Thierry Neuville earned a handsome victory for Hyundai Motorsport in Corsica to become the fourth different winner of a WRC round from four starts this year. Michelin’s score on the Mediterranean island now stands at 25 outright victories with 11 different makes since the championship’s creation in 1973.
After coming close to taking the top prize in Monte Carlo and Sweden, Thierry Neuville kept his head in Corsica to claim his first win of 2017 in the new Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin.
After easing ahead following the retirement of early leader Kris Meeke (Citroën C3/Michelin), whose engine failed after SS6, the Belgian took advantage of the hydraulic problems that slowed world champion Sébastien Ogier (Ford/Michelin) to pull out a big gap. He then went on to secure the second Tour de Corse win of his career after his success there in 2011 when the event wasn’t a round of the WRC. The inaugural Tour de Corse in 1956 was won by another Belgian, lady driver Gilberte Thirion.
After victories for Ogier/Ford in Monte Carlo, Latvala/Toyota in Sweden and Meeke/Citroën in Mexico, Neuville and Hyundai Motorsport are this season’s fourth different winners. The last time four different makes won the four opening rounds of the WRC was in 1986 (Lancia, Peugeot, Renault and Toyota), and the last time four different drivers did likewise was in 1998 (Sainz, Mäkinen, Burns and McRae).
Meanwhile, Michelin won the Tour de Corse as a WRC round for the 25th time, in association with an 11th different manufacturer partner and a 16th different model. Its first victory on the French isle was in 1973 with Alpine-Renault and Jean-Pierre Nicolas and it has won there since with Lancia, Porsche, Renault, Peugeot, BMW, Ford, Toyota, Citroën, Volkswagen and, now, Hyundai.
The late, thrilling battle for second and third spots opposed Sébastien Ogier, Dani Sordo, Jari-Matti Latvala and Craig Breen. Hyundai’s Spaniard came close to clinching the silver medal when Ogier lost time due to an electrical issue on Sunday morning, but Ford’s star fought back to retrieve second place on the Power Stage. The final test also saw Latvala (Toyota/Michelin) squeeze past Breen (Citroën/Michelin) to claim fourth by just one-tenth of a second!
Skoda Motorsport and Michelin continued their domination in WRC2 thanks this time to Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen who was joined on the podium by Finn Teemu Suninen (Ford/Michelin) and Frenchman Yohan Rossel (Citroën/Michelin). Third was actually Stéphane Sarrazin (Skoda/Michelin), but he is not registered for the championship.
Next round: Rally Argentina (April 28-30).