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FRANCESCHI WINS AT HOME

The FIA Junior World Rally Championship delivered another thrilling event at this weekend’s Tour de Corse – Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and Romain Courbon powering their one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2 to a popular home victory on French soil.

As the two Swedes battled for the victory in Sweden, it was the two Frenchmen who went head-to-head for the spoils this weekend – Franceschi and fellow Frenchman Terry Folb sharing control at the head of the standings.

Folb was first to make a move – claiming the lead with the fastest time through the first competitive stage and maintaining it throughout the opening day of competition.

But Franceschi wasn’t far behind, and growing in confidence with every kilometer. As the event continued into the weekend, the 22-year-old proved untouchable – setting eight fastest times to secure a commanding 33.7 second victory.

The battle for the final podium position proved even more intense – Callum Devine, Emil Bergkvist and Dennis Rådström all determined to add a new trophy to their collection.

Devine had the advantage going into the closing stages, but the asphalt specialist was dealt a cruel blow – losing more than two minutes with a puncture through ‘Vero – Sarrola – Carcopino’ (SS11) and having to settle for a solid fifth place.

Devine’s demise promoted Bergkvist who secured his second podium in as many events. Rådström brought his Fiesta home in fourth and continues to head the championship standings ahead of Franceschi, Bergkvist, Folb and Devine

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (1st) said:

“It has been the perfect rally for us and I am really proud to win this special event. With eight fastest times we couldn’t have asked for anything more, and the feeling is amazing.”

Terry Folb (2nd) said:
“I was here to win, but finished the rally in the second position. It’s not a bad result, and Jean Baptiste did a great job all weekend. It was a really good battle and even though I lost this fight, I’m already ready for the next one!”

Emil Bergkvist (3rd) said:

“I’m quite happy with this third place. It was a bit difficult in the beginning as the guys in front of us were really fast. But we were getting closer and closer and I’m happy with the work we have done this weekend. Now I’m really looking forward to Rally Portugal where I’ll try to take the win!”

FIA Junior World Rally Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:

“We’ve seen another fantastic event on another new surface and I must commend all fourteen crews for making it to the end of this notoriously difficult event. This is one of the most challenging rallies on the calendar and we didn’t have a single retirement. It’s a credit to the ability of the crews, but also to strength of the Fiesta, the performance of the Pirelli tyres and the hard work and attention to detail that was delivered by each and every one of our mechanics.

“A win at the Tour de Corse carries a lot of weight, so congratulations to Jean Baptiste and Romain on a brilliant drive. They had everything right this weekend – building their speed before settling into a consistently strong rhythm. It was a fantastic performance from the Frenchman, but I also think that everyone can be proud of a job well done this weekend.”

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE FIELD: CREW BY CREW

Dennis Rådström (4th) said:

Fresh from victory at his home event in Sweden, Dennis Rådström secured a fine fourth place at this weekend’s Tour de Corse and continues to lead the championship standings.

“We’re very happy with this result and it gives us some more good points for the championship. I think we improved a lot of our skills on Tarmac this weekend. And I think a rally like this also helps improve the co-operation with the co-driver – so it was a good event all round.”

Callum Devine (5th):

As the championship turned to his preferred surface this weekend, Callum Devine was hoping to challenge at the head of the field. The Irishman did just that and was on course for a podium before a puncture dropped him to fifth on the penultimate speed test.

“It’s been a good rally and I’m quite happy with the pace. We’ve been going pretty fast all weekend and were sitting in third place before a small mistake on the final day. We hit a barrier and picked up a puncture which we had to stop to change – costing us a couple of minutes.”

Ken Torn (6th):

Contesting his very first asphalt event, Ken Torn delivered an impressive drive to sixth place this weekend. Learning much about the art of sealed-surface rallying, the Estonian produced a measured approach and built his pace throughout the weekend.

“I think this rally was quite good for us. Before this event we had no experience on Tarmac, so the thing we came here to get was experience. It’s a hard rally, but it wasn’t too bad for us and I think on some stages our pace was good.”

Luca Bottarelli (7th):

A puncture through the first pass of ‘La Porta – Valle di Rostino’ (SS3) might have cost Luca Bottarelli more than three and a half minutes to the leading pack, but the Italian also demonstrated his potential on asphalt – the highlight being a second fastest time through the second pass of ‘Désert des Agriates’ (SS9) and his first stage win through the final speed test.

“It was a very difficult event, but I managed to win the last stage. We were very unlucky at the start of the rally – picking up a puncture on the opening day – but now we know that we are able to battle for a good result on Tarmac.“

Bugra Banaz (8th):

Contesting his first FIA Junior World Rally Championship event this year, Bugra Banaz delivered a solid performance through the notoriously challenging stages of this weekend’s Tour de Corse.

“This rally was quite hard, but it was also a huge opportunity for us. We’ve never been driving such long stages, and the surface here was totally different to that in my home country. I’m really happy to be a part of this championship – and looking forward to my home rally in Turkey.”

Emilio Fernández (9th):

Making his sealed-surface debut, Emilio Fernández delivered a measured performance at this weekend’s Tour de Corse – learning the unique nature of the event as well as the skills required for driving on asphalt.

“It was a very difficult rally. We were competing on Tarmac for the first time and we enjoyed it, but for sure we still have some work to do. The next event is on gravel where I think we can perform better and push a bit harder.”

Julius Tannert (10th) said:

Julius Tannert had the potential to challenge for another strong result this weekend, but the German’s hopes were dashed through the first competitive speed test – losing more than 10 minutes when becoming stuck off the road through the first pass of ‘Piedigriggio - Pont de Castirla’ (SS2).

“For sure it has been a hard weekend for us. We had a very frustrating moment on the opening day which cost us about ten minutes. Jurgen was a bit late with the pacenote, and I braked too late. I made a mistake and he made a mistake, but it’s a part of the game. I think we showed some good speed and had the pace to challenge for the podium. We also got some good experience so let’s see what we can do on the next events.”

Enrico Oldrati (11th):

It’s easy to forget that Enrico Oldrati was contesting only the third ever rally of his career this weekend. Gaining the experience to progress his natural talent behind the wheel, the Italian delivered another solid performance.

“This was my first time here in Corsica and it’s a really difficult event so I’m happy to have made it to the finish. I need to get more experience, but for now I’m happy that I am where I am.”

Tom Williams (12th):

Tom Williams was running in a points-paying position before he suffered a puncture through the first stage of Saturday morning (SS5) – losing more than four minutes to the leading pack.

“All in all this was a very good rally. I was struggling to find the right pace early on. There was a lot of gravel on the road so maybe I was a bit too cautious. Later, I decided to push a bit harder. The pacenotes were great and we secured seventh position. I’m very happy with that on my first time here in Corsica.”

Umberto Accornero (13th):

Stepping up to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in his career, Umberto Accornero may have lost time with an off early on, but continued to gain the vital experience needed to excel at this level.

“It was a very difficult rally and we had a tough start with a small off on Friday. It was a small mistake, but there was some pretty big damage and with this I really understood how focused you have to be in Corsica. For the other two days we tried to get as much experience as we could and the times improved. I can't thank the guys enough for the unbelievable work on the car! “

David Holder (14th):

Contesting his very first event on asphalt, David Holder had been running in a strong seventh place – the pre-event training on some of his homeland’s kart tracks clearly paying dividends. But the New Zealander was denied a strong result when losing close to 15 minutes off the road on the first pass of ‘Désert des Agriates’ (SS6). He then suffered a roll on the final speed test, but showed real determination in righting his Fiesta and finishing the rally.

“We were pretty happy with our rally as a whole – especially givenour limited experience on asphalt – and most of the times were pleasing. But then on the last stage we hit some gravel and understeered into a bank which then led to a roll. We managed to push the car back onto its wheels and finish the rally, but it was a disappointing way to end the weekend. Now we're looking forward to Portugal and a surface we’re much more familiar with.”

 

TOUR DE CORSE CLASSIFICATION:

1. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi / Romain Courbon 3:56:28.7
2. Terry Folb / Christopher Guieu +33.7
3. Emil Bergkvist / Ola Fløene +3:28.6
4. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson +4:11.7
5. Callum Devine / Keith Moriarty +6:24.8
6. Ken Torn / Ken Järveoja +6:37.8
7. Luca Bottarelli / Manuel Fenoli +7:25.6
8. Bugra Banaz / Burak Erdener +10:13.9
9. Emilio Fernández / Joaquin Riquelme +12:56.6
10. Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl +13:54.6
11. Enrico Oldrati / Danilo Fappani +14:56.7
12. Tom Williams / Phil Hall +15:45.6
13. Umberto Accornero / Barone Maurizio +21:05.5
14. David Holder / Jason Farmer +31:29.1

 

TOUR DE CORSE STAGE WINS:

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi / Romain Courbon - 8
Terry Folb / Christopher Guieu - 2
Luca Bottarelli / Manuel Fenoli - 1

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

1. Dennis Rådström - 46
2. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi - 45
3. Emil Bergkvist - 38
4. Terry Folb - 30
5. Callum Devine - 18
6. Julius Tannert - 17
7. Ken Torn - 12
8. Luca Bottarelli - 11
9. Emilio Fernández - 8
9. Bugra Banaz - 4
11. David Holder - 2
12. Tom Williams - 1