True to form, he was once again leaving his preparations late. “I haven’t seen the car yet” he says, on the eve of the rally, “but I’m testing it in an hour. I know it will be a good car though as it is put together by a great team, who have won here before, it will be better than the one I used to race.”
It might seem like a nonchalant attitude on the treacherous roads of Corsica that make claim to the unwanted record of having the highest fatality rate of any WRC round, but Bernard is not here to compete. “I will take it easy for the first couple of days, get used to the car, but then I will start to push,” he says with a glint in his eye, suggesting that his form of taking it easy is slightly different to the rest of us.
He’s clearly eager to get going, but just what is it like rallying around Corsica? “Tiring!” is his answer, “there is never any rest, just left turn after right turn, no straights. It is terrible for the co-driver”, probably a fair understatement for an event that is known as the ‘10,000 Turns Rally’ — in reality more like 20,000 corners after somebody actually counted them.
The 1987 rally was a WRC high point for both Béguin and BMW, neither of whom have won again at world championship level. Béguin did have plenty more success in his career, with European rally runners up positions and those other three French title triumphs, behind the wheel of Sierras and an Escort. Not to mention entries at Le Mans and podium finishes at the 24 Hours of Spa, as well as Dakar and ice racing campaigns, the career of Béguin was long and eclectic, but his heart belongs in Corsica.
“There are two rallies that are important to French drivers” he says, “Tour de Corse and the Monte-Carlo. I didn’t manage to win at Monte-Carlo, but I did win this event and to me it will always be special.”