Meeke leads after day 1 of Tour de Corse


Kris Meeke put in a dominant performance as he leads at the end of day one of the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse.

The Citroen driver won three of the day’s four stages to hold a 10.3 seconds lead over M-Sport’s Sébastien Ogier.

There was more delight for the French manufacturer as Craig Breen holds fourth place at the end of the day.

Ogier managed to win stage three, but only managed to knock 0.8 seconds off Meeke, who had to slow as he passed Ott Tanak’s Fiesta WRC which had crashed into a ditch.

“I enjoyed it,” Meeke said.

“The car’s working fantastic. Thanks to my team for the hard work we put in during the test. A good start, but there’s a long way to go.”

Yet the Northern Irishman wasn’t But you’re always wary of Seb because he never gives up. I’m comfortable in my pace. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Despite not feeling completely comfortable with the car, Ogier holds a 15 second gap over third place Thierry Neuville.

The Hyundai driver  admitted to being nervous before the start of the event, perhaps keeping in mind what happened on Monte Carlo.

His nerves weren’t settled by admitting to over driving on the last stage of the day, yet he was third fastest on each of the day’s stages.

Dani Sordo rounded out the top five but yet again their team-mate Hayden Paddon cut a frustrated figure.

Despite his successful pre-rally preparation, the Kiwi was off the pace, struggling with grip which may have explained swiping a rock-face in stage three.

The New Zealander ends the day seventh, 1 minute 18 seconds off the lead.

Paddon’s problems with grip was shared by Elfyn Evans in the DMACK Fiesta.

Yet Evans main issue of the day was a hydraulic problem which first occured in stage two.

With no mid-day service to cure the problem, the Welshman had to limp through the rest of the day.

This cost him more than six minutes, leaving him down in 18th place.

The new Toyota Yaris WRC had a difficult introduction to tarmac.

Team leader Jari-Matti Latvala had an uneventful day in the Yaris, which was not showing any of the pace it showed on the Monte.

Yet he ended the day in sixth place.

His team-mate Juho Hanninen retired on the first stage after clouting a bridge which lead to part of his Toyota catching fire, which was quickly put out.

In WRC2 Andreas Mikkelsen in his second guest drive for Skoda holds a gap of 20 seconds at the front of the leaderboard.

Éric Camilli in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 had been five seconds behind the former VW driver after the first two stages, but retired on stage three after hitting a bridge.

Mikkelsen’s team-mate Jan Kopecky had to drive most of the day with a broken steering rack.

Unable to fix the problem due to the lack of a service park, the Czech driver lost nearly 10 minutes and is currently ninth in class.

All this means that Mikkelsen’s closest challenger is Toyota WEC racer, Stéphane Sarrazin‘s Skoda and M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen, who is a minute behind the Norwegian in third.

In WRC3 Raphael Astier hold a dominant lead in his Peugeot 208 R2 who was the only category runner to emerge unscathed from day one.

His nearest challengers are the first of the Junior World Rally Championship runners, with Spaniard Nil Solans just 14 seconds behind the Frenchman.

He in turn holds a 23 second advantage over Frenchman Terry Folb with Belgian youngster William Wagner rounding out the podium, all three driving Ford Fiesta R2s.

In the RGT Trophy, current Le Mans 24 Hour winner Romain Dumas holds the advantage in his private duel with former Tour de Corse winner Francois Delecour.

The Porsche 911 driver currently has a 3 minute 30 second gap over his Fiat rival.