Barnsley rally driver David White conquered one of the toughest events in the FIA World Rally Championship last week as he drove his Fiesta R2 to 45th overall at the gruelling Tour de Corse in Corsica.
Just weeks after completing the opening round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, White headed to the French island to contest his very first World Championship event which offered over 300km of special stages, packed into just ten stages.
Whilst arguably the two-time Group N National Asphalt Rally champion would be at home on the closed public roads on the island, Tour de Corse is notorious for its infamous narrow mountain roads and has a reputation of catching out even the best drivers in the business.
But White and co-driver for this event Brit Phil Hall, recorded an impressive result on White’s inaugural WRC outing.
Three long days of reconnaissance would open proceedings and offered the chance to acclimatise to the unique roads of Corsica. Having a good set of pace notes would be key to keeping both car and crew in-line during the event and after the buzz of the ceremonial start in Bastia on Thursday night,
White would kick off his WRC experience with an impressive time during the opening stage of the event, recording the 58th quickest time from 80 starters.
His pace on the opening 30km test was a sign of things to come and White picked off each of the Friday stages one by one. After 120km of action in the opening day, he ended the leg in a mighty 48th overall.
Saturday’s stages provided the longest leg of the event with around 140km in wait for the crews, but White wasted no time in making an effort to climb the leader board, ending the 48km opening stage of La Porta – Valle di Rostino in 45th position.
Despite having only contested a handful of events in the Mirage Vape Store backed Fiesta, White was clearly settling in to his new surroundings.
But disaster struck on the sixth stage of the event, when carrying too much speed into one of the mountain stages, White glanced a bridge with the right front wheel, forcing him to park up on the stage with suspension failure. Super Rally rules in the WRC offers the chance to re-join the event and after the team got to work repairing the Fiesta, he was able to start Sunday’s final leg of the event.
With overnight time penalties applied, White was eager to begin his fightback. However, the longest stage of the event, the 53km Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza was cancelled due to an incident and he was forced to contest just the final Power Stage on Sunday’s final leg of the event.
The short 10km test was no problem for the sealed surface ace and he crossed the ceremonial finish ramp in Porto Vecchio in a very respectable 45th overall.
White was ecstatic as finishing his first WRC event.
“It has truly been a chance of a lifetime and I have enjoyed every single minute since the day we arrived on the island” said White. “The World Rally Championship is a fantastic thing to be part of and it’s been one amazing experience from start to finish”.
He settled into the unique stages much quicker than he anticipated too.
“It’s one thing being experienced in sealed surface events in the UK but I really thought that Corsica would be impossible to master in three days. But everything just seemed to click and I really felt at home from the very first stage. The Fiesta was perfect in every way and I do have to thank the team for all their efforts in both getting it ready for the event and ensuring we could complete Sunday’s stages after our incident. I’m still buzzing from the result and the memories will stay with me for a very long time”.
Attentions will now turn to the Pirelli Rally in Carlisle at the end of April where White will resume his assault on the British Championship.
White is running under the Two 4 Motorsport banner and is backed by Mirage Vape Stores, F & G Commercials, DAF, Whites Bakery, Speedline Wheels and Pirelli.
You can follow the team on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
Image credit: Red Bull Media House.