Driving a privately entered ŠKODA FABIA R5, Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen are facing the winding and narrow roads of the 14 special stages for the very first time.
After two second places at Rally Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden, the Finnish crew is aiming for another good result in the WRC 2 Pro category, which would allow them to take the overall lead in the category.
Although they have a limited experience on pure asphalt rallies, Kalle Rovanperä and JonneHalttunen already last year proved their speed on tarmac roads. The Finns, who finished third overall in the WRC 2 championship of 2018, took a second place in the category at Rally Germany and won the gravel/tarmac mixed event in Spain. “The Tour de Corse is unique to any other asphalt rally. There are virtually no straights, but literally thousands of corners. Although I have never been on the island before, I want to achieve another good result there,” emphasizes Kalle Rovanperä.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek explains: “Although we are not officially present with ourfactory team at Tour de Corse, we nominated Kalle as point’s scorer for ŠKODA Motorsport in the WRC 2 Pro category. Therefore, he will be able to score in the WRC 2 Pro driver’s championshipas well. If he can manage a successful result on Corsica, he will be in a good position to fight for the title. Nevertheless, we should never forget that he is competing on the island for the first time. To win there, you not only need speed – endurance plays a significant role as well.”
In France, the ŠKODA FABIA R5 is the most popular rally car in the R5 category. At the French round of the World Rally Championship, young French talented driver Pierre-Louis Loubet and his co-driver Vincent Landais are a crew to watch in the R5 field. Russian crew Nikolay Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov won the FIA ERC U28 Junior Championship 2018 and are aiming for a top result on the Mediterranean island as well.
The rally France/Tour de Corse features a new layout this year. 14 stages with racing in total 347.51 kilometres against the stopwatch will bring the decision. The longest stage “Castagniccia”alone covers more than 47 kilometres. The rally starts on Thursday, 28 March, at 19h00 in the town of Porto-Vecchio in the southeast of the island. On Friday, 29 March, six stages with no opportunity for service in between are waiting for the teams, before they finally head to the service park close to the airport of Bastia. On Saturday (30 March), more than half of the competitive mileage of the whole rally has to be driven in the north of the island, before on Sunday (31 March) the final two stages will bring the decision. The winner will reach the podium in the village of Calvi at 15h00.
Text and photo: SKODA Motorsport