WRC » 24 January 2008
Rally reactions: Rallye Monte Carlo - Day 1.
Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:
"There is always something special about the atmosphere you get on night stages and this evening's two tests were fantastic. The fact that there were so many spectators out only added to the pleasure. I didn't feel entirely comfortable on SS1 on which the damp portions were beginning to freeze. I had been warned about that by our ice-note crew and I was a little overcautious at times because I was expecting to come across frost or ice. I also thought the second stage would be relatively easier and we pushed harder on that one. We are now in the lead but we have no intention of letting that go to our heads. It's still very early days and we've got three more long legs to come. Our Pirelli tyres worked well but that wasn't really a surprise given the conditions. We'll see what their real potential is tomorrow."
Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:
"We went very well on the first stage which gave relatively good grip and I felt confident enough to push hard, although I hit a straw bale near the end which saw us lose a few seconds. On the other hand, the conditions on the second stage had changed after our ice-note crew had been through and I didn't really succeed in finding the ideal rhythm. On top of that, the drivers running ahead of us on the road had dragged snow onto the road by cutting certain corners and I preferred not to take any risks. There is still a very long way to go and it was important to have both Citroëns on the provisional podium this evening."
Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
"There was a lot of ice in the final 10km of the second stage and I had a couple of scares, so I took it steadily after that. I was worried about the damp patches and the black ice and had no confidence when it looked slippery, so I eased off too much. Although I may have lost the fight tonight, the main battle isn't over yet. Temperatures were -3ºC so it was hard to get heat into the Pirelli tyres but they worked well and I was pleased with them. There are three more days of rallying in daylight to come so that will be better and I will feel more confident. I'm sure I can go faster tomorrow when I have a clearer view of the conditions and can pick out the bad areas."
Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:
"Today is not bad, I'm happy with fourth from today and the times weren't bad. It's been very tricky; at the top of the stage it was just ice, so I think everyone had a moment up there. We had a few small offs which lost us time but didn't damage the car as the road section was just wide enough. Fourth puts us in a good position for the next three days, and for sure there will be more changes to the leaderboard. I'd like to beat Mikko like last year, but fourth would be a good finish. The roads tomorrow are a lot narrower and have less grip then today, and it'll definitely get icy again overnight so the morning will be tough. We will make a few small changes but nothing too much – I'm happy with the car and we'll keep pushing for Mikko."
Francois Duval [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"There was a section of ice on the first stage and we slid into a small wall luckily without much damage but we didn't know where the ice ended so I think I was driving too slowly for a while on that section. There was also a warning of some snow on stage 2 so we slowed down for that also. The car wasn't feeling exactly right for me tonight so we will make some changes in service for tomorrow's stages."
Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]:
"I had a good feeling with the car this morning, and we were going well until we got caught by some ice and spun. But we can see how tricky this event can be, and we can take advantage of that over the next three days. I'm pleased with sixth as a starting point for this unpredictable rally, and am happy with the balance and feeling. We will make some adjustments overnight, especially as we learn more and more about the tyres, which are hard to get right on this surface where we have dry asphalt and then ice. We will keep pushing and just see. I'm not looking at the gap to Duval, we just keep pushing."
Gigi Galli [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:
"Tonight was my first competitive stage in the car and generally it went OK. We drove in the middle of the road and I enjoyed the stages tonight even though they were tricky in places. We made some small mistakes on the first stage and slid wide on a patch of ice we didn't know about. Tonight's stages were very fast which was probably not the best for me but I am happy to be safely finished the first day."
Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:
"We had a few small problems but despite this we've come to the end of the first day in the points. This is a brand new car and there is a lot of development still to come, but I'm happy. It's clear that the potential is all there, and I'm going to keep pushing tomorrow."
Khalid Al Qassimi [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:
“The first two stages this evening were very difficult, but that's all part of the programme. The first 17 km of stage one were dry and we set a steady pace. Then there was snow and ice for the rest of the stage, so we cruised to the finish. I stalled the engine at the start of the second stage and I think we lost around 15 seconds trying to get it going again. There was snow at some of the corners but the safety crew did a great job letting us know what to expect. Overall, I'm pleased with the times on the first two stages, especially as it is my first time here. It's a good start but of course, there is a very long way to go and three more days of competition, so I must concentrate and make sure we do not have any mistakes on the way.”
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