The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has completed its final preparations for the French round of the FIA World Rally Championship with this morning’s shakedown stage near Bastia. The Tour de Corse begins with a ceremonial start in Place St Nicolas this evening before the first stages take place on Friday.
Shakedown took place over a 5.45-kilometre test, typical of the twisting asphalt stages that Corsica is famous for. Given that there were damp and muddy conditions on the shakedown, with drier weather forecast for the rally, the focus was on final systems checks, rather than making major changes to the setups that were honed in pre-event testing.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“The main target for shakedown today was to check that all of the systems are working on the cars. While the shakedown stage was quite representative of what is to come on the rally, we had a lot of heavy rain yesterday, so the road became dirty quite quickly. To do a good time you needed to be one of the first cars on the stage, which we weren’t, so we are not worrying much about the times. The cars are working well and we have our setup ready for tomorrow, when we are expecting drier conditions. It is very easy to make the mistake of changing the setup based on a shakedown that is not exactly representative of the conditions you’re expecting in the rally. We had a really good pre-event test and we are trusting the knowledge and confidence we gained from that.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Shakedown was actually quite tough because there were damp conditions. There were a lot of cuts and with every passing car, there was more dirt coming onto the road and making it very slippery. We have focused more on the dry setup so the shakedown times were not very relevant for us. We know that the forecast for the rally is for it to be dry. The recce here was very tough, with nearly 1200 kilometres and so many corners to note, but now there is a chance to relax the mind before the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ begins tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Shakedown was pretty muddy. It has been raining and there is a lot of loose mud on the sides of the road. People were cutting a lot so that made the asphalt pretty slippery. Still, we can use the data if we get some wet stages during the rally. The car felt OK and it feels ready for the rally. This is definitely the asphalt rally that everyone wants to win: it’s the special one and the most challenging one. It’s a big challenge for the car, for the drivers and the co-drivers. If you have a good feeling you can enjoy it but you definitely need to have a good setup. We are prepared and ready to fight.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“The shakedown was quite OK, although the conditions made it quite tricky immediately from the first run. It was surprisingly muddy in places and getting worse and worse, but I hope that the rally will be a bit different. Generally, the car behaviour was OK: it was a little slippery but that could be down to the road surface. We had a really good pre-event test and I am quite confident that in dry conditions our car is very competitive. The first stage tomorrow is already a proper Corsica stage, almost 50 kilometres long, so you can’t just begin the rally on the safe side like you might normally. You need to push immediately, but you have to watch the tyre wear.”
The crews face a true Corsica test tomorrow morning with the 49-kilometre La Porta-Valle di Rostino stage kicking things off at 09:50. That is followed by Piedigriggio-Pont de Castirla, measuring 13.55 km, with both stages then repeated after mid-day service at Bastia Airport.
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