Loeb still in control on Rallye Monte Carlo
20 January 2012
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has concluded day three of Rallye Monte Carlo still comfortably out front.
Loeb started the third leg with a 1 minute 37.2 seconds advantage and while he was only sixth in the opening test, he gained considerable time in SS12, after correctly opting to run with studs on all four tyres as snow, ice and rain made conditions tricky. This afternoon included just one test, and while the weather throw up no surprises, Seb still stretched his lead further. He will now go into the penultimate day of the event with a 2 minute 12.4 second cushion over his closest rival.
“It has been a very difficult day,” Loeb said. “It was difficult to get the tyre choice right this morning. However this afternoon this test [SS13] was like a normal tarmac stage. I took no risks and had no problems. I really wanted to go to Monte Carlo tomorrow.”
Dani Sordo meanwhile is now a seemingly comfortable second, after Petter Solberg lost a huge chunk of time in SS12. The MINI WRC Team man gained more time in SS13 too - and finishes the day 1 minute 6.8 seconds up on 'Hollywood'.
“I am happy with how it has gone today,” Sordo said. “In the first two stages the car felt good and I am happy now with the choice we took as we took a lot of time off Petter. In the first stage it was good as I had the right slick tyres. In the second, even though the studs would have been better, I know overall we took the right choice. We still need to stay focused as anything can happen on this rally. If the conditions are okay for the rest of the rally, it will be okay, but if it starts raining or snowing we have to be careful as in this rally it is very easy to make a mistake.”
Solberg was less pleased with his day and with Mikko Hirvonen setting the pace in SS12 and SS13, he is now fighting more for third, than second. Indeed having been almost 2 minutes up on Mikko last night, the Norwegian now finds that gap has been slashed to 23.8 seconds, a puncture near the end of SS13, after he over cut a corner, doing little to help his cause.
“Overall, it's been a good day,” said Solberg. “On the last stage, I made a mistake – I cut a corner very slightly and hit a rock with my front wheel. It was a shame because I was one second up on Loeb and four seconds up on Sordo at that point. I'm looking forward to the stages tomorrow and to fighting to preserve my podium position. That's got to be my goal now. The focus has changed after this morning from fighting Dani [Sordo] for second to holding onto third place. After a difficult day I'm relieved to be here.”
Further back, Evgeny Novikov is a lonely fifth, 45.2 seconds off that scrap for the final podium position and over 2 minutes up on his M-Sport Ford team-mate, Francois Delecour in sixth. The Russian has set some good times though, and was third quickest in both SS11 and SS13.
“Stage 13 was quite difficult. It was a very fast stage. We had the right tyre choice with the soft tyres so we could push. We got a good time so for sure I am happy. All is good and we will work hard to maintain this pace tomorrow.”
Delecour has also done well in his Fiesta RS WRC and the 49-year-old was even second quickest in the opening test of the day.
“SS13 [the final one of the day] was so fast and dry,” Delecour noted. “It was just like being on the Tour de Corse – it wasn't like Monte Carlo at all! It was a nice stage and I'm happy with our performance. I wasn't that far off Loeb's pace. I was losing only about 0.6 seconds a kilometre. I really enjoyed today. Okay, the rally isn't over yet, but I think everybody is up to speed now and there probably won't be any more surprises. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Pierre Campana lies seventh in the second works MINI WRC Team entry and the Frenchman made a point by going third quickest in SS12. He may have benefitted from being on the right tyres, but he was also seventh fastest this afternoon in SS13. He has now set ten top-ten stage times from a possible 13.
“This morning in the first stage I was careful to manage the tyres. In the second stage my tyres were in good condition,” Campana stated. “The stage was very tricky because at the start it was raining and then at the end it was covered in ice. However, all in all this was a very good day for me and I am enjoying the rally more and more.”
Ott Tanak trails the Frenchman, ahead of SWRC class leader and Proton Motorsport man, P-G Andersson.
“SS13 was a dry and clean stage. I was surprised the conditions were so good - it wasn't what we had expected. I had four super-soft tyres which didn't work out for me in those conditions. It wasn't possible to go any faster than we did,” Tanak stated. “We'll keep pushing on tomorrow. As it has been every day so far, everything will be about the tyres. If the weather is fine, it should be good fun on the Col de Turini. I've heard a lot about it! If we make it to the end of the rally, I'll be happy.”
Armindo Araujo rounds out the top ten, ahead of Martin Prokop, Kevin Abbring, Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg in positions 11 through to 14.
“I had the super-soft tyres for stage 13, when really I should have had softs. But we went as well as we could have gone. We are here and that is all that counts, so I am happy,” Henning said. “We'll see what happens tomorrow, but for sure it is good to be here.”
“We had no problems in this afternoon's stage,” Wilson added. “The road was clean and dry which was a big difference from this morning's conditions. Overall it was a good stage. If it is like this tomorrow it will be nice, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there.”
Craig Breen is still 15th and second in the SWRC, despite suffering a puncture in the final test of the day after hitting a bridge.
In the PWRC, Michal Kosciuszko leads in his Mitsubishi, as he has done from the off, with Louise Cook – the only other PWRC runner – second in her Fiesta ST.
The event now shifts base from Valence to Monte Carlo and day four on Saturday includes two loops of two stages with around 84 competitive kilometres on the bill. SS14, the 23.41 km-run through Moulinet-La Bollene Vesubie 1, is scheduled to start tomorrow at 15.11 hours local time [14.11 hours British time].
Rally Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3hours 31mins 25.2secs M
2. Dani Sordo MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +02mins 12.4secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 19.2secs M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +03mins 43.0secs M
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 28.2secs M
6. Francois Delecour M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 39.1secs
7. Pierre Campana MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +07mins 45.1secs M
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +08mins 44.8secs M
9. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +13mins 20.8secs S
10. Armindo Araujo Armindo Araujo WRT MINI Cooper Works WRC +14mins 40.7secs M
11. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +14mins 42.5secs
12. Kevin Abbring Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +15mins 00.2secs
13. Matthew Wilson Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +16mins 09.2secs
14. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +17mins 58.7secs
15. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +20mins 31.9secs S
16. Bryan Bouffier Peugeot 207 S2000 +24mins 54.2secs
17. Cedric Robert Citroen DS3 R3T +25mins 46.7secs
18. Michael Burri Peugeot 207 S2000 +25mins 47.4secs
21. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +29mins 47.3secs P
SWRC standings after Stage 13:
1. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 3hours 44mins 46.0secs S
2. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +07mins 11.1secs S
PWRC standings after Stage 13:
1. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 4hours 01mins 12.5secs P
2. Louise Cook Ford Fiesta ST +1hour 22mins 19.6secs P
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
SS5. Peter van Merksteijn Sr van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical
SS10. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Accident
* Note: There is no Rally 2 (as the SupeRally has been renamed for this year) on Rallye Monte Carlo.
all times unofficial