----------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Petri Karonen (C) 1995. May not be reproduced without author's permission. Permission is automatically granted for non-commercial use provided that the author is notified of the reproduction. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
World Rally Championship Rallye Monte Carlo
The start of the WRC season was shadowed by controversy over the new rules. The new service rules say that always after a service two special stages have to be driven before the next service possibility. This means that if drivers want to change tyres between those stages they have to carry the tyres in the car and change them themselves. Also the cars have less power because of smaller allowed turbo intakes.
Despite the controversy the Monte Carlo Rally started, as usual, from several European cities and by Sunday all the teams were gathered in the principality of Monaco for the real start on Monday morning. Already after the first special stage, which was driven on dry surface, the organizers had to make an exception on the rules and allow tyre change as the conditions on the next stage were icy. This had to be done several times during the rally.
RAC winner Colin McRae won the first special stage but already on the next stage he went off and lost almost 3 minutes, stuck in the snow. After the 2nd stage Colin's team-mate at Subaru, Carlos Sainz, took the lead and kept it for the rest of the day. Second on the first day despite some bad tyre choices was Francois Delecour, last year's winner. Tommi Makinen, driving this season for Mitsubishi, showed some good speed and was third. 4th and 5th were Toyota drivers Didier Auriol and Juha Kankkunen who both complained about serious lack of power in the new model Celicas.
On the second day Francois Delecour with his new co-driver, Catherine Francois, battled hard with Sainz and on SS 9 he passed the Spaniard, only to lose the lead back to Sainz two stages later. At the end of the day Delecour was 26 secs behind. Tommi Makinen, in his second ever Monte, continued without errors and even managed to close up a bit. He was 1:08 behind Sainz. Auriol and Kankkunen had their own private race as they already had lost touch with the top. Their lack of power was traced to being caused by the engine management software, and nothing could be done to help the situation. Toyota hoped that they can fix the bugs in the software before the next round in Sweden.
In Tuesday evening Kankkunen was 4th, Auriol only 2 secs behind him. 6th was Bruno Thiry of Ford who had a small off on SS 8. The last stage of the day, the long and very icy SS 12, could have gone better for Subaru, as both Colin McRae and Piero Liatti crashed. Colin damaged the car and was out of the rally. Liatti, who drove the third works Subaru in this event, managed to get the car digged up from the snow and continue over half an hour behind the leaders.
Only three stages were driven on Wednesday before the drivers started to prepare for the last leg, the legendary Monte Night. On the three stages Delecour closed up on Sainz and was finally a mere 12 seconds behind. The top positions remained the same. On the first SS of the night, the famous Turin stage, it was Toyota's turn to run into bad luck. First Armin Schwarz had to retire because of engine failure and then Auriol slipped on the ice and crashed out. Kankkunen almost did the same but he got away with only some bent bodywork. The reason for his off was again the spectators who had thrown snow and ice on the road, a frequent problem in Monte.
The winner of the rally was decided on SS 18 (of total 21) as Delecour had to limp through the stage with hurt suspension. So Carlos Sainz took his second win in Monte Carlo but it wasn't an easy one: "This was the hardest race I've driven since I began in WRC in 1987", he said at the finish. Even the second position was like a win for Francois Delecour who had doubted that he could ever drive as fast as before his road accident last year. He also proved that the Escort Cosworth is still extremely competitive even though the Ford operation is now run by the private RAS Team.
Tommi Makinen hit some transmission trouble and had to drive the last three stages with only rear wheel drive. Juha Kankkunen was the fastest on the last stages and got past Makinen into 3rd place. Kankkunen, who had come to Monte with a win in his mind, was already set for Sweden and hoped the computers in the car will then be working properly. Makinen was still very happy with the 4th position and it will be very interesting to see how he and Mitsubishi will do for the rest of the season. Ford's Bruno Thiry was 5th in the rally and Makinen's team-mate in Mitsubishi, Andrea Aghini, was 6th. 7th was the winner of group F2, Jean Ragnotti, with a Renault Clio Maxi.
Results of Monte Carlo Rally: 1. Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Subaru 6:32.31 2. Francois Delecour / Catherine Francois Ford -2.25 3. Juha Kankkunen / Nicky Grist Toyota -3.57 4. Tommi Makinen / Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi -4.41 5. Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Ford -6.47 6. Andrea Aghini / Sauro Farnocchia Mitsubishi -10.46 7. Jean Ragnotti / Gilles Thimonier Renault (F2) -31.55 8. Piero Liatti / Alex Alessandrini Subaru -37.23 9. Philippe Camandona / Georges Crausaz Ford -40.30 10. Isolde Holderied / Tina Thorner Mitsubishi (N) -41.83 ...
Next event: Swedish Rally, Feb. 9-12. -- =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= = Petri Karonen Email: firstname.lastname@example.org = = World Rally Championship Infosystem: http://www.jyu.fi/~pakar/ = =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=