The WRC format-busting Tour de Corse begins on Friday in the second all-asphalt round of the season. In this opinion post I will explain my rally predictions, who I have picked for my fantasy team and why.
This Rally has now passed, don’t forget to check out the Tour de Corse Analysis.
Championship leader Tanak is currently the best driver out there who can overturn an issue, mistake or time deficit. He has an ability on all surfaces and drives the car most drivers would choose. If anything is likely to bring him down in Corsica it will be punctures or other damage caused by excessive corner cutting as I asserted in Monte-Carlo. He makes my team because he is Tornado Tanak and I expect stage wins, a podium and a fight whatever happens.
Ogier is my favourite for the win with only a few drivers coming close. Few drivers know how to manage rallies quite like Ogier and last year’s event was the perfect example. After a strong Friday he cruised through Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t disagree more with Colin Clark’s latest Kitchen Table where he said Ogier has lost his desire to win. He has won 2/3 rallies this season, the same number of wins that won him the championship in 2017! 2019 could be his best title shot for years. He is in my team as I expect a similar performance to 2018. It’s possible the Citroen C3 won’t suit the Corsican roads or may have the issues as seen in Monte but with Seb I’m prepared to gamble.
I’m unsure right now where we are with Neuville. He has the best average rally time rating (RTR – see right) this season and won here two years ago. His performance in Monte was fantastic and could have beaten Ogier. I need to see this fight from Thierry again in Corsica to have faith in him, the car, and the team’s belief and support in his title push. And based on previous years I don’t have much faith in the Hyundai i20 for this round. Thierry is the last of the three driver’s who can seemingly pull anything out of the bag when necessary, but he is definitely third in that list.
Kris Meeke crashed out spectacularly in Corsica 2018 in one of many incidents that got him sacked by Citroen. Three rounds into 2019 with Toyota however and he is the only driver who has driven every kilometre this season. (Albeit a technicality.) He has gelled with the Toyota and had a great showing in Monte, particularly on the Power Stage. However, that Kilometres stat proves he has the finish first mentality where a good result requires others to fall out. He also suffered multiple punctures in Monte like Tanak did and I think this is down to a driving style that I’m not comfortable in picking. However I do expect a full attack on the Power Stage again.
Evans has a few reasons to be in anybody’s picks. He has run well in Corsica before, particularly in WRC2. We know he has freedom from the team to push for the win. And outside the top 3 he has the best median 2019 RTR. But that is forgiving of his off in Monte-Carlo as his mean average RTR puts him 9th. The point is out of three events he has had one retirement and two very good results. It’s that freedom to push that really makes Elfyn one of my options for a third driver but also think he is also hit or miss.
Lappi has only had one good rally in 2019 where he drove with a dose of fortune to 2nd in Rally Sweden. Therefore I believe he owes himself a good rally. It’s possible he could drive too safe but he has ability as shown last year where he set four stage win. His karting background suggests he is more capable on asphalt than many would believe too. He could make my team but Evans is the affordable choice.
How can you not pick the greatest rally driver of all time, Loeb on asphalt? For me it’s when he is driving a Hyundai. I hope this theory is disproved but we have not seen Loeb and the i20 blend well at all. This should show particularly well in Corsica. In the coming weeks I shall write a post on how the expected points championship is developing. I can say now that the results in Monte and Sweden were not down to his own performance.
I feel I have to apologies for saying this but I’m not sure who has the lowest confidence in JML, me or him. Maybe he has walked under a ladder or smashed a mirror as it is not happening for him this year. Yes he won in Australia and was very strong in Spain last year, but Spain disappeared due to the bad luck that it’s said is made by a driver. Many picked him as a championship outsider before the season, but he needs to be more clinical and fiery combined. Though I am a fan and know he loves this sport as much as I do, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he announced his retirement later this year unless he can turn it round.
Sordo seems to have much the same luck as Latvala but only when he is going well. Mexico was a fantastic example where he had a great Friday until the alternator let him down. He hasn’t gone as well in Corsica in the past as other events. Whilst I agree in most tarmac events he is the pick, I’m not sure he was the right choice over Mikkelsen for this Tour de Corse. He has to show us he is but I’m not sure the team would allow it right now!
M-Sport team principal Rich Millener has openly said he is allowing Suninen to push and find the limits. And Teemu has obliged on every event so far this season! This is his first Tour de Corse in a WRC spec car and I don’t think pushing him, however talented he may be, is the right thing to do. But there is no other objective so he could be a hit or miss
like Evans but I am not expecting it.
My Tour de Corse Team
So in my team for Rally Corsica I am picking Ott Tanak, Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans with WRC2 support I shall keep a mystery for now. I look forward to watching and seeing my thoughts prove wrong.
My podium predictions are 1. Ogier 2. Tanak 3. Lappi.
An early Power Stage call: 1. Meeke 2.Tanak 3. Ogier 4. Neuville 5. Loeb.
As always if you disagree let me know or if you dare, share your picks @WRCStan!
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