M-Sport’s three entrants in the WRC2 class each had varying degrees of success at the Tour de Corse.
The highest placed finisher was Teemu Suninen who finished second in WRC2 and eighth overall in the ecoboost–powered Ford Fiesta R5 with only former WRC frontrunner Andreas Mikkelsen getting the better of the Fin in the class.
Despite finishing the opening day one minute and ten seconds behind Mikkelsen after the first loop of stages, Suninen would go on not to just match the former VW man, but take four seconds out of his lead by the end of the rally and cement a fine second place in the WRC support category.
Suninen finished the 10-stage rally over three minutes ahead of Yohan Rossel in third and was happy with his result on the asphalt event. He said: “This has been a really good event for us and I’m really happy with our weekend. This has probably been my best ever performance on Tarmac. We’ve learnt a lot, and got better and better with every stage. I’m really happy with the car – it’s working totally at one with my mind – and I think we can be really pleased with the job we have done.”
Meanwhile, M-Sport debutant Pierre–Louis Loubet would take sixth position in WRC2 in his first event in both the car and for the Cumbrian-based team.
Loubet and co-driver Vincent Landais were hit with both brake and power-steering problems across the weekend but managed to hold onto sixth in the class and show solid pace across the ten stages.
The Frenchman said on the event: “It has been a good weekend for us. We lost a lot of time on the first day so we had no chance to challenge for the top results, but I am still happy. We set some good times yesterday and I have a good feeling with the car which is cool. Hopefully we can continue like this and keep getting better as the season goes on.”
Éric Camilli’s event meanwhile began in fantastic fashion and he looked set to take on Mikkelsen at the front of the field for the win. However, his rally turned into a disaster after clipping a bridge on stage three and breaking the suspension in the process.
Camilli had no option but to retire from the remainder of the day but would however again try to show his raw pace when the WRC2 front-runner returned to the tarmac stages the following morning after restarting under Rally 2 rules.
But again, more issues struck and while on course to set a quick time on stage seven, Camilli felt a loss of brakes and would again be unable to set a competitive time.
After curing the brake issue before the start of the penultimate stage of the rally, Camilli was now able to show exactly what he was capable of and completed the huge 53.78km stage over 15 seconds faster than any other crew in the class and would go on to finish eighth in class at the end of the rally.
Camilli was left wondering what might have been and said on the event: “We have had quite a lot of bad luck this weekend but we need to focus on the positives. Of course I am disappointed because I wanted to win, but the main thing is that our performance was good. We had the pace to challenge for victory this weekend, and when you’re going up against someone like Andreas Mikkelsen that is a very good thing! Now, we will focus on the next events and on turning our pace into some strong results.”
WRC2 is the main support class for the World Rally Championship and heads to Rally Argentina for round five between April 27-30.