16 January 2013
Loeb leads Rallye Monte Carlo
Sebastien Loeb completes SS2 with a 6.7 second lead over former team-mate Sebastien Ogier; Dani Sordo lies third, 32.9 seconds further back; Juho Hanninen, Thierry Neuville and Mikko Hirvonen round out the top six...
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has taken the lead on Rallye Monte Carlo this morning following the opening two stages.
Loeb trailed his former team-mate Sebastien Ogier by 3.7 seconds through the opening test, the 37.10 km Le Moulinon-Antraigues test, as the younger Frenchman gave Volkswagen the perfect start to its WRC campaign.
However the order was reversed on the next stage, with Seb Sr outpacing his fellow countryman by 10.4 seconds.
Loeb now heads back to the 30-minute mid-day service in Valence with a 6.7 second lead.
It was not an easy start to the event though, and while SS2 was mostly covered in snow, SS1 featured a lot of areas with dry tarmac, and by the finish of the loop, most runners had next to no studs left in their tyres.
Behind the top two, Dani Sordo is best of the rest on his return to the Citroen fold and his first outing with the DS3 WRC. The Spaniard was third quickest in SS1, 20.2 seconds off the pace. He then had to settle for the fifth best time in SS2, but remains third overall, albeit now 39.6 seconds off Loeb.
Juho Hanninen is next up and fourth for the Qatar WRT, even though he had a scare in SS2 when he hit a bridge with the right rear of his Fiesta RS WRC car.
Thierry Neuville rounds out the top five in the sister Qatar WRT entry, 8.6 seconds adrift, followed by Mikko Hirvonen, Bryan Bouffier and Mads Ostberg.
Evgeny Novikov and Jari-Matti Latvala complete the top ten, the latter picking up a 30 second penalty in his Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC after he was late into the second time control.
In WRC2, Sepp Weigand holds top spot, with Armin Kremer second, 43 seconds adrift, and Yuriy Protasov third. WRC3 is led by Renaud Poutot, although only two cars are actually entered.
The action now continues this afternoon, with repeat runs through both of this morning's tests to conclude the opening day.
SS3, Le Moulinon-Antraigues 2, is due to start at 14.21 hours local time [13.21 hours British time].
Rallye Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 2 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 52m 38.2s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +06.7s M
3. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +39.6s T
4. Juho Hanninen Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +44.7s T
5. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +53.3s T
6. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +54.2s M
7. Bryan Bouffier Citroen DS3 WRC +56.9s
8. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 09.5s M
9. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 09.9s M
10. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +01m 25.6s M
11. Martin Prokop Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 33.6s
12. Olivier Burri Peugeot 207 S2000 +03m 20.0s P
13. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 +03m 28.6s WRC2
14. Julien Marin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mn 35.6s
15. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +04m 11.6 WRC2
16. Michal Kosciousko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +04m 33.5s T
WRC2 standings after Stage 2 (Top 3):
1. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 56m 06.8s WRC2
2. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +00m 43.0s WRC2
3. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza +02m 44.1s WRC2
WRC3 standings after Stage 2 (Top 3):
1. Renaud Poutot Citroen DS3 R3T 59m 40.3s WRC3
2. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 54.3s WRC3
all times unofficial
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