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ERC: Kubica and Sarrazin join the fray in Corsica
13 May 2013
Robert Kubica will be back in action in the FIA European Rally Championship this weekend, as he lines up to take the start of the Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse from May 16-18.
The 76-race veteran of the F1 world championship will be joined by Frenchman Stéphane Sarrazin, himself a former Grand Prix driver albeit of just the one race back in 1999. Make no mistake about it through, Sarrazin has built himself a formidable reputation in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the intervening years and is now keen to see what he can achieve in a rally car by making his maiden start in ERC with MINI John Cooper Works.
That should make him quite an opponent for Kubica, who will be starting his third event in the series this week. The Polish ace has led both ERC rallies he's started to date in his Citroën DS3 RRC, and he has a grand total of 15 stage wins to his name up to this point.
Kubica and Sarrazin are just two of the 58 entries (23 in the headlining Super 2000 category alone) for this weekend's race in Corsica, which makes it the biggest entry list that the 'Rally of 10,000 Corners' has seen in five years.
Jan Kopecký is the championship's man of the moment with three wins out of three starts this year for ŠKODA Motorsport. Renowned as an asphalt specialist, Kopecký produced one of the drives of his career in Corsica in 2012 as he closed on eventual winner Dani Sordo, who piloted the same MINI that Sarrazin will use this year.
Other firm favourites for Corsica glory include one-time Rallye Monte-Carlo victor Bryan Bouffier, rallying legend François Delecour and Peugeot Rally Academy's rising star Craig Breen. Daniel Oliveira will fly the colours of the Brazil World Rally Team on his Fiesta, while highly-rated Frenchman Jérémi Ancian is the reigning Peugeot 207 one-make champion in his homeland.
Jean-Mathieu Leandri is the highest-seeded Corsican driver while fellow islander Jean-Dominique Mattei will be back in action 12 months after fire destroyed his car on this event.
The event starts in the tranquil setting of Calvi on Corsica's northwest coast, on the evening of Thursday, May 16. From there, crews tackle six stages on Friday's opening leg around the town of Corte before the overnight halt in Ajaccio to the south.
Saturday's action starts and finishes in Ajaccio with five stages prior to the finish in the town that evening at the end of an overall distance of 929.55 kilometres. But the distance only tells a fraction of the story: it's the proliferation of twists and turns on challenging mountain roads that makes the Tour de Corse such a tough test for both car and crew.
The bulk of the route runs over narrow mountain passes lined with unforgiving rock faces on one side of the road and steep drops on the other. The stages climb and fall; while most roads in Corsica have been resurfaced over the years, there are also some sections on bumpy and broken asphalt.
The 56th running of Tour de Corse will feature several stages shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica:Friday 17 May 2013
SS2: Erbajolo-Pont d'Altiani 1 (24.57kms): 11am CET- Noon CET
SS6: Erbajolo-Pont d'Altiani 2 (24.57kms): 8pm CET - 9pm CETSaturday 18 May 2013
SS8: Sarrola–Liamone 1 (26.70kms): Noon CET - 1pm CET
SS11: Sarrola–Liamone 2 (26.70kms): 6pm CET - 7pm CETAll times CET - BST+1