Two teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Tour de Corse this weekend, round twelve of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship.

German Antony Warmbold and Briton Alistair Ginley will both using privateer Ford Focus WRC's - Warmbold a 2002 version, while Ginley will make do with one from 2001.

This is the first outing for Warmbold since Rally Australia at the beginning of September, where he had an excellent run taking 14th overall as the first privateer across the finish line.

"Australia was a great event for us, everything started to come together and the result has given us an enormous confidence boost," said Warmbold, "The last month has been fairly quiet - kind of 'the calm before the storm' - because having three rallies in the next four weeks is going to be manic! I have been doing a lot of fitness and upper body strength training as driving on tarmac is more physically stressful, even more so when you have events so close together."

Warmbold's previous sealed surface outing was Rallye Deutschland in July, so the AW Rally Team held a half-day test in Corsica last weekend to reacquaint themselves with asphalt.

"There are many things I would like to experiment with, as we really have not strayed far from the 'basic set-up' we started with in Monte Carlo at the beginning of the year, so I can't wait to get behind the wheel," added Warmbold, "Most importantly I really want to improve my speed on this surface and I will be focusing on that this weekend. And I do not care about the weather at all. Personally I would like rain because I hardly have any experience driving in it.

"The Corsican stages are tough stages, they are tight and twisty with many corners and road knowledge is a definite advantage so we will as always be working very hard on the recce. We did the recce last year but unfortunately this year's stages are all different except for two of them!

"I am not sure how much doing a 'recce only' helps you; obviously you have base notes to work from as long as the format doesn't change too much, but what would really help would be to have done the stages flat-out before! For us the goal is to drive to the finish and learn the stages as well as possible for next year."

For Ginley meanwhile Corsica also marks the start of a busy time, and like Warmbold he will be competing in the final three WRC rallies over the next four weeks.

"We are pleased to be getting back in the car as we've not competed since Rally Finland and while tarmac is not my favourite surface I am looking forward to competing in Corsica," said Ginley, "It's a very technical slow rally and it will give us a good opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with asphalt before the faster stages in Catalunya the following week.

"The Focus did very well in Corsica last year and with rain forecast, which we hope will level out the field a little and take the speed out of the faster cars, we are looking forward to a positive event."

The Tour de Corse gets underway this Friday [October 17].

Picture credit: McKlein.



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