The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team enjoyed an encouraging first day of stages on the Tour de Corse. Ott Tänak holds fourth overnight and is firmly in the fight for second, while Esapekka Lappi is fifth following a superb stage win on the final test of the day. Jari-Matti Latvala is close behind in eighth place having improved his feeling aboard the Toyota Yaris WRC during the day.
The first day of the French island event featured just four stages. In his first full asphalt event in the Yaris WRC, Tänak made a strong start, going third quickest on the 49-kilometre opening stage, La Porta-Valle di Rostino. He ended the day just 5.5 seconds behind third place, and within 10.6s of second place.
Lappi had a strong first day competing on Corsica’s twisting stages in a World Rally Car, impressing over the two runs of the quick Piedigriggio-Pont de Castirla test. He was second in the morning pass and then fastest on the repeat, a performance that gained him two positions on the leaderboard to end the day fifth. Latvala was joint second quickest on the same stage, confirming the improvements he made to his car’s setup in mid-day service.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Today ended with quite a positive feeling after a not such a great start. The final stage was particularly good for us. Esapekka did a very good job to win that stage given he is still very inexperienced here. Jari-Matti was also looking much better, while Ott is in quite a good position and very close to the podium places. It seems that the drivers are feeling better on the wider, faster roads. Tomorrow is a different day and we will keep working hard. I am confident there are still some things we can do to improve.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It was good to finish today with a quick time on the last stage, after quite a disappointing morning. I went the wrong way with the setup, so I lacked confidence and I was driving badly. We made changes in service and the car definitely felt better on the braking and the rear was more predictable. I made another change before the final stage, and then the confidence came and I could improve my driving. The setup is now good for the dry conditions that we are expecting for the rest of the rally, so the plan now is to just focus on the driving: to be consistent and maintain that speed we had on the last stage. I think we can have a good fight with the guys who are just in front of us.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“This was my first day competing on proper asphalt in this car, and I think we have learned quite a lot today. The general feeling in the car is quite nice. This morning the feeling was already positive: the car was handling well. At lunchtime service we did a couple of changes, and in some areas the feeling was improving and getting better. For tomorrow we have some more ideas of how we would like to improve a bit further to help us in the fight for the podium. We are still quite close to second and third: these places are ours to catch, so we will try our best tomorrow.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“The morning and afternoon were quite similar for me today in terms of stage times. We lost quite a bit on the long stage, which is really twisty like a proper Tour de Corse stage. The shorter one is much faster and our car was working really well there. We ended the day with the fastest time, which is always positive. It would be better if we were stronger on the more twisty stages, but we will work on that tomorrow and try to improve the car. The plan will be to try and keep fifth place but there is still a long way to go and anything can happen.”
End of day one(Friday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h19m39.0s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +33.6s
3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +38.7s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +44.2s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m13.5s
6 Elfyn Evans/Phil Mills (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m13.8s
7 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m14.4s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m25.0s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m29.2s
10 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m44.8s
(Results as of 20:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tomorrow consists of three stages each run twice, with the action focused on Corsica’s northern coast. The cars will leave service at Bastia Airport from 06:25 in the morning to head to the 35.61-kilometre Cagnano-Pino-Canari stage, beginning at 07:37. That’s followed by Désert des Agriates and Novella, with all three stages then repeated following mid-day service.
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