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Loeb ends opening day of Monte in P1

18 January 2012

Sebastien Loeb heads the pack at the close of the opening day of Rallye Monte Carlo, after Jari-Matti Latvala rolled in SS4 and threw away a 30.1 second advantage.

Loeb began by setting the pace this morning in SS1, when he was 1 second up on Dani Sordo's MINI. However in SS2, Jari-Matti Latvala leapt from fourth to first, beating Loeb by 52.7 seconds, after an inspired tyre choice, prompted following discussions with his new Ford team-mate, Petter Solberg.

Latvala then maintained his 30-odd second advantage over Loeb in SS3, before disaster struck in the final test of the day, the repeat-run through the 30.48km Burzet - St Martial test, when the Finn failed to hear a pacenote and rolled his Fiesta RS WRC around 10 kilometres in. Although Latvala and co-driver, Miikka Antilla both escaped unharmed they were unable to continue. Furthermore with no Rally 2 on this event (the new name for the SupeRally), they won't be able to rejoin the fold on Thursday either.

Loeb is thus now comfortably out front in his Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC car, more than a minute up Sordo and seemingly well placed at this early stage.

Sordo meanwhile had a largely positive day and despite hitting a bridge in SS2 and damaging the suspension on his John Cooper Works WRC car, he finishes 'best of the rest', having posted three top-four stage times.

Petter Solberg is next up and now the sole representative for the Ford World Rally Team. The Norwegian began with the fifth best time in SS1 this morning, before then going second in SS2, third in SS3 and fourth in SS4. He heads back to the service in Valence just 1 second adrift of P2.

Next up is Sebastian Ogier - a super impressive performance from the young Frenchman, especially given he is running in a S2000 car. The Volkswagen Motorsport man got the maximum from his Skoda Fabia and remarkably was third in SS2 this morning - 21.4 seconds up on Loeb!

Evgeny Novikov rounds out the top five, just 5.4 seconds behind, even though he had a scare when he hit a bank in SS2 in his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC.

Mikko Hirvonen had a pretty disappointing start to his first event with Citroen and concluded the leg down in sixth, already 2.5 minutes off Loeb in the sister works DS3. Mikko began well with the third best time in SS1. However after that it was all downhill, with times towards the wrong end of the top ten in SS2 and SS3. He was only 11th in SS4.

Francois Delecour shined on his first outing in a WRC car for nearly 10 years and concluded the day with the second best time in Burzet - St Martial 2. The 49-year-old will now be hoping to maintain that momentum on day two when he continues aboard his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC.

Further back, Pierre Campana is eighth in the second works MINI WRC Team entry, albeit more than a minute off P7. Campana managed two top-ten times today, his best effort a sixth quickest time in SS1.

Of the rest, Ott Tanak and P-G Andersson round out the top ten, the latter on course for the SWRC class honours, although with only three runners nominating this event, it is not exactly closely contested.

In terms of retirements, in addition to Latvala, day 1 also claimed a number of other scalps, most noticeably Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC man Thierry Neuville, Ford Fiesta RS WRC privateer Julien Maurin, P-G's Proton team-mate, Giandomenico Basso and PWRC runner Lorenzo Bertelli.

In the PWRC, Michal Kosciuszko leads, although again, like the SWRC, only two competitors remain.

The action now continues on Thursday and includes two loops of three stages with around 132 competitive kilometres on the bill. SS5, the 19.00 km-run through Labatie d'Andaure-Lalouvesc 1, gets underway at 09.33 hours local time [08.33 hours British time].


Rally Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 4 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 30mins 30.1secs M
2. Dani Sordo MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +01mins 04.2secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 05.2secs M
4. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +02mins 21.1secs
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 26.5secs M
6. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 30.0secs M
7. Francois Delecour M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 49.4secs
8. Pierre Campana MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +04mins 09.7secs M
9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 15.3secs M
10. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +04mins 33.8secs S

Others

11. Kevin Abbring Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +04mins 43.6secs
12. Matthew Wilson Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 05.1secs
13. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 31.3secs
14. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +07mins 51.8secs S
15. Armindo Araujo Armindo Araujo WRT MINI Cooper Works WRC +08mins 38.7secs M
16. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +10mins 28.3secs
17. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +10mins 29.1secs P


SWRC standings after Stage 4:

1. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 1hour 35mins 03.9secs S
2. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +03mins 18.0secs S


PWRC standings after Stage 4:

1. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hour 40mins 59.2secs P
2. Louise Cook Ford Fiesta ST 40mins 18.6secs P


Notable retirements:*

SS1. Giandomenico Basso Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 Accident. S
SS2. Lorenzo Bertelli Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Gearbox P
SS3. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
SS4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Rolled M
SS4. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Retired

* Note: There is no Rally 2 (as the SupeRally has been renamed for this year) on Rallye Monte Carlo.


all times unofficial


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