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Volkswagen’s new Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets, said the Tour de Corse “is a genuine classic in the WRC calendar and a real challenge for the driver”.  But, what is the challenge that makes this event so popular?  

Like many of the top drivers, this is only the second time Hayden Paddon has competed on this event.  First impressions were still fresh in the mind when he gave this analysis.  

“It is a lot of variables.  Managing tyres is going to be key.  The rally may have started dry, but it seemed as though the rain may or may not come for Saturday morning.”

Correct meteorological prediction is vital, especially with so few individual stages on the event.  

“There is another aspect. Of course there are a lot of changes in road surfaces, and when you’ve got a 50 kilometre stage it’s almost like three or four different stages in one.  So you can’t really have the perfect car set-up, you have to adapt.  

“Of course, when there are so many corners you can’t recall it all in your head, so the pace notes become much more crucial here than on other rallies,” Paddon said.  

Because many drivers have only once rallied here before, there is none of the usual WRC factor of familiarity with stages, added to which the organisers have made a 70% change to the route compared with 2015.   

And, there is another factor which is baffling.  For a country where drivers are traditionally at a disadvantage on the asphalt roads, how is it that Finnish drivers enjoy this event?   

How as it that Markku Alen won in both 1983 and 1984, that Jari-Matti Latvala won last year (following on from winning the equally all-asphalt Rallye de France Rally in Alsace in 2014), and he even won Group N in 2005?  

There are hidden secrets in the hills of Corsica.   

- Martin Holmes 

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