The Tour de Corse provided further drama on the third and final day, as Craig Breen and Scott Martin dropped back to fifth overall, losing out on fourth place by just a tenth of a second. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau made sure that Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT scored points with two of its C3 WRCs in France.
After Ajaccio and Bastia, the Tour de Corse headed for Porto-Vecchio on Sunday. The final leg consisted of just two stages: Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza (53.78km) and the Palombaggia Power Stage (10.42km).
Fifth at the start of the final day, Craig Breen was on good form for the longest stage of the rally. After setting the fastest time at the first two splits, he ended up third to move ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala.
Going into the Power Stage, it was difficult to predict the final positions in the top five. Although Thierry Neuville was clear out in front, Dani Sordo, Sebastien Ogier, Breen and Latvala were bunched together behind him, separated by less than twenty seconds.
On the Palombaggia Power Stage, Craig Breen set the third fastest time but he dropped back to fifth position, missing out on fourth overall by just a tenth of a second. The Irishman could take some consolation from securing three bonus points.
After rejoining under Rally2 rules, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau added to their experience in the Citroën C3 WRC. The crew made it to the finish, adding another six points to the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s tally in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
Competing in a DS 3 R5 as a reward for winning the Citroën Racing Trophy title last year, Yohan Rossel ended his home event on the podium in the WRC2. Tenth overall, the young Frenchman therefore scored his first ever World Championship point. Equally competing in a Citroën Racing-backed DS 3 R5, Simone Tempestini – the reigning FIA Junior Champion – finished fourth in the WRC2.
It had been a cruel blow to the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT on the Saturday that forced Kris Meeke to retire, at the end of SS6. Kris and Paul suffered an engine problem whilst leading the rally. However, the team remain positive as they have shown how well the Citroën C3 WRC performs on tarmac.
The FIA World Rally Championship heads back across the Atlantic for the next round, which will be held in Argentina on 27-30 April.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “We leave Corsica in a positive frame of mind, because the Citroën C3 WRC was the fastest car this weekend. Obviously, the race wasn’t the same after Kris Meeke retired. Craig Breen coped with the additional pressure, and fought well with drivers who have already won rallies at this level. He maintained his position and had an error-free rally. Stéphane Lefebvre made it to the end of the rally, meaning we scored more points than the team above us in the manufacturers’ standings. Congratulations also to Yohan Rossel for his podium in the WRC2.”
Craig Breen: “The conditions were ideal once again, with beautiful weather and magnificent roads. Obviously, it’s very frustrating to lose a position by only a tenth of a second, but that’s also why we love rallying! I have no regrets, because I tried my best on the Power Stage. I have to be pleased with the weekend. We didn’t make a single mistake and we held our own when fighting with drivers with a lot more experience than us. That bodes well for the future.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “We completed today’s final two speed tests looking to increase our knowledge of the car and the Corsican stages. We really enjoyed it and that helped to increase our confidence. We won’t be racing in Argentina, so I can’t wait for Rally de Portugal to come around. Last year, I really enjoyed competing at this event.”