ERC – Sarrazin sets pace in Corsica qualifying

 Driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, Stephane Sarrazin took 1m 28.7s to complete the 2.64-kilometre test, which was held in damp conditions following light rain and placed a focus on tyre strategy. Drivers could choose softer compound Michelin or Pirelli tyres, which were optimal for the conditions, or select harder covers in order to save their less durable soft tyre allocation for the 11-stage rally.
Stephane Sarrazin
Stephane Sarrazin

Despite only landing in Corsica on Monday after contesting the Shanghai Six Hours FIA World Endurance Championship event in China at the weekend, Sarrazin didn’t let jetlag affect his performance as he beat Kajetan Kajetanowicz to the fastest time by one tenth of a second.

“I still have little bit of jetlag but every day is getting better and I am used to it,” said Sarrazin, who finished third in Corsica last season. “I am very happy to be here in Corsica and enjoying driving this car.”

Fiesta R5 driver Kajetanowicz, who can still finish runner-up for the LOTOS Rally Team in the final ERC standings, said: “I had a good run, it started raining but I’m happy. It’s a completely different stage than the rally stages but good for the start. I’m happy with the car and tyres.”

Julien Maurin completed the all-Fiesta top-three in his R5 model. He was 0.2s slower than Sarrazin. “We have a good feeling with the tyre and the pace but now is the beginning. I want to start in the top five tomorrow and now it’s possible.”

Kevin Abbring was fourth quickest in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16 with ERC champion elect Esapekka Lappi fifth for ŠKODA Motorsport. Bryan Bouffier (Fiesta RRC) completed the top six with Romain Dumas seventh fastest in his RGT-specification Porsche 997.

“The road was a little bit dirty already so we lost a bit of time in some places,” said Dumas, who like Sarrazin, was also racing in China last weekend. “When the road is a bit humid and muddy I lose some time in with the two-wheel drive.”

Kresta Racing’s Jaromír Tarabus was eighth quickest with Craig Breen ninth after reporting a “little moment” through the first corner in his 208T16.

Robert Consani spun his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 and set the slowest time as a result. “I make a spin on the last corner before the finish but it’s okay. It’s only the Qualifying Stage. I choose the hard tyre to save the soft tyres for the rally.”

His Delta Rally team-mate, Bruno Magalhães, also said his hard compound Pirelli covers weren’t ideal for the damp conditions but the Portuguese was pleased with this tyre strategy after going 10th quickest.