Ford Rallye Sport’s Markko Martin says changeable weather will pose a big challenge in this weekend’s Rallye de France, but his team-mate, Francois Duval, welcomes Corsica’s tricky conditions.

Ford Rallye Sport’s Markko Martin says changeable weather will pose a big challenge in this weekend’s Rallye de France, but his team-mate, Francois Duval, welcomes Corsica’s tricky conditions.


The rally will be staged on the tight, twisty asphalt roads of the Mediterranean and with only four, long stages each day, the seasonal inclement weather will make the choice of suitable tyres a major gamble for teams. Martin is currently just two points behind Citroën driver Carlos Sainz, who lies third in the championship.


“It’s quite a straightforward rally if conditions are consistent,” said Martin. “But the weather is the main challenge. An island setting and the mountains mean things can change quickly, and it’s easy to be caught out on the wrong tyres for the conditions.


“The trend has been for smoother and less twisty roads, but last year’s event had some bumpy sections. There are quite a few new roads this year, so we’ll have to see what they’re like in the recce. It’s a tricky event to recce, because some stages pass through villages, and it’s difficult to make accurate notes because of the traffic and cars parked on the natural driving line.


“But the Focus has proved its pace on asphalt, and I hope we can finally take a win on that surface with this car,” the Estonian added.


By contrast, Duval is hoping for mixed weather, as the conditions are more likely to be similar to events in his home country of Belgium. He is also facing a tough fight with a former double world champion – Peugeot’s Marcus Gronholm – for fifth in the standings, and is just two points behind his rival.


“If the conditions are changeable, then that will be good for me and a win would be possible,” Duval said. “If it’s dry, I won’t be so happy because then the advantage won’t rest with me. Last year, I finished third and a podium is what I’m aiming for again."