Andrea Crugnola and Michele Ferrara demonstrated the impressive pace of Clio R3T in Corsica but were unable to fight for the win after picking up a puncture. The Renault Sport Technologies-supported crew finished sixth to score the points needed to keep their hopes alive of ending the season as runners-up in the WRC 3. That will be their goal when they tackle Rally Catalunya later this month.
Clio R3T matches the pace of the leaders
On its return to the World Rally Championship calendar, the Tour de Corse served up a challenging contest for the drivers and teams. The torrential rain and storms that battered the island on Thursday and Friday significantly disrupted the opening leg, with one of the three scheduled stages cancelled. Given the conditions, Andrea Crugnola and Michele Ferrara made a cautious start to the race. On slippery, wet roads, covered with streams of mud and debris, the Italian pairing kept their Clio R3T on the road, ending day one in the top five and aiming to up their pace on Saturday.
However, after SS4 was cancelled, Andrea Crugnola’s plans were unfortunately dashed when he picked up a puncture at the start of SS5. Despite dropping three minutes behind the leader, he retained his motivation and tried to make up the lost ground. He ended the leg with the third fastest time in the WRC 3 on SS6. The following day, he showed the speed of the Clio R3T, setting the fourth fastest time on SS7 before winning the final two stages of the rally. He therefore finished sixth in the WRC 3 category at this year’s Tour de Corse, keeping his hopes alive of ending the season as overall runner-up if he secures a good result in Catalonia.
“I have mixed feelings," admitted Andrea Crugnola. “On the one hand, I’m very pleased to have demonstrated the excellent pace of Clio R3T, by setting very good times on some of the stages. On the other hand, I’m disappointed for the entire team because the puncture ruined our plans for the weekend. I don’t think I hit anything but we ended up losing a lot of time. The title is now out of our reach, but I hope I can finish as high as possible in the WRC 3.”
“I suppose frustration is the word that best describes the feeling,” said Sylvain Alanore, Renault Sport Technologies’ Team Manager. “We had prepared very well for the rally and had made a good start. The puncture came out of nowhere. It left us struggling, losing over two minutes. Despite that, Andrea drove very well afterwards and then won two stages. The speed is certainly there, but we were just a bit short on luck. A podium finish in the WRC 3 is still within our grasp. We’ll be going to Catalonia with that in mind, hoping to end the season in style and make a strong impression.”
Clio R3T European Trophy
The Tour de Corse was also part of the Clio R3T European Trophy calendar, for the France and International categories. In the France Trophy, the battle for victory between the top two lasted all weekend, but ultimately Marvin Sorin prevailed, finishing eleven seconds ahead of Benoît Vaillant. Benoit, leader of the France Trophy, secured a place alongside Marvin Sorin in the finale at the 2016 Rallye Monte-Carlo. In the International category, Eric Filippi took the honours, beating Benoît Boulanger and Yannick Wendling by some distance. The crews could be satisfied to have made it to the end of the rally despite the extremely difficult conditions.
WRC 3 standings after the Tour de Corse
1. Quentin Gilbert 100 points (5 results)
2. Ole Christian Veiby 75 (5 results)
3. Simone Tempestini 62 (5 results)
4. Andrea Crugnola 60 (5 results)
5. Henri Haapamaki 48 (3 results) …