit.
Tour de Corse survives worst Corsican weather in decades
Pairing Delecour’s formidable Tour de Corse history, including a win in 1993, with de Castelli’s experience on this classic WRC event proved an unbeatable combination for a Tour de Corse blighted by the worst weather seen on the Mediterranean island for more than thirty years. Torrential rain washed away rally roads and led to multiple stage cancellations.
Starting day two of the rally just twelve seconds behind season-long R-GT rival, Romain Dumas, Delecour was prepared for the slippery first stage. When Dumas was soon forced to stop with a puncture, Delecour rocketed past to seize the R-GT lead. Dumas went on to suffer further car damage and failed to arrive at the start of the next stage. Later that evening, he announced his retirement from the Tour de Corse rally.
Losing Dumas did not hand Delecour a guaranteed win, however, as the Corsican landscape with its unforgiving cliff faces and 500-metre vertical drops can always bite back. The Tuthill Porsche crew and its drivers still had to get the car to the finish. Four stages later, a delighted François Delecour stood on the podium alongside the Tuthill Porsche R-GT and both of his R-GT co-drivers: the perfect end to an incredible battle.
Richard Tuthill: Finishing Counts
“Rallying is not about getting just one aspect right,” said team boss, Richard Tuthill, at the end of the rally. “This is a team sport, where a single weak link can damage the entire team’s ability to compete and to finish. Just as in the historic rallies where we earned our reputation and continue to excel, our team’s ability to build Porsche 911s that perform and finish rallies has made the biggest difference.
“We fought a long battle to bring GT cars back to WRC rallying, and our first season with the Porsche R-GT has been exceptionally challenging. A huge ‘thank you’ must go to our sponsors – Visit Romania, Michelin Tyres, Millers Oils and EXE-TC Suspension – without whom we could not have achieved this FIA R-GT Cup series win. Thanks must also go to Michèle Mouton and the FIA for their courage in making R-GT a reality.
“Winning the FIA R-GT Cup before the last round is very satisfying and it is also terrific to add Tour de Corse to our team’s list of victories. This rally looms large in Porsche folklore, after Therier’s memorable win here three decades ago. We’re proud to have written a new chapter in Porsche rally heritage.”
Delecour’s Magical Porsche Year
“What a place to win a rally and an FIA series,” said François Delecour. “My dream was to bring Porsche back to the WRC and let fans of modern WRC see how exciting rally used to be. This year with Tuthill Porsche has been a huge challenge, but the team is really born to rally, so we fit together perfectly.
“Tour de Corse is magical: everything a great rally should be. It is fast, spectacular, beautiful and completely unforgettable, just like our Porsche R-GT. Thanks to Richard Tuthill and his hard-working team, my co-drivers Dominique and Sabrina and all the great fans of rallying who have made this year one of my favourites. I am so happy to win the R-GT Cup: it is just a dream come true.”
The final outing for François Delecour in the Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT rally car as part of the 2015 R-GT Cup is on Switzerland’s Rallye du Valais from October 28-31.