I’ve been working on the legendary Tour de Corse rally all weekend, where the Tuthill Porsche team has just won its class and the inaugural R-GT Cup with the exciting Porsche 997 R-GT rally car.
Victory on Tour de Corse – Round 11 of the 2015 World Rally Championship and the fourth round of the FIA R-GT Cup – is the second win for Tuthill’s Porsche R-GT car this season, following a proper result on January’s Monte Carlo Rally, opening round of WRC 2015. Four-time WRC winner, François Delecour, has driven the R-GT Porsche all season, but brought a new driving partner to Corsica in the form of Sabrina de Castelli: a Tour de Corse veteran with numerous class wins and podiums to her credit.
Pairing Frenchman Delecour’s experience on the Tour de Corse, including a win in 1993, with de Castelli’s considerable expertise on this historic WRC event proved an unbeatable combination on a Tour de Corse blighted by the worst weather seen on the Mediterranean island for more than thirty years. Torrential rain washed away some rally roads and led to multiple stage cancellations.
François Delecour Porsche wins WRC Tour de Corse
Starting the second day of the rally just twelve seconds behind season-long R-GT rival, Romain Dumas, Delecour was prepared for the slippery first stage of the day. As Dumas suffered a puncture and then car damage in the treacherous conditions, Delecour rocketed past to seize the R-GT lead. Dumas failed to arrive at the following stage, later announcing retirement from the Tour de Corse rally.
Losing Dumas did not hand Delecour a guaranteed win, as the Corsican landscape with its unforgiving stone walls, sheer rock faces and 500-metre vertical drops can always bite back. The Tuthill Porsche crew and its drivers still had to get the car to the finish, which it did with delight on lunchtime on Sunday.
A New Chapter in Porsche Rally Heritage
“Rallying is not about getting one thing right,” said our friend Richard Tuthill at the end. “This is a sport where any one weakness will damage a team’s ability to compete and to finish. Just as in the historic rallies where we earned our reputation and continue to excel, it is our team’s ability to build Porsche 911s that perform and finish rallies that has really made the difference.
“We fought a long battle to bring GT cars back to WRC rallying, and our first season with the Porsche R-GT has been much harder work than anyone expected. Winning the FIA R-GT title before the last round is satisfying and it is also terrific to add Tour de Corse to our team’s list of victories. This rally looms large in Porsche folklore, after Jean-Luc Therier’s memorable win here three decades ago. We’re proud to have written an entirely new chapter in Porsche rally heritage.”
Delecour’s Dream of WRC Porsche wins
“What a place to win a rally and the FIA Cup,” said François Delecour. “My dream was to bring Porsche back to the WRC and let fans of modern WRC see how exciting rally used to be. This year with Tuthill Porsche has been a huge challenge, but the team is really born to rally, so we fit together perfectly.
“Tour de Corse is magical: everything a great rally should be. It is fast, spectacular, beautiful and completely unforgettable, just like our Porsche R-GT. Thanks to Richard Tuthill and his hard-working team, my co-drivers Dominique and Sabrina and all the great fans of rallying who have made this year one of my favourites. I am so happy to win this: it is just a dream come true.”
The final round of FIA R-GT 2015 is ERC Rallye du Valais at the end of October. After that, the Porsche team heads for Kenya and the Safari Classic Rally. A busy end of year for all of us rally fans!