After spending the first half of the season getting to grips the World Rally Championship with the Renault Sport Rally Team’s Clio R3T, Michaël Burri and Anderson Levratti upped their pace at last week’s Tour de Corse. With the French round barely finished, the Swiss pair have already begun preparations for Rally de España, which will be followed shortly afterwards by Wales Rally GB (27-30 October).
"It means we’re sitting not around mulling things over, we can get straight back out there," commented a positive-sounding Michaël Burri. "It’s not easy in terms of our timetables but it can be an advantage to be competing quickly after a successful event, so we’re going to try and build on what we showed last time out. We’re also going to try and maintain the same sense of togetherness in the team because that was undoubtedly one of our strengths in Corsica."
Rally de España, however, is not like any other event on the WRC calendar, competitors tackling gravel stages on day one before taking on tarmac roads on the next two legs. "The fact that the majority of the rally is held on tarmac is a good thing for us because it’s my favourite surface," noted Michaël. "Having said that, I do enjoy racing on gravel, even though I have less experience and am less comfortable on it. I’ll be driving with total confidence because I know that Clio R3T is reliable and competitive on both surfaces."
Sylvain Alanore, Renault Sport Rally Team Manager, confirmed this determination to keep up the momentum. "We have to adopt the same approach as during the Tour de Corse," he explained. "Michaël’s confidence is back on tarmac and we need to make the most of it. The field won’t be as strong as it was in Corsica, so that should give us an opportunity to feature more prominently near the front."
Following the shakedown on Thursday, 13 October, the rally will get underway in the evening with the Barcelona super special stage, more than a hundred kilometres from the service park. On Friday, the crews will complete two loops of three gravel stages (115 kilometres), without a midday service break. In a prolonged service on Friday evening, the teams will adapt the set-up of the cars for the weekend’s tarmac stages. Saturday’s leg will feature two loops of three stages, plus the Villaplana and Salou speed tests, making a total of almost 140 kilometres. The rally concludes with its shortest leg on Sunday, featuring two stages, each contested twice, covering close to 64 kilometres.