Saturday, 3 October 2015

Rally - Evans Leads

Singing and Dancing in the rain ... The Tour de Corse leader board had a strange look to it at the en d of Day 1 with M-Sport World Rally Team's Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt sensationally leading the rally by 18 seconds from  young Kevin Abbring in the Hyindai and VW’s Latvala in third place.

Evans had no prior experience of the event's unique roads and set the sixth fastest time through the opening speed test before SS2 was cancelled due to heavy rain fall. With only 1 stage remaining he set the fastest time, some 30 seconds faster than his rivals.

Team mate Ott Tänak struggled in the treacherous conditions and finished the day in 11th position but it’s also worth noting that Robert Kubica was in SS1, in his new-evolution Fiesta RS WRC.

Elfyn said: "It's a great feeling to be leading my first rally – albeit a bit surprising! When we got to the [SS3] stage end I said to Dan [Barritt, co-driver] that we'd not had a good run but we were very clean and tidy and didn't waste any time so that obviously worked well for us. The information we had from the gravel crew was really consistent with what we actually saw on the stage itself so a big thanks to them because I'm sure that went some way to setting the time we did. The guys behind will be pushing hard tomorrow, but with the Welsh rugby team doing such a fantastic job last night I guess the pressure is on me to continue that trend!"

Ott Tänak added: "It's been a really tough day – there is so much water and gravel on the road so it's really difficult to find a good rhythm. It's certainly possible to go fast as Elfyn [Evans] has shown with some pretty impressive style this afternoon, but I just don't have the confidence to do that at the moment.”

Malcolm Wilson said: "This has been one of the most historic days for the M-Sport World Rally Team. For everyone to witness Elfyn pull off such an impressive performance on the final stage [of the day, SS3] was a massive boost – proving that we have all the tools at our disposal to be leading a world rally championship event. We all know how much potential Elfyn has and he has proven that today. His time on the last stage was nothing short of phenomenal and he thoroughly deserves the lead he holds this evening. He's done Wales proud, and he's done the team extremely proud.”

Things weren’t quite so good in the French camp with Kris Meeke completing the two stages in 8th place and DS3 team mate Ostberg in 4th.

Pre-rally weather forecasts suggested that bad weather was on its way and they were right. The entire island was hit by heavy storms and flash floods, especially in the north and the east. The roads were awash with puddles and rocks which caused the longest stage of the day (SS2) to be cancelled.

At the end of it, Kris Meeke said: “I have to be pleased to have made it to the end of the first day. SS3 is certainly the most difficult stage that I have ever tackled. There was running water and debris everywhere on the road. Towards the end, however, some sections were beginning to dry out. Our gravel crews did a fantastic job, their help was invaluable today. Anything can happen on this rally, because there‘s still a long way to go.”

Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo both punctured tyres in the third stage.

Leaderboard After Day 1:

1. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 46:48.5
2. Kevin Abbring / (Hyundai i20 WRC) +18.7
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +22.9
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +38.8
5. Robert Kubica / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +40.3
6. Stéphane Sarrazin / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +43.1
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +44.5
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +47.0
9. Bryan Bouffier / (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:04.8...
10. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:13.2

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