Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart drivers Tommi Makinen and Freddy Loix go to Corsica, the 12th round of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship, determined to capitalise on Mitsubishi's strong position in the series.

Tommi Makinen and Freddy Loix will drive the latest Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC. Once again, Mitsubishi will be bidding strongly for success in the Group N production car category.

The Tour de Corse, the French round of the World Championship, is widely regarded as the ultimate asphalt rally. Narrow, often bumpy roads snake over the high passes of this mountainous island and the endless long, tight corners make it a test of endurance as well as speed.

It is one of the most specialised rallies on the calendar - an awesome test of driving skill, certainly, but also a rally that requires detailed knowledge. A precise driving style is vital, and the stages pose huge strains on tyres and brakes. The only French-governed island in the Mediterranean and the birthplace of Napoleon, the tourist season is all but finished by late October and autumn will be well advanced, which could make the rally tougher still. There could be plenty of mud and fallen leaves on the roads, and every possibility of rain and fog. Predicting the weather will be vital, but particularly difficult at times, with up to three stages between service points, sometimes more than two hours apart. Sunshine and mild temperatures in the palm-fringed resorts on the coast will give little hint of the hostile conditions that the drivers may face in the mountains.

Tommi Makinen and Risto Mannisenmaki go to Corsica as World Championship leaders and curiously, still seeking their first victory on this event in their Michelin-shod Lancer Evolution.

"This has not been a lucky rally for us, but we must try to score points. We had a few problems with the new car in Sanremo, but we know what direction we have to go and I am sure the team can make it faster," Makinen commented.

Belgians Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets have scored consistently well this season and armed with the latest Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC, they are keen to make the most of improved form in Corsica.

"This is one of the most difficult rallies of the year and, now it has moved date, I think it could be even harder. It will be difficult to score points, but we will certainly be trying our best," Loix promised.

The three-day rally is based in Ajaccio, the island's capital, and is concentrated on the western side of the island for the first time. It includes 16 special stages, comprising 394 kilometres and covers a total 891 kilometres, entirely on asphalt. The first leg will be fought out east and south of Ajaccio and while it includes just five stages, they cover 126 kilometres, including a stage of more than 36 kilometres. That stage is repeated on the longest day of the rally, Saturday, with seven stages covering 155 kilometres, most of them in the mountains north-east of Ajaccio. The final leg heads south once more and with four long stages covering 111 kilometres, the result could be in doubt until the very end. The rally takes place from 19-21 October.