The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team began its 2005 World Rally Championship programme with ninth place for Alex Bengue at the Monte Carlo Rally, a result that brought one Manufacturers' Championship point.

This was only Bengue's second Monte Carlo Rally and the first in a WRC car but he showed great pace, especially on the second day when he scored two stage victories.

The Frenchman re-started this morning under new rules that allowed damaged cars to be repaired and returned to the competition.

The Skoda mechanics got the Fabia WRC back to Monaco at 0200 hours this morning and worked flat out to get it ready for the 0652 hours restart after Bengue had to stop on the road section after SS9 with a broken wheel.

"The roads today were much more dirty and slippery than yesterday so I could not attack as hard as before," commented Bengue at the end of leg 3.

"Also spectators had thrown snow onto the road on the Col du Turini and this made it very dangerous on the col and at the start of the downhill section. Overall I am very pleased with this result because we achieved what we set out to do on this rally.

"We had very good speed in the right conditions but I am sorry to have had the problem on yesterday's final stage. Without it I could possibly have finished fifth or even fourth on this rally."

"We are very happy to start the season with a World Championship point but a little disappointed that it wasn't more," added Skoda boss, Martin Muehlmeier.

"With the time penalty Alex couldn't achieve the result he deserved and so he sensibly drove safely to secure a finish."

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