Leader SÃ©bastien Loeb (Citroen) was quickest on the opening stage but the Frenchman could afford to pace himself through the rest of the day. He ended with a 31.1sec advantage over Spanish team-mate Dani Sordo, who was also untroubled. Behind...
Leader Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) was quickest on the opening stage but the Frenchman could afford to pace himself through the rest of the day. He ended with a 31.1sec advantage over Spanish team-mate Dani Sordo, who was also untroubled. Behind the BP-Ford duo of Gronholm and Hirvonen. and Chris Atkinson (Subaru), Petter Solberg (Subaru) lies sixth, despite escaping with just damaged steering after slipping into a ditch at a sixth-gear kink on the second stage. Brother Henning (Ford) spun at the same point. After two days' battle, Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) closed to within 5.4sec of Jan Kopecky (Skoda) in their duel for the final drivers' points' position, but Latvala hit a wall on the last stage and dropped more than two minutes as he slipped from ninth to 11th. However, on returning to service the damage to the side of the car was too great for him to continue and he retired.
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen ended the mountain speed tests of the Rallye Monte Carlo tonight in a comfortable podium position in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns were no under no pressure from behind and took no risks as they eased through the day to preserve third position on this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship with a just a short test remaining on Monaco's Grand Prix circuit tomorrow morning. In contrast, team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen fought furiously with Chris Atkinson. They go to Monaco tonight with the Focus RS pair in fourth, ahead by just 0.8sec with 2.80km of competition to decide the outcome. The Finns won three of the day's six speed tests in the Haute-Loire region of central France in a thrilling battle with the Australian that saw them swap positions on virtually every stage.
Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "The feeling with the car was good but I didn't have to push because I'm under no pressure. I just drove to finish the event. I couldn't catch the drivers ahead so there was no point in pushing like an idiot trying to do so. I have not had that much to do but still managed to hit a wall while crossing a bridge. I was lucky not to do much damage. The asphalt was dark and slippery as I approached the bridge and then 'bang', I hit the wall. Maybe I was driving a little too quickly at the time."
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "That was a great day! It was brilliant fun to fight with Chris and tomorrow is going to be so exciting. It will be the first time that I have driven a super special stage at the end of a rally fighting for position and that's a fantastic way to end the event. Maybe I should call my friend Mika Hakkinen who lives in Monaco and ask him for some advice on how to drive the Grand Prix circuit! It's compulsory to use snow tyres so there will be plenty of sliding on the asphalt. I can't wait."
With only one of the 2007 Monte Carlo Rally's fifteen stages remaining, the Citroën C4 WRCs of Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí returned to the Valence service park this evening in the same positions they have held since SS1, namely 1st and 2nd.
Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "Everything has gone well so far. The C4 WRC has been competitive and reliable and our aim on the superspecial Monaco will be to round off the work we have accomplished over the past three days with a win."
Dani Sordo/Marc: "The morning went well for us. Saint Bonnet le Froid was new to me and it's true that it's a very difficult stage. On the next test, I preferred to lift once we got to the wet part until the finish. There was no point risking making a mistake."
The Subaru World Rally Team still has two cars firmly in the points with just one stage remaining in this year's Rallye Monte Carlo. Chris Atkinson was one of the stars of the rally and set two fastest stage times as he fought over fourth position with Mikko Hirvonen. Chris lost the position by a slender margin on the last stage of the day, but remains confident that he will have a chance of clawing it back on the Monaco superspecial tomorrow morning. Petter Solberg successfully moved one place up the order from seventh to sixth and was satisfied with the stage times he set during the leg.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "Our position is okay and overall I am very happy with this rally. It has been a tough weekend and the time we lost on the long opening stage on Friday really hurt our chances of getting any higher up the order. Don't forget that we have also been learning more about how the BFGoodrich tyres work with our car this weekend. Chris has gone particularly well and it has been a good team effort. The atmosphere on this rally has been incredible. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I know the roads pretty well and it's good to know my family will be watching from our apartment!"
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We just lost too much time at the end of the final stage today. I thought we'd done enough to hold Mikko back but that wasn't the case. It will certainly make the superspecial in Monaco very interesting and will be good for the spectators. Even though we lost position to Mikko it's been a hugely encouraging weekend. We've been able to battle competitively on asphalt and it's the first time I've been in a position to do that. It's a good step forward for us."
OMV Kronos Citroen
No information available at time of going to press. Please visit the link above for news later.
Stobart M-Sport Ford
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team crew Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud ended leg 3 of the 75th Rallye Monte Carlo on a high, in a position to claim a manufacturer point for their new team tomorrow. Solberg had struggled during the event with his performance on tarmac and it was just consolation for him to finish today within the zone of manufacturer points. An unfortunate off in the final stage of leg 3 has ended Jari-Matti Latvala's chance of collecting one drivers point in the first round of the 2007 championship. Latvala slid wide on some loose gravel hitting a stone wall damaging the front right and rear of his car, loosing two minutes on the stage. Because of damage to the cars safety roll cage Latvala will not be able to continue tomorrow.
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "Everything was going fine, just like all day. It was just one left hand corner, there was lots of gravel and we started to under-steer and slid into a small stone wall but we are both fine. The stages today were great though, the car was awesome and the tyre choice was very good. I was very happy to set some fast stage times, just unlucky at the end."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "I'm here and I'm happy to come through every stage and hopefully score a manufacturer point for the team after tomorrow. I have a lot to learn, maybe I have to do some circuit racing for practice on tarmac, but I am very happy to finish the rally for the team. Sweden and Norway are going to be very very good I am really looking forward to these rallies and driving on snow again."
Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "We put on the last four hard compound tyres for this afternoon because we probably didn't exploit the grip as much as we should have this morning. I think I struggled on some stages where it was a bit patchy with ice and gravel but where it was dry we picked up the pace a bit. I'm really happy to have finished all the stages its great to get the experience on tarmac and also the night-time stages."