Wednesday 11 May 2011

A chance for Peugeot's crews to discover a legend...

A chance for Peugeot's crews to discover a legend...

image Even before the creation of the World Rally Championship, the Tour de Corse had established itself as one of rallying’s legendary fixtures. For more than three decades, it counted towards the WRC before becoming a victim of the championship’s move towards a standardised format. This year sees the event return to the calendar, yet adapted to the constraints faced by the sport today. Peugeot is a partner of the rally and the numerous 207 S2000 runners will have just one objective in mind: to repeat the exploits of Bruno Saby (205 Turbo 16, 1986) and Gilles Panizzi (206 WRC, 2000 and 2002) by adding a win on the event with Peugeot to their personal record.

Speed, durability and reliability

The second round of the 2011 IRC, in the Canary Islands, was an out-and-out sprint, with a menu of barely more than 160km of competitive action. In Corsica (May 12-14), the total stage distance will be twice that figure, while the event itself will last three days. “The Tour de Corse is the first major asphalt encounter of the 2011 IRC,” says Frédéric Bertrand, manager of Peugeot Sport’s Customer Competition Department. “It’s a truly complex challenge, because the stages are more varied, with countless changes in grip levels, especially on some of the classic stages which haven’t been run for more than 10 years. It’s going to be a long, tough rally for the crews, mechanics and cars alike, but the 207 S2000 is reputed for its impeccable reliability.” The 2011 Tour de Corse starts in Calvi and will feature a twisty coast-hugging test before visiting the Castaniccia region and stopping in Corte, at the heart of the island. It will come to an end on Saturday evening in Ajaccio. image

A long list of tour de Corse rookies

Peugeot’s policy is focused on the future, with the accent on younger drivers, which is no doubt why none of the drivers entered by the four Peugeot subsidiaries involved in the IRC has previously contested the island event. “My first experience of this rally dates back to 2006 when I gravel noted for Nicolas Vouilloz’s [winner of the 2008 IRC driving a Peugeot 207 S2000]. It’s an amazing event, but a corner is just a corner, and we know that the 207 S2000 is on the pace,” says Bryan Bouffier. Thanks to their win on last January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Peugeot France driver and his co-driver Xavier Panseri are currently second in the provisional IRC standings. image

The second best-placed Peugeot driver is Briton Guy Wilks whose navigator is Phil Pugh. “I’ve already visited Corsica, so I have a little knowledge of what the roads are like,” notes the Peugeot UK driver. “This will only be my third outing in the 207 S2000. However, thanks to the Rally Gran Canaria and also to my test programme, I have learned a great deal about how to drive it on asphalt. I’ve made progress, which is why I am feeling quietly confident.” Confidence is something which Bruno Magalhaès, who is entered along with Paulo Grave by Peugeot Portugal, is looking for: “My last few rallies have been troubled by a variety of incidents. My priorities in Corsica will be to get as many kilometres under my belt as possible and keep my driving as smooth as possible. That’s why I’m glad that the Tour de Corse is so long and varied. That will give me time to find my marks.” image

The best-placed Peugeot crew in the Canary Islands was Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul. “The pressure on my shoulders can hardly be any higher than it was last month,” smiles Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg’s youngster. “I will simply try to apply the lessons I have learnt. I know that I can be quick but I am also aware that Corsica will be a different sort of challenge altogether.”
Despite their limited experience,” concludes Frédéric Bertrand, “the crews entered by our subsidiaries are really fired up. We would love to see Thierry build on his great run in the Canaries, see Bryan recover the provisional IRC lead, see Guy keep his title bid going and see Bruno continue to make progress.”

A field of nine 207 Super 2000s

The 19 S2000 cars which feature on the entry list include no fewer than 9 207s, a figure which provides further evidence of its popularity. Pierre Campana and Sabrina de Castelli figure among the 207 S2000 privateers who could well play a prominent role. “I have a little experience of the 207 S2000 after driving one on the 2010 Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières and on two small events in Italy, plus a couple of day’s testing before the Tour de Corse,” points out the young Corsican. “My aim is to up my pace as I go along and, hopefully, finish inside the top-five.” image

Peugeot in Corsica

Peugeot’s record in Corsica includes three wins: in 1986 (with Bruno Saby in a 205 Turbo 16) and in 2000 and 2002 (with Gilles Panizzi and the 206 WRC). Peugeot is a partner of the 54th Tour de Corse which will only add to the motivation of its crews. The programmes on Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14 feature no fewer than six stages which will be broadcast live by Eurosport and the local channel, France 3 Corse Via Stella.

Peugeot entry list
1. Bryan BOUFFIER – Xavier PANSERI
3. Guy WILKS – Phil PUGH
5. Thierry NEUVILLE – Nicolas GRISOUL
7. Bruno MAGALHAES – Paulo GRAVE
10. Pierre CAMPANA – Sabrina DE CASTELLI
15. Massimiliano SETTEMBRINI – Corrado BONATO
17. Jean-Dominique MATTEI – Patrick SCIPILITTI
18. Jean-Mathieu LEANDRI – Pierre-Marien LEONARDI
19. Yazeed AL RAJHI – Mathieu BAUMEL

Follow Tour de Corse : live text : live timing

TV coverage
Friday May 13th
01:00-01:30 (Highlights day 1)
09:00-10:00 (SS 3). LIVE on Eurosport.
12:00-13:00 (SS 5). LIVE on Eurosport 2.
17:30-18:30 (SS 8). LIVE on Eurosport.
Saturday May 14th
09:00-10:00 (SS 9). LIVE on Eurosport.
15:00-16:00. (SS 12). LIVE on Eurosport 2.
20:00-21:00. (SS 14). LIVE on Eurosport.
Sunday May 15th
23:00-23:30 (Rally highlights)

Thursday, May 12th
SS1 LE FANGU – Nd DE LA SERRA 27,53 km 14:03
SS2 LE FANGU – Nd DE LA SERRA 27,53 km 16:56
Friday, May 13th
SS3 ERBAJOLO – PONT D’ALTIANI 25,15 km 09:10
SS4 BARCHETTA – LA PORTA 23,24 km 10:58
SS6 BARCHETTA – LA PORTA 23,24 km 15:09
SS8 ERBAJOLO – PONT D’ALTIANI 25,15 km 17:40
Saturday, May 14th
SS10 MARATO – ACQUA DORIA 22,47 km 10:43
SS11 BOCOGNANO – BASTELICA 20,05 km 13:47
SS12 MARATO – ACQUA DORIA 22,47 km 15:10
SS13 BOCOGNANO – BASTELICA 20,05 km 18:48
SS14 SARROLA – PLAGE DU LIAMONE 26,70 km 20:10

Day 1 : 55,06 km
Day 2 : 127,34 km
Day 3 : 138,44 km
Total : 320,84 km

Puegeot Sport/ Acreditated media press.

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