Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have made it through the challenging opening day of the French WRC round, Tour de Corse, to hold 11th position. The opening day of the rally has just three stages scheduled, and with incredibly wet conditions overnight and during the day, stage two was cancelled due to storm debris littering the narrow, twisty asphalt roads.
Paddon does not have much experience on damp tarmac conditions so adopted a careful approach to the start of his first Tour de Corse. Despite a slow leaking puncture and a big moment in the second stage (SS3) which was run in dry conditions, the Kiwi fared well to finish eighth in stage. He’s just outside the top ten overall.
Paddon said: “It’s been a very demanding day for our first day in Corsica. It was very slippery this morning and I don’t have much experience driving in conditions like that, so I didn’t have any confidence. I just adapted my driving accordingly to get the car to the end of the stage. That stage gave us a base on which to build. The afternoon stage, after the cancellation of SS2, started well but after one kilometre we hit a rock and damaged a wheel. We had a bad vibration after that and were very lucky later on when we were close to a sheer drop. It was a heart in the mouth moment, so I was just pleased to make it to the end of the day. We have more to learn here and, conditions prevailing, we will look to make improvements tomorrow.”
The return of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) to Corsica has been met with torrential weather as heavy rain hampered running on the opening day of this year’s Tour de Corse.
Just two of the day’s three scheduled stages were able to run with treacherous roads forcing the cancellation of SS2 (43.69km Casamozza – Ponte Leccia) and making life difficult for drivers in the two other stages.
In the first WRC Tour de Corse since 2008, the tricky tarmac conditions resulted in mixed results for the Hyundai i20 WRCs. Kevin Abbring ended the day as the top Hyundai Motorsport driver in second place overall, just 18.7s off the rally lead, after two trouble-free stages for the Dutchman.
Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon completed both stages, although not without incident, and finished Friday in 11th and 14th overall, while Thierry Neuville clipped a bridge just 1.2km into the first stage and was forced to retire.
Saturday’s itinerary sees competitors face three stages covering 128.58km. Friday afternoon’s cancelled test begins the action and is followed by a repeat of the final SS3 and a monster 48.46km stage, the longest of the event.