M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin are hunting a Tour de Corse victory this weekend. Having shown rally-winning pace behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, the British pairing are just 4.5 seconds shy of the lead and determined to push for the win on tomorrow’s closing stages.
Locked in an intense battle with Ott Tänak, the two former team mates traded times throughout much of the day. The Estonian had the advantage over the morning loop, but Evans fought back in the afternoon – cutting Tänak’s lead through the second pass of Cap Corse (SS10) and regaining the top spot when the Estonian was forced to stop and change a puncture on the following speed test (SS11).
With Tänak dropping from the fight at the front, an old rivalry was reignited – Evans verses Neuville for the win once more. The Welshman had been quicker than the Belgian all weekend and had the upper hand going into the final stage (SS12), but that’s where Neuville came alive – posting the fastest time and snatching the lead in the process.
With just 4.5 second separating the battling duo, the stage is set for another thrilling final day – and Evans is hungry for another Fiesta victory!
In the sister Fiesta, Teemu Suninen and Marko Salminen continued to outperform a number of their vastly more experienced rivals. Despite having never experienced the Corsican stages with the power and performance of a world rally car, the Finns hold an impressive fifth place overall.
Intent on making it to the end of the rally unscathed, the pairing controlled their pace through the trickier sections, but were also able to show their speed through the cleaner sections – setting the third fastest time through the second pass of Désert des Agriates (SS11) this afternoon.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“I can say that 80 percent of the day has been brilliant, but obviously it didn’t quite go to plan on the last stage. We’re not too sure what happened, but the gap is only 4.5 seconds and Elfyn has been quicker than Thierry on a lot of the stages weekend.
“For sure Thierry isn’t going to give up without a fight, but neither are we. Elfyn wants this one and he has already proven that he and the Fiesta have the pace to take it. We’ve not made it easy for ourselves, but we’re in for another thrilling battle between these pair tomorrow.
“Teemu was also much happier today. He controlled his pace through the trickier sections, but where it was cleaner and safer to push we saw some really strong times from him. A third fastest time this afternoon will have given him the confidence he needs, and he’s also getting good experience for the future.”
Elfyn Evans (2nd) said:
“It had been a good day for us and the pace was really strong, so it was a real shame about that last stage. Honestly it was a bit of a shock to lose that much. We didn’t feel that we had a bad stage – maybe not a perfect stage – but to lose that much time was disappointing.
“But we have to forget about it now. Four and a half seconds isn’t too much and we can fight for that tomorrow. We know that we have the pace to win this rally, and that’s what we’ll be focused on. We came here to challenge for the win, and that’s what we plan to do.”
Teemu Suninen (5th) said:
“I think we can be quite happy with the day. We didn’t make any mistakes, and the driving started to be on a good level through the clean stages. There is still some work to do in places where there is a lot of gravel on the road, but this is only my first time here with this car and I need the experience.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2:56:50.0
2. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.5
3. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +44.8
4. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +49.9
5. Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:32.1
6. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:54.5
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:59.3
8. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:21.4