19 January 2013
Still Loeb with two tests to go
Sebastien Loeb will take a 1 minute 39.9 second lead over Sebastien Ogier into the final two stages of Rallye Monte Carlo; Dani Sordo holds third ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Bryan Bouffier...
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has survived SS14, SS15 and SS16 to remain on course for victory on Rallye Monte Carlo, although three of his main rivals weren't so lucky.
The final day got off to a dramatic start with the opening stage up through the famous Col de Turini claiming the scalps of Evgeny Novikov, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hanninen.
Novikov and Latvala, who were third and fifth on the overnight leaderboard, were both sidelined early on. Novikov knocked off a wheel on his Qatar M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC car about 1 kilometre into the 23.54 kilometre Moulinet-La Bollene Vesubie test, while Latvala also had problems near the start and went off in his Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC. Juho Hanninen in contrast had nearly got to the finish in his Qatar WRT Fiesta RS WRC, but 5 kilometres from the end, he also had to stop. He had been in seventh place.
While SS15 produced no more dramas, the repeat-run through Moulinet-La Bollene Vesubie as SS16 was again tricky, and although Loeb was quickest, he wasn't at all happy: “It is really uninteresting to drive in conditions like this,” he told WRC Live at the finish. “We have two lines in there and if you go off them, then you will go out. It is not impressive for us and it isn't very exciting for the spectators either. You just have to drive slowly in the lines. It is impossible to do anything else.”
Ogier, who remains second overall, and who hit the barriers twice on the first-run through Turini also said it was very hard: “That was not easy. We are just taking it very safely. There is nothing to play for,” added the Volkswagen man.
Dani Sordo is now next up and on course for the final spot on the podium in his Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC: “It is very difficult. I did it [SS16] really, really slow. I didn't want to take any risks.”
Behind, Mikko Hirvonen and Bryan Bouffier complete the new-look top-five, the latter impressively taking his first stage win of the event in the opening test of the day.
Further back, Mads Ostberg is sixth, although he had a scare in the final test of the loop and lost over 5 minutes and a position on the leaderboard: “Very early in the stage I went wide and hit something with the rear," explained the Qatar M-Sport WRT man. "It broke a wheel and we also had some problems with the brakes too. But at least I am here. We will try and get it fixed now [in service] and get to the end.”
Martin Prokop holds seventh, followed by WRC2 class leader, Sepp Weigand in eighth and then Olivier Burri and Michal Kosciousko. Kosciousko is currently on for the final drivers' point on his debut event with the Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
The event now comes to a close in a few hours time, with a third run through Moulinet-La Bollene Vesubie [SS17] and a second run through Lantosque-Luceram [SS18]. SS17 starts at 20.58 hours local time [19.58 hours UK time], with SS18 commencing at 21.38 hours local time [20.38 hours UK time].
Rallye Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 16 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 5h 18m 57.2s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 39.9s M
3. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +3m 49.0s T
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +5m 26.3s M
5. Bryan Bouffier Citroen DS3 WRC +8m 13.1s
6. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12m 03.7s M
7. Martin Prokop Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +23m 27.3s
8. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 +29m 34.5s WRC2
9. Olivier Burri Peugeot 207 S2000 +35m 38.4s P
10. Michal Kosciousko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +36m 28.0s T
11. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +38m 00.3 WRC2
12. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza +40m 55.8s WRC2
13. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +45m 31.0s WRC3
14. Eamonn Boland Subaru Impreza R4 +49m 40.1s P
WRC2 standings after Stage 16 (Top 3):
1. Sepp Weigand Skoda Fabia S2000 5h 44m 22.4s WRC2
2. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza +6m 34.2s WRC2
3. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza +10m 39.5s WRC2
WRC3 standings after Stage 16:
1. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T 5h 38m 57.4s WRC3
SS4. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off T
SS9. Renaud Poutot Citroen DS3 R3T Mechanical WRC3
SS10. Julien Marin Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident
SS14. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off M
SS14. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Went off M
SS14. Juho Hanninen Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off T
all times unofficial
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