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Tour de Corse lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest co-driver challenges of the World Rally Championship last weekend (28-31 March), as Phil Hall guided fellow Brit Tom Williams to a confidence-boosting fifth place in the Junior WRC category of the event.

The Mansfield based co-driver would head to the Corsican island for the third time and was well aware of the task ahead during the weekend as the fourteen stages would have more pacenote calls than any other in the series.

After a career-best fourth place at the opening Rally Sweden last month, Hall would be looking to continue his impressive start to the season as 17 identical M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2’s would go head to head across the winding Mediterranean roads on the first Tarmac test of the year.

Stages on Tour de Corse are iconic for their super-fast main roads which hug the ragged rock faces of the island, bolstered by cliff edge drops on the other. Precision is key and whilst the pace notes are always essential to strong stage times, never more so is that more important than in Corsica.

Whilst the opening day was not the longest, it was arguably the hardest on the event thanks to the six stages all taking place without a mid-day service. Tyre conservation would be critical and Hall was eager to acclimatise to the unique roads and settle into a positive rhythm for the day. Some strong stage times throughout the loop and a trouble-free run saw Hall climb to fourth place during the leg, although fifth would be the result at the end of the day.

Day two was the longest of the rally with 175km on offer, mainly due to the mind-blowing 47km Castagniccia test which would be tackled twice. A puncture early on hampered progress but Hall’s challenge would certainly be the longest stage of the rally as he would need to deliver second-perfect notes for almost 35 minutes non-stop. The RAF Reservist’s previous experience on the island helped, and he guided Williams back to the overnight halt still in a worthy fifth spot.

Just two stages remained on Sunday and another trouble-free blast saw Hall secure another impressive result to head into round three of the series in sixth place in the championship.

“Corsica certainly lived up to its reputation this year and as you start to climb the rallying ladder and become faster, the challenge increases as well which makes this result so very rewarding,” said Hall.

“Tom drove really well this weekend and we had a great harmony in the car. On stages like this, you really need dedication from both sides of the car and it all seemed to gel. It was an immense challenge though with the highlight most certainly the 47km of the Castagniccia stage. It offered insane levels of note reading which is unrivalled really. It was most certainly a tough but thrilling rally which delivers one of the biggest challenges a co-driver can endure but I loved every second of it”.

Hall will now head straight from Corsica to tackle his next adventure as he will make the trip to Asia, supporting a long-time mountaineering partner in his expedition to the peak of Mount Everest. Hall will climb to the base camp which is cited at a mind-blowing 18,000ft.

Hall is partnered by and the Royal Air Force in 2019.

Image credit M-Sport/JWRC

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