Neuville Wins in Corsica

Thierry Neuville took a dramatic WRC win for Hyundai on the Tour of Corsica as Elfyn Evans' M-Sport Fiesta suffered a puncture on the final stage after leading Neuville by 11.5 seconds heading into the Power Stage. This followed a stunning time earlier in the morning which allowed him to retake the lead he lost on Saturday. However, Evans picked up a front-right puncture on the final stage and dropped over a minute, plummeting to third overall.

Events then gifted Neuville his first win of the season and with it the championship lead, two points ahead of Sebastien Ogier who didn't win a single stage all weekend but came home a surprise second overall for Citroen. The Frenchman had never been particularly happy with the feeling of his C3 despite trying several different suspension set-ups, but kept out of trouble and snuck his way up the leaderboard to score second.

Evans had hit the front as early as stage one, leading Toyota's Ott Tanak after Friday's action. Tanak fought back on Saturday, edging into the lead by lunchtime before his challenge unravelled on SS11 when he picked up a puncture and lost two minutes meaning the Toyota driver eventually finished sixth, dropping him first to third in the championship.

Dani Sordo was fourth for Hyundai, having taken a sole stage win on the mammoth 30-mile Castagniccia test. He had been running ahead of Ogier for much of the rally only for his brakes to fade on Sunday morning. Teemu Suninen did exactly what was asked of him by his M-Sport Ford team and finished the rally without incident, ending up fifth overall.

Citroen's Esapekka Lappi was frustrated all weekend as he struggled to get on top of an ill-handling C3 WRC. However, the Finn made no mistakes and bagged seventh place for his efforts. Nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb's rally was almost over before it begun, as he slid wide into a kerb on the opening stage. The Hyundai driver lost two minutes as he limped through the test with a broken rear steering arm. Loeb recovered to eighth, surviving a spin on Saturday morning when he understeered into a ditch.

Kris Meeke's pace promised a much stronger finish than ninth, but he was another to lose time as early as stage one. The Briton cut a corner and immediately wrecked the front-left tyre on his Toyota, and then made the same mistake against a kerb but saved his tyres on Sunday morning to allow him a scorching run on the Power Stage to earn him five extra championship points. Jari-Matti Latvala had a disappointing weekend, with two punctures on Friday and Saturday harming his cause. The Toyota driver ended up 10th, over a minute-and-a-half behind teammate Meeke.

Final results:
Pos Driver/Co-driver Car Time/Gap
1. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe 3:22'59.0
2. Sťbastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia CitroŽn C3 40.3
3. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin Ford Fiesta 1'06.6
4 . Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio Hyundai i20 Coupe 1'18.4
5. Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen Ford Fiesta 1'24.6
6. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja Toyota Yaris 1'40.0
7. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm CitroŽn C3 2'09.1
8. Sťbastien Loeb/Daniel Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe 3'39.2
9. Kris Meeke/Sebastian Marshall Toyota Yaris 5'06.3
10. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila Toyota Yaris 6'44.6

Drivers Championship Positions
1. Thierry Neuville 82
2. Sebastien Ogier 80
3. Ott Tanak 77
4. Elfyn Evans 43
5. Kris Meeke 42
6. Esapekka Lappi 26
7. Sebastien Loeb 22
8. Dani Sordo 16
9. Jari-Matti Latvala 15
10. Teemu Suninen 14

Manufacturer Championship
1. Hyundai Shell Mobis 114
2. Citroen Total 112
3. Toyota Gazoo 98
4. M-Sport Ford 70

31st March, 2019

Neuville Leads as Tanak Punctures in Corsica

Thierry Neuville takes a lead of 4.5 seconds over Elfyn Evans into Sunday of the Tour of Corsica. Ott Tanak had led the rally heading into the afternoon ahead of Evans, with Neuville 17.2s behind. Evans started the afternoon with intent, trimming World Rally Championship points leader Tanaks 2.3s advantage down to 1.6s on the first stage of the loop, Cap Corse. The pairs epic battle was cut short however when Tanaks Toyota stopped in the middle of SS11 with a punctured tyre and the Estonian lost over two minutes to stage winner Neuville and plummeted from first to seventh - recovering to sixth place by the end of the day.

Neuville had begun to drift away slightly from Tanak and Evans ahead of him throughout Saturday, but smelled blood when Tanak hit trouble and put in a sublime performance to beat Evans by 16 seconds on the final stage, turning a 11.5s deficit into a 4.5s to set up a dramatic finish on Sunday. World champion Ogier momentarily lost the anti-lag in his C3 on the final stage of the day which caused him significant distraction, but the Frenchman still manged to pass Dani Sordo to end the day third after starting it in sixth. Sordo dropped 19.5s to Ogier in the 30 miles of Castagniccia to trail by 5.1s overall, lamenting his speed in the second pass of the stage he won in the morning.

Teemu Suninen was rejuvenated in the afternoon after dropping from fifth to sixth in the morning, the M-Sport driver struggled to make any ground on Ogier and Sordo ahead of him but crucially kept his car on the road. He is now fifth after Tanaks problems. Esapekka Lappi continues to work on optimising the set-up of his Citroen in seventh. Sebastien Loeb, in eighth place, was unhappy with changes he had made to his Hyundai at midday service, complaining of understeer. Kris Meeke enjoyed his afternoon as he continues to hold ninth overall in his Toyota, avoiding any drama in stark contrast to his Friday.

Jari-Matti Latvala picked up his second puncture of the weekend on the penultimate stage of the day, almost understeering into the undergrowth before stopping to change it. The Finn admitted it was his mistake as he was trying to push but cut a corner and destroyed his tyre. Despite this setback, Latvala is still 10th.

The final stage of the day was red-flagged after Eric Camillis Volkswagen Polo R5 caught on fire. Camilli had lost his WRC2 lead in the morning but was hunting down Fabio Andolfi for the class lead.

30th March, 2019

Tanak takes control in Corsica

After day one of Rally France - Tour of Corsica, Ott Tanak has established an early lead, but only 1.3 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans. Not particularly happy with his driving on the opening stage, Tanak responded by taking the lead on stage two courtesy of a second fastest time through the test before taking his first stage win of the rally to conclude the morning at the head of the pack in his Toyota.

M-Sport driver Evans was the quickest man on the opening stage by almost three seconds but dropped behind Tanak's Toyota on stage two and then lost a further 0.7s on stage three but heads to the midday tyre-fitting zone in a confident mood, admitting he wasn't surprised with his pace.

Thierry Neuville was frustrated with the handling of his Hyundai i20, but lies third overall after a consistent morning, just 3.5s behind the rally leader. Neuville was embroiled in a close battle with teammate Dani Sordo for the final podium place, holding a 4.1s advantage over the Spaniard, who is fourth.

Teemu Suninen is fifth overall for M-Sport ahead of compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala, who was frustrated with his pace notes that were "too slow" for the Corsican stages. The two Citroen drivers were expected to be the pace-setters in Corsica, but both Rally Mexico winner Sebastien Ogier and teammate Esapekka Lappi suffered spins throughout the morning.

Lappi was fifth heading into stage three but has fallen to seventh, spinning his C3 on the exit of a hairpin half-way through the third test. Ogier made a similar mistake on the morning's opening stage. The defending champion struggled for pace thereafter, not happy with the set-up in his Citroen C3, and finds himself 24s behind the rally leader and one second behind his teammate in eighth.

Kris Meeke was fastest on stage two and just 0.5s shy of teammate Tanak on stage three, but is down in ninth after a puncture on the opening stage. Meeke had made an error on the recce and had a "keep in" instruction in his pace notes, but the fast left-hander bit back and punctured the front-left tyre of his Yaris.

The returning Sebastien Loeb was another to suffer drama on stage one, dropping just under two minutes after breaking a steering arm on his Hyundai i20 and then sliding wide on a left hander, damaging the right-rear corner and forcing him to carrying out urgent repairs immediately after the stage. As a result, the nine-time champion dropped to 49th place but has since recovered to 14th.

30th March, 2019

Tom Cave wins Exciting West Cork Rally

IRDC member Tom Cave took his first four wheel drive British Rally Championship win on the West Cork Rally 16 & 17 March. With co driver James Morgan, Cave won the event by 4.8 seconds in their Hyundai i20 R5 from reigning champion Matt Edwards Ford Fiesta R5 in second, with defending Irish Tarmac champion Josh Moffett Ford Fiesta R5 rounded out the podium. This win was the first BRC win for the Korean manufacturer Hyundai since David Higgins in 2004.

The Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally formed the second round of the BRC for the very first time and the event provided two days and over 200km of exciting rallying action. On some of the most iconic roads in Irish rallying, the weather also provided a formidable challenge as a wet and slippery first day was coupled with a flat out blast on bone dry asphalt on the second.

FIA World Rally Championship regulars Craig Breen and Paul Nagle took a comfortable overall win on the rally, but it was the fight in Britains premier rallying series that kept everyone on the edge of their seats right until the end. Defending Irish Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett with Keith Moriarty on the notes were quickest out the blocks, making their aspirations very clear and over the course of the opening five stages pulled out a 14.4 second lead. However, driveshaft woes forced them into two wheel drive on stage six, dropping them down to third and out of the leading battle.

Desi Henry was another driver keen to make his mark but unfortunately, he and navigator Liam Moynihan crashed out of second place on the first loop of stages in their Skoda Fabia R5, thankfully both were unhurt. Up stepped 2018 British Rally Champion and series leader Matt Edwards and co driver Patrick Walsh in their Pirelli supported Ford Fiesta R5. The Welsh crew were building the pace as the opening day unfolded and went into the overnight halt with a slender lead over Tom Cave.

Going into the final day, the two Welsh crews fought for the BRC win. Cave woke up in an inspired mood to go eight seconds quicker than Edwards and leap frogged the M Sport star in the process. The tussle for victory was to be a seesaw affair as the duo traded times and positions all afternoon with only 4.9 seconds going into the final stage.

Despite Edwards best effort, Cave was to be too strong this weekend and he and James Morgan won the BRC section of the event by 4.8 seconds to take their first BRC win together. After coming so close to an event win in recent times, Tom was elated at the finish. Matt Edwards did all he could, but a strong second place stretches his championship lead going into the Pirelli International Rally, an event he won last year. Josh Moffetts rhythm was effected after his driveshaft issues, but did enough to round out the final rostrum position.

BRC Championship Positions after two rounds
1. Matt Edwards 43
2. Marty McCormack 27
3. David Bogie 26
4. Tom Cave 25
5. Josh Moffett 25
6. Desi Henry 12
7. Jonny Greer 10
8. Meirion Evans 8

18th March, 2019

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