M-Sport's Elfyn Evans continues to lead Tour de Corse – Rallye de France following SS5 on Saturday morning, but Jari-Matti Latvala has closed, slashing the gap to just 1.7s.
cancelled due to storm damage, competitors only had one test to tackle before the mid-day service, a repeat-run through the 36.43km Francardo–Sermano test. However, while the weather has improved today, conditions remained very tricky in SS5, with mud and gravel having been washed onto the road after the torrential rain. Evans was only seventh quickest, 21.2s slower than stage winner, Latvala, but that was just enough to keep him on top.
“It was really, really tough,” Evans said at the end of the test. “There's a sort of film on the road. The plan from here now is to keep doing what I can.”
“We seemed to lose a lot of time in one section,” he added back in service. “It was particularly greasy through that stretch of road and very hard to predict the grip because the mud would carry on for three or four corners. We'll have a good look at it to try and understand why that was the case.
“We had a clean run though, which is the main thing, and we need to remember that this is a very long and difficult rally. There's a long way to go, but it's great to see that we're still here and in contention for what could be a very strong result. Even though we were leading last night – and still are, we said that we weren't going to change our approach and that is still the case.”
“It's Evans I'm looking for. He was doing well in here yesterday, so I knew I had to improve,” remarked Latvala, who confirmed he had a couple of 'little moments' en-route
to the best time.
“Conditions are almost more difficult today than yesterday - there is more of a difference between the dry and the slippery sections,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen was second best in the test – 4.5s off Volkswagen team-mate Latvala – to move from seventh overall last night to third, 26.1s off the fight at the front.
“No rain today but the mud makes it very difficult. The car is slipping from corner to corner like in Monte Carlo,” noted the VW Motorsport II pilot.
Hyundai fourth driver Kevin Abbring has slipped back from second to fourth, 1.3s behind Mikkelsen and 13.9s up on Citroen's Kris Meeke.
Further back, Mads Ostberg lost two positions in his DS 3 WRC and is now sixth, ahead of Ford privateer Stephane Sarrazin – struggling with a lack of power, Hyundai N pilot Hayden Paddon and Bryan Bouffier.
Ott Tanak completes the top-ten, with Dani Sordo, Stephane Lefebvre and Martin Prokop in positions 11 through to 13.
“The conditions were definitely challenging but it was a bit more consistent and a little easier to see what's happening than it was last night,” Tanak said. “We managed to get into quite a good rhythm and it felt better than yesterday so I can't complain.”
Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville both rejoined this morning under Rally 2, but are running well down.
Robert Kubica, who been fifth, was forced to retire after suffering two punctures. He was only carrying one spare.
In WRC2, Julien Maurin now heads the class, just 2.2 seconds up on Esapekka Lappi. Craig Breen, who led last night, has dropped to third, losing almost 30s to his rivals in SS5.
Tour de Corse – Rallye de France now continues this afternoon, with SS6, the 48.46 km Muracciole-Col de Sorba test – the longest of the event – due to start at 13.52 hours local time [12.52 hours UK time]. Full itinerary for round eleven in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Tour de Corse - Rallye de France: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):
1. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 14m 00.2s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 01.7s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 27.8s
4. Kevin Abbring
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 29.1s
5. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 43.0s
6. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 47.5s
7. Stephane Sarrazin
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 07.5s
8. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +1m 14.3s
9. Bryan Bouffier
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 14.6s
10. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 34.0s
11. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +1m 54.2s
12. Stephane Lefebvre
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +2m 10.0s
13. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 00.2s
14. Julien Maurin
Ford Fiesta RRC +3m 24.6s
15. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +3m 26.8s
16. Craig Breen
Peugeot 208 T16 +3m 46.0s
WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):
1. Julien Maurin
Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 17m 24.8s
2. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 02.2s
3. Craig Breen
Peugeot 208 T16 +0m 21.4s
SS1. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Hit a bridge
SS3. Pontus Tidemand
Skoda Fabia R5 Suspension
SS3/SS4. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Technical
SS5. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped
*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2.
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial