The toughest asphalt rally of the season lived up every bit to its promise. Once again, the Tour de Corse’s countless corners and unsettled weather provided the high number of spectators (both on the stages and in the service park at Bastia’s airport) with an exceptional show.
Some 70 percent of the competitive distance was new compared with 2015 and the event was also 20 percent longer, with a total distance of 1,170.40km including 390.92km divided into just 10 special stages. The fact that five of them exceeded 50km in length represented a particularly big challenge for the crews’ tyres.
Friday’s action took place in clear, warm conditions, but Saturday’s weather turned out to be more unsettled and rain effectively swept over SS7. Until that point, the drivers had exclusively run the hard-compound MICHELIN Pilot Spot H5, but some crews took the decision to carry two softer Pilot Sport S5s in the boot for Day 2’s afternoon loop just in case the showers proved heavy. Also available was the MICHELIN Pilot Sport FW2 (FW = Full Wet), a new tyre introduced at August’s Rallye Deutschland. It was designed for torrential rain but was not required either in Germany or Corsica.
“The 2016 du Tour de Corse-Rallye de France was the hardest asphalt rally of the year as far as tyres are concerned,” observed Jacques Morelli, the manager of Michelin’s FIA WRC programme. “Even so, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport H5 and S5 were a match for what was a very exacting challenge. The conditions were hot at times and the stages featured the island’s usual cocktail of non-stop corners and abrasive roads. The longer stages were particularly difficult but the wear-rates we noted on our partners’ cars confirmed the value and relevance of the work carried out on our asphalt range by Michelin Motorsport’s engineers. Our tyres delivered racing-style performance and allowed the crews to push at the pace they wanted to without having to be concerned about their strength or durability.”
The 2016 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France was won by Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) and the three-time world champion was clearly delighted at the finish. “Thanks to the consistency of my Michelin tyres, I was able to attack from start to finish without worrying about their longevity,” he reported. The French crew finished respectively 46.4s and 1m10s clear of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC).
The WRC2 battle was won by Britons Elfyn Evans/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5), ahead of the Czech Republic’s Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (SKODA Fabia R5), Frenchmen Yoann Bonato/Benjamin Boulloud (Citroën DS3 R5) and Julien Maurin/Olivier Ural (Skoda Fabia R5) who all contested the rally on MICHELIN Pilot
Sport R H2 (hard) and R S (soft) tyres.
Michelin’s staff for the 2016 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France: 20 people.
Michelin had 2,320 tyres for the 2016 Tour de Corse-Rallye de France (WRC: 732 / WRC2: 1,028 / Junior WRC: 560).
Sunday’s result in Corsica takes Michelin’s record in the FIA World Rally Championship to 299 wins… The next round in Spain (October 13-16) will be a mixed-surface asphalt/gravel event.