There were mixed fortunes for the ?koda Motorsport World Rally Team on todays second leg of the Monte Carlo Rally.
Alex Bengue set two fastest times during the morning but on SS7 (Pont des Miolans) Armin Schwarz crashed out of the event.
Alex scored his first scratch time on SS6 when the stage was stopped following an accident involving Francois Duval. Alex was again at the head of the stage times for SS7 when it was interrupted to allow medical assistance following Armins accident. He set third fastest time on SS8 to lie eighth overall but then broke a wheel near the end of tonights final stage. He completed the stage but was unable to drive safely back to Monaco. He will restart tomorrow but with an additional time penalty.
Armin Schwarz crashed the Fabia WRC within three kilometres of the end of SS7 and was flown to hospital in Nice where doctors confirmed that, although shocked and bruised, Armin was not seriously injured.
Tomorrows final leg of the rally features six stages (three stages repeated after service) including two runs over the famous Col du Turini where rally fans wait overnight to cheer their heroes in the morning. The winners will be welcomed in front of Monacos renowned Casino at approximately 1415.
Alex Bengue: I made some small changes to stiffen the suspension this morning and the car was immediately much better balanced than yesterday. I could be really confident on the dry roads and that is why I was able to be so much quicker. We had some good luck because on SS6 I got two punctures but thanks to Michelins ATS mousse I was still able to score my first two scratch times at WRC level.
Klaus Wicha (co-driver to Armin Schwarz): The accident happened at a hairpin right near the end of the stage. We hit a stone wall on the inside of the corner and the car rolled before dropping two or three metres down over the edge of the road. I am fine but Armin hurt his left shoulder and went to hospital for precautionary checks.
Martin Muehlmeier (Head of ?koda Motorsport): First of all I am happy that Armin was not seriously hurt in what was clearly quite a big accident. Naturally I am also pleased with Alexs performance today which was better than any of us expected on his first event but this was exactly why we signed him to drive for us this season. It was unfortunate for him to have a problem at the end of the final stage when he was close to another good time but he will continue tomorrow and gain more experience.