M-Sport press release
M-Sport Crews Continue Monte Carlo Charge
On day 3 of the 80th Rallye Monte-Carlo, the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team crews showed further progression over three competitive stages totalling 77.3 kilometres. On target for his best ever WRC finish, Russia’s Evgeny Novikov lies fifth. Monte Carlo specialist, François Delecour lies sixth overall with Ott Tänak eighth on this his first ever appearance in the Principality.
Once again, tyre choice proved pivotal. With four super-soft tyres on his Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the opening stage (SS11), Novikov put in a sterling performance to set the third fastest time overall. Just 8.5 seconds adrift of pace-setter, Petter Solberg, the Russian took 8.2 seconds out of eight-time world champion Sébastien Loeb. The impressive time saw Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet leap-frog the Citroën DS3 WRC of Mikko Hirvonen for fourth place overall with a 6.3 second advantage.
With only two studded tyres in a diagonal configuration for SS12, Novikov lost out to Hirvonen who had opted for four studded tyres, which paid dividends in the treacherous conditions. Despite finding himself on the wrong tyres for the tricky and unfamiliar roads, Novikov cleared the stage safely with the fifth fastest time overall.
SS13 saw Novikov make another intelligent tyre choice to set the third fastest time once again. The Russian now lies fifth overall as the crews embark on Day 4 in Monte-Carlo.
Elsewhere, Delecour displayed some exceptional speed in SS11 to prove what makes him so legendary around the Monte stages. With the second fastest time, just 3.3 seconds shy of Solberg in the factory Ford Fiesta, the Frenchman’s bold choice of tyre paid dividends.
With the conditions worse than expected over SS12, Delecour and co-driver Dominique Savignoni lost some time to their competitors, a diagonal tyre configuration of two super-soft and two studded snow tyres leaving the pairing seventh fastest on the 24.13km stage.
In a departure from SS12, SS13 was much cleaner for the Frenchman as he set the sixth fastest time to leave him sixth overall heading into Day 4.
Similarly on four super-soft tyres for the first stage of the day (SS11), Tänak proved himself to be a real star of the future with the fourth fastest time on his first ever run through the 23.28km stage. The impressive time saw the young Estonian climb to seventh in the overall standings, with a 15.9 second lead over Pierre Campana in the Mini Cooper WRC.
Tänak and co-driver, Kuldar Sikk’s rally-long battle with Campana continued into SS12 where the pairing found themselves on the less optimal tyre choice. With the Mini driver on full studs and Tänak restricted to a diagonal configuration of two super-soft and two studded tyres, the 24-year-old did well to recover the eighth fastest time despite losing out on the overall classification.
SS13 provided the backdrop for yet another mature drive from the young Estonian. Despite finding himself on the super-soft tyres as opposed to the optimal soft, Tänak set the ninth fastest time, leaving him eighth overall as the crews embark on Day 4 of the competition tomorrow.
Evgeny Novikov (5th) said:
“Stage 13 was quite difficult. It was a very fast stage. We had the right tyre choice with the soft tyres so we could push. We got a good time so for sure I am happy. All is good and we will work hard to maintain this pace tomorrow.”
François Delecour (6th) said:
“SS13 was so fast and dry. It was just like being on the Tour de Corse – it wasn’t like Monte Carlo at all! It was a nice stage and I’m happy with our performance. I wasn’t that far off Loeb’s pace. I was losing only about 0.6 seconds a kilometre.
“I really enjoyed today. Ok, the rally isn’t over yet, but I think everybody is up to speed now and there probably won’t be any more surprises. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“SS13 was a dry and clean stage. I was surprised the conditions were so good – it wasn’t what we had expected. I had four super-soft tyres which didn’t work out for me in those conditions. It wasn’t possible to go any faster than we did.
“We’ll keep pushing on tomorrow. As it has been every day so far, everything will be about the tyres. If the weather is fine, it should be good fun on the Col de Turini. I’ve heard a lot about it! If we make it to the end of the rally, I’ll be happy.”