16 January 2013
Loeb concludes day one on top
“Although Mikko got past me on the final stage, I'm not disappointed with the day,” Sordo reflected. “It's pretty good to be where I am, well placed to fight for a place on the podium. It was very difficult to stay on the road. When the ice and snow mixed with the mud, there was no grip at all. I'd be happy if the conditions were more consistent tomorrow.”
Jari-Matti Latvala rounds out the top-five, after a difficult morning in which he also incurred a 30-second time penalty when he was late to the second time control. Still he did bounce back on the repeat loop in his VW Polo and posted the second best time in SS3, before losing out a bit in SS4 with a puncture.
“We have survived this typical and unpredictable opening day of the 'Monte'. That is the most important thing,” Latvala said. “However, today was not really my day. The first special stage put so much strain on the tyres that we had to change them on the way to the second special stage. We than made a mistake with our timing and arrived at the start too late. On the fourth stage we had to complete five kilometres with a puncture and lost a lot of time as a result. From a driving point of view, I am yet to really find my rhythm. That will come though.”
Behind, Evgeny Novikov heads the charge for the Qatar M-Sport WRT – the ex-Ford works outfit, 18.4 seconds off Latvala, and just 4.5 seconds up on team leader, Mads Ostberg, who is making his competitive debut on the Monte this week.
Of the rest Bryan Bouffier, Juho Hanninen and Martin Prokop complete the top ten, followed by Julien Marin and WRC2 class leader, Sepp Weigand.
In terms of retirements, Thierry Neuville was the only major scalp, going out in SS4, when he went off the road. He had been running fifth overall in his Qatar WRT Fiesta RS WRC.
Rallye Monte Carlo now continues on Thursday with two loops of three stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of 132.5 kilometres.
SS5, Labatie d'Andaure-Lalouvesc 1, is due to start at 09.33 hours local time [08.33 hours British time].
Rallye Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 4 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 1h 39m 49.0s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 20.3s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +1m 46.7s M
4. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +2m 01.2s T
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +2m 32.2s M
6. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 50.6s M
7. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 55.1s M
8. Bryan Bouffier Citroen DS3 WRC +2m 57.1s
9. Juho Hanninen Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 03.5s T
10. Martin Prokop Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6m 11.3s
11. Julien Marin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8m 17.4s
12. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 +9m 46.9s WRC2
13. Olivier Burri Peugeot 207 S2000 +10m 03.2s P
14. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +10m 47.2 WRC2
21. Michal Kosciousko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +14m 58.9s T
WRC2 standings after Stage 4 (Top 3):
1. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 1h 49m 35.9s WRC2
2. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +1m 00.3s WRC2
3. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza +3m 36.1s WRC2
WRC3 standings after Stage 4:
1. Renaud Poutot Citroen DS3 R3T 1h 54m 42.7s WRC3
2. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +1m 05.9s WRC3
SS4. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off T
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