Citroen's Sebastien Loeb seemingly
leads Rallye Monte Carlo at the end of the opening day, although timing issues on SS3 mean the overall classification is far from clear.
The FIA opted to appoint a new timing partner for 2013 with Sistemas Integrales de Telecomunicación replacing British firm Stage 1 Technology. All went relatively smoothly this morning, although on the repeat-run through Le Moulinon-Antraigues this afternoon that was not the case, and initially Loeb was given a time that dropped him right down the order.
Timing problems were fixed for SS4, but the exact times for SS3 remain unknown. Unofficially, however, Loeb seems to have increased his advantage, setting the best times in both SS3 and SS4, to head into the end of day service with a 60-second plus gap over Sebastien Ogier.
“It was very tricky,” Loeb told WRC Live
at the end of SS4, “for sure there was less snow than on the first pass. [But] it was re-freezing again in some places and I lost a bit of confidence at the end. I am happy to be at the end of the day.”
“It was okay,” Ogier added. “No problems at all. We just tried to do our best. But it is not easy. There was lots of mud on the road.”
Mikko Hirvonen now lies third - at least according to the end of day classification complied by Citroen - ahead of Dani Sordo, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mads Ostberg. Juho Hanninen rounds out the top eight, although some sites have Bryan Bouffier in P7 and Ostberg in P9. The official WRC site currently has Bouffier third!
“It is very difficult,” Hirvonen stated. “I hate driving in these conditions. It is very tricky for everyone. But at least we are here.”
“We had a front right puncture [in SS4] and it cost us some time,” Latvala remarked. “We lost maybe half a minute, running about 5 kilometres with it. It has not been my day unfortunately, but at least we have finished all the stages and now we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Thierry Neuville meanwhile has retired after going off the road in SS4. He had been running fifth in his Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC after SS2.
More to follow as we get it...
Rallye Monte Carlo: Unofficial overall standings after Stage 4 (Top 8)*:
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 1h 39m 49.0s
2. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 20.3s
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +1m 46.7s
4. Dani Sordo
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +2m 01.2s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +2m 32.2s
6. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 50.6s
7. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 55.1s
8. Juho Hanninen
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 03.5s
*Times according to Citroen, not official
SS4. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off