WRC

Monte Carlo Toyota Report 99-01-18

Monday 18 January 1999 - Leg One - continued (Stages 1 - 5) Auriol powers through the field in the Toyota Corolla; Sainz retires The 1999 FIA World Rally Championship started with a vengeance today with the opening competitive...

Monday 18 January 1999 - Leg One - continued (Stages 1 - 5) Auriol powers through the field in the Toyota Corolla; Sainz retires The 1999 FIA World Rally Championship started with a vengeance today with the opening competitive section of the famous Rallye Monte Carlo. This notoriously treacherous and unpredictable event began not only with the longest stage of the rally but, at 48 km, also the longest in a year-long Championship that takes the teams to all corners of the globe. Snow and ice conspired against the crews, many of whom felt fortunate to reach the finish, but the conditions still took their toll. The Toyota Castrol crew of Didier Auriol and Denis Giraudet spent the day powering their way through the field to finish in eighth position overnight, however team-mates Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya were forced into a disappointing retirement in only the first stage of the rally. Rallye Monte Carlo is renowned for being one of the trickiest events in the calendar - tyre choice is critical, and the winners will not necessarily have been the fastest but the most skilful tacticians. Surprised by the percentage of ice in the opening section, Didier lost time running on tyres not ideally suited to the conditions. Dropping to 25th overall, the Frenchman took the following stages by storm, climbing to 12th by the end of special stage 3. The two remaining stages of the day, run together without the opportunity to change tyres, proved decisive and Didier stormed to eighth after setting two second-fastest stage times on rubber suited to the wet conditions. "Today has been very interesting for everyone," said Didier. "Basically I am happy but for sure we made a wrong tyre choice on the first stage this morning and this is why we went off. Without that, we would be in a much better position but as everyone knows, anything can and does happen in the Rallye Monte Carlo. By comparison with many people, Denis and I have been lucky to escape with only this. We are doing some fine tuning to the suspension this evening and I am confident we will be able to push hard again tomorrow." Carlos Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya - three-time winners of this famous rally - know better than most to treat this event with respect. However, even the Spaniards got caught out in the icy conditions first thing this morning and were forced to retire. "The conditions were terrible and there was complete ice on the first corner," said Carlos. "We went straight off and damaged the front end of the car. Fortunately we managed to get back on the road but, because of the earlier damage, the bonnet worked lose and flew up. I couldn't see a thing, we hit more ice and under-steered straight off. We were just too far off the road to continue. This is not a good way to start the season and I feel very disappointed. On a positive note though, every year I have won in Monte Carlo we have not won the Championship. Maybe this means our luck will change!" Leg 2 of the Rallye Monte Carlo starts from Gap (France) on Tuesday at 07:15 hrs (local) for a further five special stages that will bring the crews back to Monaco for the overnight halt.

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Didier Auriol , Luis Moya , Denis Giraudet
Tags TEST