M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin continue to hold a strong sixth place after rolling the dice with a brave tyre choice this afternoon. With their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC less than 30 seconds adrift of the podium, Rallye Monte-Carlo is far from over and there remains all to play for.
Taking four of Michelin’s Pilot Alpin Soft tyres and two studded tyres into the afternoon loop, the Brits knew that they would lose time on the first stage (SS6) – a long stretch of compacted ice demanding a cautious drive from the Welshman.
But the conditions came to him on the next test (SS7) where Evans set the second fastest time. In hindsight, a cross of the two tyre types on the final stage (SS8) would have provided the optimum configuration for the loop as a whole, but nothing ventured nothing gained and the team can remain upbeat on another positive day at the office.
Returning to the stages following yesterday’s disappointment, Teemu Suninen and Marko Salminen focused on gaining the vital experience needed to tame this legendary event.
Not in a fight for the top positions, the Finns took care to learn the stages and took the same tyre choice as their team mate Evans over the afternoon loop – a brave move that rewarded them with the fourth fastest time through the second pass of Roussieux – Laborel (SS7).
Continuing his debut with the new-generation Ford Fiesta WRC, Pontus Tidemand adopted a steady start but showed great progress throughout the day. Getting closer to the leading times, he was the third fastest man at the second split point of SS6.
Unfortunately, the Swede then damaged the front-left wishbone of his Fiesta in a cut. He and co-driver Ola Fløene were forced to retire for the day but will return to gain more knowledge and experience tomorrow.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We’ve seen another strong performance from Elfyn and Scott today. We decided to take a bit of a risk with the tyre choice this afternoon – losing time in the first stage but then setting the second fastest time on the second. In hindsight, we didn’t get the combination quite right for the last stage but it’s still been a positive afternoon.
“The conditions for tomorrow look tricky again and hopefully there’ll be an opportunity to take some more time back. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing and see how far up the leader board we can get.
“Teemu had a much better day – learning the rally and setting the fourth fastest time with his slick tyres on SS6 – and you could see how much Pontus was improving both his pace and his confidence. At one point this afternoon he was the third quickest man in the stage which was pretty impressive, but then he just got caught out which was a real shame.”
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“We had a pretty good day behind the wheel, but were maybe just a little bit too brave on the tyre choice this afternoon. It’s all part of the game and it was certainly nice to get a feeling for the car on pure Tarmac with full Tarmac tyres again [on SS7]. The rest of the day has been pretty tricky and we lost a bit too much time on the icy sections, but that’s what this rally is all about. We’re still here, and we’ll keep at it tomorrow.”
Teemu Suninen (22nd / Rally 2) said:
“Of course I always want to be faster, but I think we have had a good day getting through all of the kilometres and learning a lot about this rally. We took four slick and two studded tyres this afternoon which might have been a bit of a risk. On the first stage there was a long snow section – about seven or eight kilometres – and we lost a lot of time there; but on the other hand we were fourth fastest on the next stage where I would say we had the best possible tyre choice.”
Pontus Tidemand (40th / Rally 2) said:
“On the inside of a corner I was just following the line, but there was something there and it broke the wishbone. I don’t know what it was, but it was the same corner where Esapekka [Lappi] also had some damage. Before that the pace was getting better and better. It will take some time to get there, but I felt like everything was going in the right direction. For sure we are just here to learn, and we plan to continue that tomorrow.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) 1:37:17.3
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:17.7
4. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:25.1
5. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:25.9
6. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:47.5
7. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:34.9
8. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:33.0
9. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +7:00.1
10. Yoann Bonato / Benjamin Bouilloud (Citroen C3 R5) +7:06.1