Current World Champion Petter Solberg delivered a consistent performance in his Subaru Impreza WRC2003 to climb the leaderboard and finish the day in fifth place. His team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, continued to impress on his Subaru team debut and ...
Current World Champion Petter Solberg delivered a consistent performance in his Subaru Impreza WRC2003 to climb the leaderboard and finish the day in fifth place. His team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, continued to impress on his Subaru team debut and gained further valuable experience at the wheel of his Impreza. Unfortunately, he later retired after sliding wide on a corner and collecting suspension damage.
SS7 0818hrs Lantosque - Col de Braus 34.41km
Not the best start for the WRC competitors on the opening stage of Leg two.
Tenth-placed Nicolas Vouilloz skidded on black ice 25km in, broke the
suspension of his Bozian prepared Peugeot and blocked the 34.41km test, the
longest of the event. Gronholm set the fastest time, but with the road
blocked organisers cancelled the stage for safety reasons and awarded all
competitors the same time of 28:41.3. This was the time achieved by Antony
Warmbold, who was the last competitor to finish before the incident
occurred. Had it run without fault, the test could have produced some
interesting results. Only Francois Duval and Freddy Loix had opted to run on
studded tyres for a surface that was very damp with intermittent ice
patches, while Loix's Peugeot was plagued by power steering trouble. Petter
Solberg slid wide on a slow speed hairpin and hit a wall. Fortunately the
damage sustained by his Impreza was largely cosmetic. After the finish,
crews returned to Monaco for the second service of the day.
Fastest Time: All competitors 28:41.3
SS8 1121hrs Tourette du Chateau-Saint Antonin 24.80km
Event leader Sebastien Loeb was quickest through the first competitive stage
to extend his lead to 47.1 seconds. A surprise surge from 23-year-old
Francois Duval saw the young Ford driver finish second fastest, just 0.1
seconds off the pace, while Gronholm was third, a further 28.3 seconds back.
As the first of the day's repeated stages, the damp and fog shrouded test
took competitors though series of sharp turns up into the mountains, before
descending towards the village of St. Antonin and concluding with a
succession of tight hairpins in the final stretch. With visibility as little
as 50 metres in places, Petter was fourth fastest, while Mikko Hirvonen
finished eighth, 1.8 seconds ahead of his more experienced ex-team mate,
Markko Martin. After the finish, crews completed the 10.22km road section to
the start of SS9.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 18:14.9
SS9 1204hrs Sigale - Col de Bleine 28.39km
With heavy fog and ice patches making driving conditions difficult on the
first pass through the 28.39km stage, there were problems for some of the
leading drivers, including Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen. Running wide on a
slow-speed corner half way through the stage, Mikko's Impreza collided with
a low wall and collected suspension and steering damage. Although he was
able to restart and drive for another few kilometres, the car was unable to
make the 83km journey back to service and he retired. Next to go was Carlos
Sainz. Spinning his Xsara on a patch of melting snow and losing a wheel, the
Spaniard demonstrated that the rally's variable conditions could catch out
even the most experienced WRC drivers, while Marcus Gronholm dropped 40
seconds when he hit ice and slipped off the road just 500 metres from the
finish. Looking to the leaders, Loeb was again fastest to extend his overall
lead to 1:15.8, while Duval was second and Loix third. Solberg was fifth
fastest, which was enough to move him up into the same position overall.
After the finish, crews returned to service for the third service of the
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:11.6
SS10 1552hrs Tourette du Chateau-Saint Antonin 24.80km
Rallye Monte Carlo became a victim of it's own popularity on SS10, when the
stage had to be cancelled due to the high number of spectators lining the
route. FIA safety delegate, Jacek Bartos, cancelled the test due to safety
reasons and crews moved directly to the start of SS11.
Fastest Time: n/a
SS11 1635hrs Sigale - Col de Bleine 28.39km
Despite suggesting that he was reducing his pace for the closing stages of
the day, current event leader Sebastien Loeb was again fastest to take his
third stage win and end the Leg with a comfortable 1:28.7 lead. Martin was
second fastest and Gronholm third. Duval was fourth fastest to remain second
overall, while Panizzi, who reported in the previous service that his
Lancer's engine was proving inconsistent in its delivery, was fifth fastest.
Despite the plummeting temperatures and resultant slippery corners, there
were no leading retirements in the day's final stage and, after the finish,
crews returned the Monaco for the final service.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:36.1
, 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal
It's been difficult for Petter today to try and control his urge to go flat out and stick to the strategy of driving for points. Losing two stages today hasn't helped our chance of moving up the field, but nevertheless we'll start tomorrow in a good position and on course to pick up some important championship points. Obviously, it's been a disappointing day for Mikko. I've been impressed with the way he's tackled his first event with the team and it's a shame he should retire after such a small error. But, that's the nature of this event. Mikko's a bright guy and I'm sure he'll put this behind him and focus on a better finish in Sweden.
Actually, I'm quite happy and have the chance of some good points. There wasn't really much more I could do today, but I'm going to see what I can do tomorrow and hope to make some more places. I do feel sorry for Mikko, it was very unlucky that he went off where he did, he seemed to be going well up until that point.
It's a real mystery. I was going steadily to get experience of the rally, and wasn't pushing hard at all. I can understand slipping off the road when conditions are difficult, but I went off on one of the easiest corners of the rally. It was slow speed, second or third gear, and a totally dry road. Maybe I heard the pace note the wrong way, I'm not sure, it's just unbelievable. Of course I'm disappointed, but I suppose you have to accept that from time to time these things just happen in rallying. I'm going to study the on-board film to see if that provides any answers, then it's a case of moving on and trying for a better result in Sweden.
The third and final leg of Rallye Monte Carlo starts tomorrow at 0730hrs, when the remaining cars will leave the Monaco parc ferme. The final day will see crews travel north of the principality to contest four further stages (two repeated), and a final 104.40 competitive kilometres. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp at 1430hrs.