Tour de Corse : CitroŽn / JWRC - Finish
This weekend's Tour de Corse saw Brice Tirabassi/Jacques-Julien Renucci and their CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 clinch victory in the JWRC classification after a dramatic finale to the event's third and final leg.
"U peghju hŤ passatu
dumani farŗ ghjornu!" These were the words of Brice Tirabassi's Corsican codriver Jacques-Julien Renucci on Saturday evening after a particularly incident-packed day for a good many JWRC runners. It was the local way of saying "tomorrow will be another day," and how right that turned out to be....
Given the gaps after Sunday's opening loop of two stages Ė 'Pťnitencier Coti Chiavari-Pietra Rossa' and 'Pont de Calzola -Agosta Plage' which totalled approximately 60km Ė only Julien Pressac and Gilles de Turckheim still looked to have a chance of moving up the leaderboard and perhaps even join their teammates Brice Tirabassi and Jacques -Julien Renucci on the podium.
The day's first two tests had effectively seen the CitroŽn youngster close to within 44.4 seconds of 3rd place and he was understandably fired up as he set off for the final loop. The French crew's second attempt at 'Pťnitencier Coti Chiavari-Pietra Rossa' enabled them to halve the gap that separated them from their predecessor. Exactly 31.81km of against-the-clock action remained after that and all attention turned to the split times of the Nį42 CitroŽn C2 Super 1600.
Suddenly, however, Brice Tirabassi's name appeared at the top of the standings at the end of the stage when mechanical troubles for Urmo Aava, who had led the JWRC classification since Kris Meeke's untimely retirement the previous evening, handed a last-minute win to Brice Tirabassi and Jacques-Julien Renucci. The French pair was understandably delighted to find themselves once more on the highest step of a JWRC podium. "Luck is part of our sport and, true, we benefited from some good luck today. That said, we were never out of the JWRC top-three here in Corsica and that's a great confidence booster for our next outing in Sardinia," concluded the extremely relieved Frenchman.
One question still remained however: would Julien Pressac succeed achieve his goal after a final thrust in the closing kilometres of the 50th Tour de Corse? Unfortunately, his bid for a place on the podium was destined to fail by a mere 3 seconds, but the JWRC rookie was feeling particularly positive at the finish. "On the spur of the moment, getting so near to the target that we had set ourselves this morning was very frustrating, but I will above all remember this event for the extra experience it has brought us. It was a difficult rally but once again we learnt so much, both technically and on the driving front. Our principal objective was to get as many kilometres under our belt as possible and that's exactly what we did. And that promises to be very important for the rest of the year."
The Mediterranean island event again confirmed the high performance potential of the CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 that was seen a fortnight ago in Catalunya. "That said, we need to solve the engine problem that stopped Kris Meeke's car this weekend as quickly as possible," says CitroŽn Sport Customer Competition Technical Manager Alexis Avril.
"Reliability needs to be one of our strengths and not a destabilising factor," echoes CitroŽn Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton. "But I have every confidence in our technical squad and, with two wins on asphalt already in hand, we are now looking forward to moving on to gravel with the CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 and finally facing all our main rivals in the title chase head on. I think we can look forward to some excellent fights."
Press release Citroen