Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala has taken the lead on Rallye Monte Carlo this morning following the first two stages.
Latvala began by setting the fourth best time in SS1, the 36.87 km Le Moulinon-Antraigues 1, trailing early leader and pre-event favourite, Sebastien Loeb by 22.2 seconds. However a decision to run on super softs with some studs at both the front and rear paid dividends in the next test and he was 52.7 seconds quicker than the Frenchman. He now returns to the 30 minute mid-day service in Valence with a 30.5 second cushion.
Loeb meanwhile, also ran with studs at the front and rear, but he opted for softs, and consequently was off the pace in Burzet-St Martial 1, trailing both the works Fords of Latvala and Petter Solberg, as well as Sebastien Ogier, who put in a fantastic time in his Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia S2000.
Petter is currently third overall post-SS2, 10.3 seconds off Loeb, while Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen lie fourth and fifth.
Sordo had been 'best of the rest' in the opening test, just 1 second off Loeb. However the MINI man hit a bridge in SS2 and damaged the suspension on his John Cooper Works WRC car.
Hirvonen made a solid start on his debut in the Citroen DS3 WRC and was third in the opening test, but struggled in SS2 and could only post the ninth best time.
Further back, Ogier is a very impressive sixth, vaulting up the order after that great time in SS2, while Evgeny Novikov lies seventh, the lead runner for the M-Sport Ford WRT, even though he hit a bank in SS2, ahead of Mathieu Arzeno's Peugeot 207 S2000 and team-mate Francois Delecour in eighth and ninth. Pierre Campana completes the top-ten in the second MINI WRC entry.
Of the rest, Proton's P-G Andersson is eleventh, and the lead runner in the SWRC - although only three drivers' entered this event, and one, his team-mate, Giandomenico Basso, retired in SS1, after going off the road.
Kevin Abbring, Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak hold positions 12 through to 14, with Matt Wilson, running under the Go Fast Energy WRT banner, 15th. Wilson's team-mate, Henning Solberg had a tough start and lost considerable time with differential issues. He is currently 29th.
The action now continues this afternoon with a repeat-run through both of this morning's tests to conclude the first day. SS3, Le Moulinon-Antraigues 2, is scheduled to start at 14.21 hours local time.
Rally Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 2 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 45mins 54.4secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 30.5secs
3. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 40.8secs
4. Dani Sordo
MINI WRC John Cooper Works WRC +00mins 44.1secs
5. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +01mins 04.0secs
6. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +01mins 10.9secs
7. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 17.1secs
8. Mathieu Arzeno
Peugeot 207 S2000 +01mins 35.7secs
9. Francois Delecour
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 48.8secs
10. Pierre Campana
MINI WRC John Cooper Works WRC +02mins 11.0secs
11. P-G Andersson
Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +02mins 13.3secs
12. Kevin Abbring
Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +02mins 16.5secs
13. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 22.3secs
14. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 55.1secs
15. Matthew Wilson
Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 57.0secs
16. Julien Maurin
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 04.1secs
17. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +03mins 33.3secs
18. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 04mins 56.5secs
SWRC standings after Stage 2:
1. P-G Andersson
Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 48mins 07.7secs
2. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +01mins 20.0secs
PWRC standings after Stage 2:
1. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 50mins 50.9secs
2. Louise Cook
Ford Fiesta ST +20mins 48.5secs
SS1. Giandomenico Basso
Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 Accident.
SS2. Lorenzo Bertelli
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Gearbox
* Note: There is no Rally 2 (as the SupeRally has been renamed for this year) on Rallye Monte Carlo.
all times unofficial