Bryan Bouffier has revealed that his decision to take two snow tyres for the opening loop of the Rallye Monte Carlo was branded a 'small dick' choice by M-Sport technical guru, Christian Loriaux.
Most of the front runners opted just for slicks on Thursday morning, but with the weather turning and snow arriving, it cost them dear in SS3, with the likes of Sebastian Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen all losing significant time. Bouffier in contrast made the most of his two snow tyres and promptly won the 19.34 km Montauban-sur-I'Ouveze test in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC – something that vaulted him up from fourth to first and ultimately paved the way for him to take that 'dream' second place finish [see separate story - HERE
“In my expectations I wanted to finish on the podium but it's never easy because you are battling the best teams in the world and the best drivers and I know how tough the Monte-Carlo is especially with the tyre choice and it's so difficult to stay on the road,” Bouffier said at the finish. “I was realistic before the rally, knowing it was going to be so tough but we were really concentrated on our target to do the best tyre choice and that's what happened.
“Just before leaving the service [on Thursday morning] I took two super soft and two snow tyres for the boot and Christian Loriaux from Ford said it was a 'small dick' choice. But I said: 'Okay but it's the only dick I have...'
“I was quite a lot frustrated because [the first] 100 metres in the first stage were okay, but then after the first corner I went off and hit a bridge. I knew then we were going to get a lot of snow. I had two snow tyres in the boot so it was not a bad choice for me [and I used them both on SS3]. It means on Monte-Carlo that even if you are not the fastest driver you can do some interesting things if you have a good analysis of the stages and do a proper tyre choice. In this way the target of a podium was quite reachable.”
Bouffier then had a good margin over eventual winner Ogier, but came under pressure the next day and ultimately slipped back when he spun in SS9.
“We were leading after the first day and we were trying to push as hard as we could on the first stage on the second day,” continued the Frenchman, who has a good record on the Monte and who won the event in 2011 when it was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. “We lost more or less 11 seconds in the long one [SS7], then we did the best time in the next test [SS8] by just 0.2 seconds, but then I did a mistake on the second pass: I thought it would be drier and I made the car stiffer. This was not a great choice and I was not happy with the car.
“When I spun [in SS9], I got on the power too early in a muddy part and the spectators had to help me. Then the gap was more or less one minute and we couldn't say the race was lost, but Seb had a bit less pressure...”
Asked how he managed to stay so calm and composed throughout the three days, the 35-year-old replied: “I am getting quite old and now I have good experience.
“I enjoy what I am doing and that's it,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, whether or not Bouffier will get to do any more WRC rounds this season remains uncertain, although M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson has said he would like to get the Frenchman out on further events [see separate story - HERE