Julien Maurin heads in to the 2016 Tour de Corse – Rallye de France knowing he is the man to beat, having tasted victory 12 months previously at the 2015 edition in a Ford Fiesta R5.
The Frenchman has had a mixed year with a split programme between the French Gravel championship and WRC2 in his Skoda Fabia R5. In the national championship, Maurin has taken two class victories and two second places and currently leads the championship. In WRC2 luck has not been with him, a power steering failure put an end to the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo while an acciding in Germany took him out of the running last time out; a fifth place finish in Italy marks the highest finish from 5 WRC2 rallies this season.
With regular co-driver Olivier Ural unavilable due to personal reasons, Maurin’s original co-driver Gilles Thimonier returns for the first time since 2010.
“As always, I am happy to return to the Tour de Corse” says Maurin. “There is a certain expectation after the victory of last season, but especially synonymous with great motivation.”
“We want to do well and show our true level of performance. I am convinced that we have the right pieces of the puzzle to get a great result. The Skoda Fabia R5 is competitive and 2C Competition familiar too. We were able to prepare for this round, with tests on asphalt and participation in the Rallye de Corte.
“Beyond the first place, it allowed us to take our brand and put us in a good momentum. The objective is clearly to play in front despite a plate of incredible quality.”
With only 30% of the route for this years Tour de Corse remaining the same as the 2015 route, there will be a challenge for all competitors to learn again, especially with an addition of 20% distance to the rally.
“Many things have changed since last year, particularly in terms of the composition of the Tour of Corsica which has changed a lot. This does not displease me,” said Maurin. “It’s always interesting to have new, even if it does not make the challenge easier.
“There is however one point remains the same: I said there are twelve months it would avoid trouble as the rally is long and demanding. The Saturday is a good example. The first special Sunday is another with more than fifty kilometers. There will be no respite, it will bring together the qualities of a sprinter and an endurance driver. “