Scrutineering and administrative checks, which began on Saturday afternoon because of the huge, unprecedented number of entries for the 21st edition of the Tour de Corse Historique, were finally completed yesterday evening on the port in Porto Vecchio.
Over two-and-a-half days the 350 cars entered for the three eligible categories: VHC (Historic Racing Cars), VHRC (Sporting Regularity Cars) and Legend (untimed cars), and their drivers and co-drivers representing 15 different nationalities followed one another through the different checks, received their race number and made the final tweaks during fettling-in runs.
Last year’s winners in the VHC category Alain and Sylvie Oreille will set off today in their Porsche bearing the number 1. The former double Group N World Rally champion will be out to score a second victory on the trot. Other contenders for the topmost step of the podium in the VHC category include Philippe Gache (victorious on two occasions in the Tour de Corse Historique in 2011 and 2012) back with his Group B Mazda RX7 and Vincent Landais (co-driver in the WRC) at his side. Winner in 2018, Pierre-Manuel Jenot with Slo as navigator is another potential front-runner like several drivers from Corsica itself. They include Christophe Casanova (2nd in the 2020 event) and Marc Valliccioni in their BMW M3 as well as Joël Marchetti (Ford Escort Mk1), Jean-Baptiste Botti (Porsche 911 SC) and several other locals who are determined to shine on home turf.
The VHRS category also promises some great battles. Bruno Saby, a brilliant participant in the World, European and French Rally Championships, winner of the Dakar in 1993 and the Off-Road World Cup in 2005, will also return to the scene of his former exploits. The winner of the 1986 Tour de Corse WRC will combine the pleasure of historic car racing and his involvement in a cause that’s dear to his heart, the fight against cancer (www.espoir-isere-cancer.com), whose colours will be flown by his Ford Capri identical to the one in which he took part in the 1970 Tour de Corse with his father. The crew Jean-François and François Nicoules in their Ford Escort RS 2000 are renowned specialists in regularity rallies and will be out to defend their reputation against many rivals.
Another prestigious name topping the bill for the 21st edition is Bernard Béguin. Four-time French rally champion (1979, 1991, 1992 and 1993), runner-up in the European Championship in 1980, the man from Grenoble will be at the wheel of a Porsche prepared by his former tuner Louis Meznarie as a gravel car and a reminder that he won the 1987 Tour de Corse in a BMW M3 Prodrive, an event counting for the World Rally Championship at the time.
And last but not least: Jacques Laffite was spotted in the parc fermé on Monday afternoon. The former Ligier and Williams driver (176 F1 Grands Prix to his name with six victories between 1974 and 1986) who’s a lover of historic events came to encourage the crew Philippe Vandromme-Frédéric Vivier in their Lancia Stratos entered in VHC.
THE DAY'S PROGRAMME
The VHRS category will be the first to set off from the parc fermé this morning at 11:00 for SS1 - Col de Pelza/Gualdariccio – whose length is 11,573 km and the first competitor is expected there at 11:53. Then comes SS2 - Levie/Carbini – with the first car roaring off at 12:26 over a stage measuring 7,499 km. The arrival of the first cars in the Porto-Vecchio service park is scheduled for 13:16 with the finish in the parc fermé three hours later.
Yesterday, competitors had to cope with wet stormy conditions, but today they should enjoy much more clement weather with clear skies on the opening day of the 21st running of the Tour de Corse Historique.
THE RALLY, DAY AFTER DAY
Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 October / Porto-Vecchio
Scrutineering and administrative checks
Monday 4 October / Porto-Vecchio
Scrutineering and administrative checks, warmup
Tuesday 5 October Porto-Vecchio - Porto-Vecchio
SS 1/SS 2, finish Porto-Vecchio
Wednesday 6 October / Porto-Vecchio - Borgo
SS/3-4-5-6, finish Borgo
Thursday 7 October / Borgo – Calvi
SS/7-8-9-10, finish Calvi
Friday 8 October / Calvi - Propriano
SS/11-12-13-14, finish Propriano
Saturday 9 October / Propriano - Porto-Vecchio
SS/15-16-17-18, finish Porto-Vecchio
ELIGIBLE CATEGORIES: VHC / VHRS / LEGENDE
VHC (Historic racing cars):
- Historic competition vehicles from 1947 to 1985 that have a PTH
- Vehicles from the classic competition group between 1977 and 1981 with a three-section passport.
- Competition vehicles from the J2 period (1986 to 1990) with a PTH
VHRS (Sporting regularity historic vehicles):
- Vehicles from 1947 to 1990, choice of four average speeds (High - Intermediate - Low - Reduced)
LEGEND (exhibition without timing):
- Vehicles from 1947 onwards
Image: Another legendary car, this very rare Aston Martin DB2 of which only 309 were built in the early 1950s.