PG Andersson admitted that his retirement from the opening round of the World Rally Championship season had been the perfect reminder of how cruel the sport can be.
Andersson was in dominant form amongst the SWRC runners at the wheel of his Proton Satria Neo S2000, winning twelve stages to establish a healthy lead over his nearest challenger in class and also sit inside the top ten overall.
However, his hopes of a winning start to his SWRC campaign came to an end when a fuel leak on the penultimate day caused a fire under the bonnet that put him out
“Not far into the stage, we thought we could smell fuel in the car,” Andersson reflected. “I thought maybe it was a leak, but a leak inside the car rather than anything more serious. Then, a couple of kilometres before we got to [Col de] Turini, we had a warning light flash in the car telling us we had low fuel pressure.
“About 15 seconds after that, the fire went up and it was quite a big fire to begin with. We pulled over and jumped out of the car. The fire went down quite quickly and we got the hand-held extinguisher out and put the flames down through the air vent in the bonnet. And then we watched as our seven-minute lead disappeared. Unbelievable. We had driven sensibly: you can't say so much about the speed, we hadn't really pushed or anything, just no risks.
“The result was there and we have just missed out on it. This sport can be tough, very tough, sometimes.”
Andersson's retirement capped a tough start to the season for the Proton team, with Giandomenico Basso having having crashed out on the opening day.
“Ultimately, this is a disappointing event for the team but we have to take the positives from here,” team boss Chris Mellors said. “We have to look at the fact that we were the fastest SWRC car throughout the event – and on top of that, PG was taking time out of Kevin Abbring in the factory Volkswagen Motorsport entry. Obviously, Abbring is a young driver, but he's got the full might of one of the world's biggest car manufacturers behind him and he's in a very well established car. And PG was beating him while driving very conservatively.
“I have to say, PG drove a brilliant rally. He wasn't on his favoured surface and he didn't put a mark on the car. This is hard to take for the team. After last year and our dominance of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship we've become accustomed to winning and we should have added a historic Rally Monte Carlo win to our collection of silverware this week. Fact is, a fracture in a fuel union leaked fuel, which caught fire and forced the guys into retirement. The car's not badly damaged and we will bounce back next time out in Sweden. We were the fastest in Monte Carlo and we intend to finish the job in the snow next month.”