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GP Week : Issue 30
>> WRC InSIGHT Tarmac Temporada The WRC heads for its two-week tarmac double, Spain and Corsica, where the title could well be decided.MARTIN HOLMES looks forward to a busy fortnight T HE world rally championship re- emerges at the beginning of October with two successive back-to-back asphalt rounds, firstly in Spain then one weekend later in Corsica. Although rounds 12 and 13 are similarly classified in their surfaces they are poles apart in specifics, yet the cars entered by the teams are paired for both events by the FIA so that compromise build specifications have to be sought. These will be the last asphalt events in the championship this year, before the final rounds (Japan and then Britain) are fought out on gravel roads. Championship-wise these are events which are two of Citroen’s favourite territories so they already go with a strong advantage, with more than one clear event’s points lead in the makes’ championship. And both of them are events Loeb has won the last three years … The rallies may have tarmac as their common denominator but Spain is the country with smooth stage roads, using short corners with straights in between. Corsica is the rally with long bends, traditionally with bumpy roads though they have have become smoother over the years. Weatherwise, Spain is stable, while Corsica is less so, but over the years this factor has reduced as the area covered by the event has become smaller. The two events also have very wide disparity of background. Spain was born out of the marriage of two events, the Catalunya and the Costa Brava Rallies and was based at Lloret de Mar up the coast to the north of Barcelona. For many years it was a mixed surface event, tarmac and gravel, held at a time of year when ice on the high mountains was commonplace – once there was deep snow in the region during the event. To comply with FIA’s requirements, the event then stabilised onto an all-asphalt surface, with stages essentially based in the hinterland behind the Costa Brava, travelling south to stages to the south side of Barcelona. Later everything moved south to the Tarragona region, where it has been exclusively run for the past three years. The two rallies are being run on successive weekends, the last time that back-to-back events are planned for the foreseeable future. In a tight logistics move, the teams leave Spain as soon as possible after the finish, making their way up to Marseilles overnight for ferry transport to Corsica. Before the event was required by international rules to be more compact, the Tour de Corse lived up to its name. Its route 43