MSA Academy team member Phil Hall made a successful return to the FIA World Rally Championship last week, guiding fellow Brit David White to an impressive 45th overall at the Tour de Corse.
Making his first WRC appearance since Rally Australia last November with Aussie Rhys Pinter, Hall was recruited by White thanks to his previous experience in the series and would guide the Barnsley driver around his inaugural World Championship outing in a Ford Fiesta R2.
Having contested events in America, Canada, Finland and the UK, 29 year old from Nottingham had also never contested the Corsican event before but was looking forward to the challenge of the Island, famed for its tricky mountain roads and cavernous drops.
The three day reconnaissance which kicked off the event would be the most important aspect for Hall. Creating accurate pace notes would be imperative for the full speed assault later in the week and despite not having sat alongside White before, the newly formed duo soon settled into the task in hand.
The Tour de Corse consists of just ten stages which is around half of the usual number for a WRC event, but with over 315km of competitive special tests crammed into three days.
The gigantic 53km Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza stage would be the flagship test for the crews but would not take place until the final leg of the event.
With over 450 pages of pace notes to be read throughout the event, Hall would need to ensure his concentration levels were at an all-time high and as the event is dubbed the “Ten Thousand Turns Rally”, it would be one of the toughest events Hall would contest in his career so far.
The opening leg of the event consisted of two stages repeated, offering 120km of tricky Corsican roads but the newly formed duo took each stage in their stride, ending the day in a confidence boosting 48th overall.
Hall had already dubbed the second day stages as the toughest in the event and the 48km La Porta – Valle di Rostino test kicked off Saturdays proceedings. Climbing up to 45th overall in the process, Hall was confident of a solid run though the sixth and considerably shorter Novella stage. But all the hard work would be undone when the Fiesta glanced a mountain bridge, causing them to retire on the spot with suspension damage.
The team managed to repair the Ford and they were able to restart the event under Super Rally rules on Sunday’s final leg. Completing the Power Stage in an impressive 38th quickest time, Hall and driver White were able to cross the ceremonial finish ramp later that day, taking a solid 45th overall in the process.
“It’s been a great adventure and certainly one of the toughest World Championship events I’ve ever done” said Hall. “I’ve never written so many pace notes before and of course it was crucial that each one was 100 per cent correct so I spent a lot of time checking them through after each day of recce. I was also a little concerned for my voice at one point”.
Hall was also mindful that it was White’s inaugural WRC outing.
“There was a little bit more pressure I guess and I really wanted to make sure we got round this week. It’s always a fantastic achievement to complete a world round so it was unlucky we missed two stages on Saturday. But it took nothing away from the event and Corsica will be remembered for being one of the hardest events I`ve ever done.”
Hall’s attentions will now turn to making plans for the future and further announcements on his outings will be released soon.
Hall is sponsored by WWW.ITSMYMOTORSPORT.CO.UK