For the past 23 years the Tour de Corse Historique has become an unmissable event for many historic drivers, some of whom have prestigious rally credentials and like to come and drive the mythical Corsican special stages. This year, the organisers received more than 500 applications and, in the end, accepted 388 cars, with crews of 14 different nationalities. Despite a few withdrawals, 205 cars in Competition, 153 in Regularity and this year 14 in Legend, were on the start line on Tuesday morning, October 10. Frédéric Lombard Reports.
The Corsican population always comes to the side of the road in large numbers to admire and listen to the melodious song of engines and be reminded of the glorious years of rallying on this island and around the world. As every year, the start was given in Porto-Vecchio, a city that also hosts the technical and administrative checks and the start and finish podium. Amongst the favourites, Christophe Vaison, winner in 2014 and 2015, was back, as were Alain and Sylvie Oreille, winners in 2020 and 2022, who were out for another win, along with a driver with a very long and varied list of achievements, Romain Dumas, winner in 2016, here with famous co-driver Denis Giraudet at his side.
Also back, was local driver Olivier Capanaccia, unlucky leader in 2022 who had to retire with a broken engine and who was looking for revenge. The fight for victory was therefore very open in the Competition category with a superb line-up of heavy hitters. On the programme for this 23rd edition was a 972km course with 18 specials totalling some 394km of time trials spread over five days.
On Tuesday morning the start from the parc fermé in the port of Porto-Vecchio took place with only two specials on the programme, SS2 having been cancelled due to roadworks. In SS1, Dumas (Porsche 911) set the stage at 10’’ ahead of Capanaccia (BMW M3) and 16” quicker than Oreille. In the next stage, Dumas and Capanaccia set the same time but the rally was to experience a terrible tragedy, when two competitors collided leading to one of the cars leaving the road and striking down three spectators.
Unfortunately, Vincent Ciabrini died instantly. He was a very well-known person in Porto-Vecchio who was helping sponsor some Corsican crews, who immediately withdrew from the race. As for the other two people who were very seriously injured, they were taken to the hospital in Ajaccio. A veritable blanket of lead fell over the rally.
The next day, the three scheduled time trials were cancelled as everyone observed a day of mourning and the competitors sadly drove to the parc fermé located near Bastia airport.
Rear Frédéric’s full report in our December 2023 issue
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