Next year, Rallye de France will move to the border region between England and Wales, just so it remains within a touching distance of Wales Rally GB. Then in 2017 we will see it move once again to another part of the world, but you can be sure it will be right next to another WRC event, because that’s how Rallye de France rolls these days. Now, after I laughed at this joke and you didn’t, let’s elaborate a bit on why moving back to Corsica is a good thing, on paper at least.
First and foremost, it’s the tradition and character of this event. Over the past decades, some of the most exciting but also tragic stories were written on the Corsican special stages. This is not just another tarmac event and it does not share its “flavour” with any of the remaining WRC rounds. Maybe even more important is the fact that Tour de Corse has an experienced team of organizers, which probably contributed a lot to it being introduced back into the WRC fold. Promoters and FFSA had to find an event and they had to do it quickly; while there is no shortage of rallies in France, you cannot just pick a rally and stick it into WRC calendar. Corsica was the most logical choice.
Of course I will now mention the fact that Corsica is an island and as such is not an ideal venue for a WRC event. Why did I mention this, I am not sure, but I hear it often so it must be true. And truth is worth repeating. Out of many complaints we’ve heard over the years from various decision makers or key WRC players, those concerning island events are the worst. There’s nothing more horrible than island based events, no, those really are the worst. In fact, they’re so bad that World Rally Championship banned islands from its calendar in 2010. True story. And that’s not all; if a car is to travel to a venue on a boat or a ferry, forget it, that event will run no more. I get all the safety concerns and issues with level of organization, but how utterly impossibly horrible it is to have an event on Corsica? It’s not like we’re forcing WORLD rally championship to travel all the way to Australia, or even worse, New Zealand. It’s Corsica, also known as an island next to Sardinia. Which is also an island. Hosting another WRC event. I get it when they complain about long haul events being expensive and complex to organize, but Tour de Corse is not such an event. If there is anything to complain about, it could be (maybe?) the level of organization, which can always be improved and such improvements should be mandatory for all WRC rallies; perhaps connections with mainland Europe could be improved, so that’s something local or state governments could potentially have a say in – those things could lead to complaints and criticism, rightfully so. But those are the same things potentially plaguing other, even mainland events. If WRC is looking for a long-term future in Corsica then maybe both sides will learn how to improve the effectiveness of all the elements making the WRC event, from logistics to safety and so on.
For now, I think and hope we should be happy that WRC got to keep its French round, even if this return to Corsica is a temporary one. Perhaps there is a long term future of Corsica in the WRC, it’s up to FFSA, the organizers and the WRC to make it happen, if all parties are interested in this project. If not, then perhaps another solution must be found, but let’s hope and pray it’s going to be a worthy one. In the meantime, to the island we’ll sail!
2015 Tour de Corse is scheduled to run from October 1 to 4. We have yet to hear from the ERC. No, the real ERC, with ALL events based in Europe.