16 January 2014
Rallye Monte Carlo: Bouffier extends lead, Kubica third
Bryan Bouffier has concluded day one of Rallye Monte Carlo with a 38.8 second lead over Kris Meeke, while former F1 pilot Robert Kubica is third.
M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC runner Bryan Bouffier remains on top at the close of day one of Rallye Monte Carlo, the opening round in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.
Bouffier surged into the lead this morning in SS3, making the most of having fitted two snow tyres to jump from fourth to P1, 13.6 seconds up on Britain's Kris Meeke. He then extended that lead this afternoon on the repeat loop, despite only going 5th, 3rd and 6th in SS4, SS5 and SS6 respectively. The Frenchman will now take a 38.8 second cushion into the second leg on Friday.
“It is fantastic for me to be here – competing with the world's best and in a really good position at the end of the first day," said Bouffier. "The conditions have been really difficult, so to come out on top – here at Monte-Carlo – it's a very good feeling. Although I have to say that I am lucky to be here! On the first corner of the first stage we hit a bridge and I thought that our race was over. Thankfully, the Fiesta is very strong, so thanks to her!
“Of course this will not be an easy position to hold on to as we know that anything can happen. We need to keep concentrated and be aware of the conditions. We'll just try to keep the same pace, and see what happens tomorrow.”
Meeke holds second in his Citroen DS3 WRC car, albeit only 0.7 seconds up on former F1 pilot, Robert Kubica. Meeke also used some winter tyres in SS3, along with Dani Sordo and Elfyn Evans.
Kubica meanwhile stunned by winning the opening two stages and while the Pole lost a lot of time in the heavy snow at the end of SS3, he is currently well placed to get his 'senior' WRC campaign off to a brilliant start.
“I'm pretty pleased with our performance today. At the beginning of the year I set myself a target to win at least one stage throughout the season, and I have already achieved that in the first two! We still have a lot to learn and there is a long way to go in this event, but I think we have had a good day," said Kubica.
“Of course when you are leading after two stages and then get caught-out by a lot of snow in the next, it's always painful, but I also have to be realistic. If someone had told me before the event that I would be in this position, I would have taken it straight away. It could have been better, but honestly I think we have to be very satisfied with the job we have done today.
“I nearly opted for spare snow tyres this morning, but when we didn't expect snow – like a lot of other drivers – I thought that there was no reason [to do so]. Unfortunately for us, it turns out that there was a reason!
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