After a month’s break, the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship season heads to Corsica for the 2016 Tour de Corse – Rallye de France.
The tenth round of the 2016 WRC season is the start of three consecutive rallies within a two-week gap of each other.
Known as “The Rally of 10,000 Corners”, the Tour de Corse – Rallye de France is one of the toughest asphalt rallies of the year due to the stages being held on twisty, mountainous roads.
The Tour de Corse only came back onto the WRC calendar last year after a five-year absence to which, the Rallye de France was held in the Alsace region of Eastern France from 2010-2014.
Who leads the Drivers’ Standings Pre-Tour de Corse?
With 100 points to play for, including 12 Power Stage points for the last four rallies, its pivotal that teams and drivers rack up the points before the season concludes in Australia in November.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier currently leads the WRC Drivers’ Standings on 169 points, 59 points ahead of his nearest rival and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen in second place on 110 points.
It’s all change between third, fourth and fifth places in the Drivers’ Standings as Hyundai Motorsport’s Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville are third and fourth with 94 points after Neuville finished on the podium last time out in Germany.
While Jari-Matti Latvala endured a disappointing Rallye Deutschland in August to languish down in fifth for Volkswagen, five points behind the Hyundai duo of Paddon and Neuville.
The third and final Hyundai of Dani Sordo is sixth after his excellent second place in August’s Rallye Deutschland. M-Sport’s Mads Østberg is seventh, while DMACK’s Ott Tänak is eighth.
Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Craig Breen complete the top ten in the Drivers’ Standings pre-Tour de Corse.
Could Latvala claim a third consecutive win in France?
Jari-Matti Latvala is the man to beat on the twisty French stages, winning the last two years in Alsace and Corsica. After his disappointment in Germany, the Finn is a contender for another victory in France.
Latvala’s team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who has only won on the Rallye de France – Alsace rally in 2011 and 2013, has never won in Corsica. Last year, the Frenchman finished way down in fifteenth, fourteen places behind rally winner Latvala.
Could 2016 be the year that the three-times World Rally Champion from Gap breaks his Tour de Corse duck? But there’s even bigger permutations underlying Ogier this weekend.
Ogier’s routes to a possible fourth World Rally Championship in a row
Sébastien Ogier is on course for a fourth consecutive World Rally Championship in a row, but the Frenchman could wrap up the championship with three rounds to spare with a win at the Tour de Corse this weekend.
Here are the possible routes that Ogier could take to claim a fourth consecutive World Rally Championship:
Ogier wins in France, but Mikkelsen fails to finish (Ogier becomes 2016 World Rally Champion)
Ogier wins in France, but Mikkelsen is outside the top ten (Ogier becomes 2016 World Rally Champion)
Ogier finishes in the top three, but Mikkelsen wins in France (Ogier needs to win the next round in Spain to become the 2016 World Rally Champion)
Ogier finishes fifth or lower, but Mikkelsen is in the top three (Ogier needs to win in Spain to become the 2016 World Rally Champion)
Ogier and Mikkelsen fail to finish in France (Ogier must win in Spain and GB to become the 2016 World Rally Champion, while Mikkelsen scores a non-finish in Spain)
What must the rivals do to stop Ogier from claiming a fourth World Rally Championship?
While Sébastien Ogier can wrap up a fourth consecutive World Rally Championship in France this weekend, Ogier’s nearest rivals have a possible shot at clawing back the deficit on the Volkswagen driver this weekend.
Ogier’s nearest rival Andreas Mikkelsen is 59 points behind his French team-mate pre-Tour de Corse.
The Norwegian must finish eighth or better this weekend, as well as win on the Power Stage to keep his championship hopes alive and make Ogier wait to claim the 2016 WRC title in Catalunya in two weeks’ time depending on results.
The Hyundai duo of Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon are third and fourth in the Drivers’ Standings on 94 points each.
Both Neuville and Paddon must finish in the top two in Corsica and on the Power Stage if they are to mathematically stay in the WRC championship hunt and spoil Ogier’s championship celebrations.
Mikkelsen and Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has the most difficult challenge this weekend in Corsica. The Finn must drop no less than three points for the remaining four rallies to keep himself in contention for the 2016 World Rally Championship.
The 2016 edition of the Tour de Corse – Rallye de France officially starts on Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October 2016, with the pre-event Shakedown on Thursday 29 September 2016.