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GP Week : Issue 70
Goodbye Corsica IT was sad to hear that the French federation has finally decided that its World Championship rally, to be held next in October 2010, is to be run in mainland France rather than the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Even in the days of former FIA President Jean Marie Balestre, the possibility of the move away from Corsica was widely mooted, but as can be imagined it was then a political issue. This year we are assured the issue is not political but financial, because the Alsace region presented a better financial plan than the Corsicans. What has not yet really been clarified is the position of the FIA in all this. The world championship calendar is the responsibility of the FIA but they have seconded the recommendation of events to the Global Promoter, the ISC Promoter, which is torn between two conflicting ideals. It advocates an event which offers a classic world rallying position, and also event which brings rallying closer to larger areas of population. The only way that Sardinia retained the ISC's blessing was to promise a start in Rome, a ferry boat trip overnight and then the stages on the island. Corsica was never given such an option; they were out on budget grounds If ever there is going to be an expression of disappointment of a choice of a world championship event, it is going to be now. In the minds of drivers, fans and purists, Corsica stands head and shoulders above any rival asphalt rally. This is a rally which had pretty much everything you would want from an asphalt event. It had an historical tradition of way-out cars, amazing drivers, and was an exhausting challenge. It had the attraction of a most beautiful island. It had stages which went flat out through villages. But it wasn't all motoring heaven. The suddenly changeable weather created endless worries for competitors. The community life was special. Strikes were commonplace -- though actually never during rally time. It seems that the Tour de Corse week was when the people of the island worked together! And this was certainly a land of secrets. One day we woke up to find our car was intact but the number plates were missing. We went into a hillside village café and all its inhabitants moved to the door, sidling with backs to the wall, staring at us. And making travel plans was a nightmare. Flights were direct until the week of the rally, when you had to arrange connecting flights and you found that flights often went at different times every day. The people of Corsica were always nice, when they knew you. Their hotel was never full if you asked to stay, Their rally drivers were a class apart. In the days of free practice, local drivers often did not bother to make pace- The Rally of Corsica has a rich history but it is, it seems, about to end. MARTIN HOLMES reflects one of the great WRC venues 40