Tom Kristensson continues consistent FIA Junior WRC Championship success after over 120 kilometres of competitive stages on the opening day of Tour de Corse.
Jan Solans drew first blood on SS1 as he opened up an impressive six-second advantage on his favourite surface of the Junior WRC Championship.
The success was short-lived when a puncture cost him over two minutes on SS2, handing Kristensson the stage win and class lead.
Kristensson’s day was by no means easy as the likes of Julius Tannert, Dennis Rådström and Martins Sesks were within 20 seconds of the lead.
Tour de Corse claimed its first Junior WRC victim on SS2 as the crew of Sean Johnston and Alex Kihurani ploughed into a rock face and rolled the car off the edge of the road. The impact was largely broken by trees that caught the car from falling further. The EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2T did its job in protecting the drivers who emerged unscathed.
Latvian Martins Sesks was looking forward to a competitive event but all hopes of this were shattered in seconds as he went skating off the road on SS3 leading the car to a steep drop and very sudden stop. Sesks and co-driver Krisjanis Caune exited the car uninjured.
At the time of writing, neither Sesks’s or Johnston’s cars have returned to the service park and it is not possible for M-Sport to accurately determine if it is possible for Johnston or Sesks to restart the rally.
Ken Torn suffered engine trouble towards the end of the day and despite completing SS6, the Estonian withdrew from the rally on the road section. Until his car returns to the service park it is not yet clear if the Estonian will restart the rally on Saturday.
After the chaos of SS 2 and 3, Kristensson had two stage wins to his name with Jan Solans finishing SS3 just 2.3 seconds behind despite driving the stage with an open boot. Tannert was sitting in second overall after SS3 with Rådström and Raul Badiu in third and fourth respectively.
Kristensson soon began adopting his ingenious ‘calm and consistent’ approach after SS3, posting top-five times and doing all he needed to maintain his lead. Tannert and rookie Solans were on the attack for the remaining three stages. A fired up Solans was unbeatable in section two snatching a hattrick of stage wins on his way to fourth. Tannert managed to close Kristensson’s lead down to just 0.9 seconds in second while Rådström remained in third position 18.4 seconds off the lead.
The FIA Junior WRC Championship Tour de Corse action continues on Saturday 30 with a gruelling 174.5 competitive kilometres across six stages.
Tom Kristensson said:
“This rally is incredible. The intensity and pace is something I have never experienced before and this is a truly legendary event. I am really happy with how we are progressing at the moment, we are finishing the stages and keeping the car on the road which is my main aim and is what allowed me to win in Sweden. The goal is still simple: finish every stage. As we have already seen, mistakes can be costly here and if you are not on the road, you stand zero chance of winning or scoring points.”
TOUR DE CORSE CLASSIFICATION, SECTION TWO:
1. Tom Kristensson / Henrik Appelskog 2. Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl + 00:00.9 3. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson + 00:18.6 4. Jan Solans / Mauro Barreiro + 01:57.1 5. Tom Williams / Phil Hall + 02:08.8 6. Roland Poom / Ken Jarveoja + 02:12.6 7. Raul Badiu / Gabriel Lazar + 02:31.2 8. Nico Knacker / Tobias Braun + 03:56.7 9. Enrico Oldrati / Elia de Guio + 04:18.1 10. Fabrizio Zaldivar / Fernando Mussano + 04:39.4 11. Ken Torn / Kauri Pannas + 15:48.9 12. Martins Sesks / Krisjanis Caune + 27:56.1 13. Sean Johnston / Alex Kihurani + 34:50.0