On 2 May 1986, Henri Toivonen, his co-driver Sergio Cresto and Group B rally cars died in a spot that holds a strange beauty: an innocuous left-hand corner just before a wooded valley in Corsica, whose peace these days is in stark contrast to the fiery violence of the accident that claimed two young men’s lives at the height of their powers.
The quietly shocking thing about this left-hander, just seven kilometres out of Corte, is that there’s nothing special about it. Markku Alen, who was Toivonen’s Lancia team mate at the time and arrived at the crash scene two minutes after his compatriot went off, confirms the initial impression: “The corner was nothing special; really nothing. There were hundreds of corners like that one and hundreds that were much worse. I still don’t know what happened: was he too fast, was it something technical; was it something else? I think it will always be a mystery…”
The actual profile of the corner has changed a lot though: these days it’s a mild sweep to the left, with a modern low stone wall on the outside. Hop behind the wall and you’ll see the profile of the road as it used to be: a much sharper and narrower corner that is almost 90 degrees, with a gradual drop to the valley bellow.
Look down into the valley now and there’s not much to see either. The drop is not particularly steep but at the bottom the area is heavily wooded. There is a patch of trees in the middle that seem to look younger and greener than their neighbours, but it’s hard to know to whether your imagination is playing tricks on you.
What's sure is that this is a special place: a corner of Corsica that is forever Finland.