M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continue to hold a popular lead at Rallye Monte-Carlo – increasing the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC’s advantage at the head of the field.
The Blue Oval continues to hold more fastest times than any other manufacturer, and has led from the very first stage. With a resurgent Elfyn Evans climbing to sixth, and Bryan Bouffier producing a solid drive in eighth, all three top-specification Fiestas are also positioned safely inside the top-ten.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been another strong day for the team with Sébastien consolidating his lead and Elfyn climbing to sixth with the potential to go even further tomorrow.
“Sébastien really is a master of strategy, and he proved that today. Identifying the first and most challenging stage to make his move, he took more than a minute out of Ott [Tänak] and it’s just been a case of controlling the pace since then.
“Elfyn too has shown great speed and hinted at what could have been were it not for that unlucky puncture on Thursday night. He’s up to sixth now and with less than half a minute separating him from the two positions ahead, there’s a chance to gain even more tomorrow.
“Bryan also has really impressed. This is his first time behind the wheel of one of these new-generation world rally cars and he is delivering a very intelligent drive that could be rewarded with a solid result tomorrow.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continue to hold a popular lead at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Controlling their position behind the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, the French pairing hold a 33.5 second lead ahead of the final 63.98 kilometres.
Making it count when the conditions were at their most challenging, Ogier took more than a minute out of his main rival on the opening stage alone. Consolidating his lead thereafter, just four more stages now stand between the home crowd favourites and a sixth Monte victory.
SS9: 2nd (+22.2)
SS10: 4th (+15.0)
SS11: 2nd (+15.3)
SS12: 6th (+10.6)
SS13: 8th (+16.0)
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“We started less than 15 seconds in front of Ott [Tänak] and now we have an advantage of 33 seconds so I am happy with that.
“We had a really good first stage in extremely challenging conditions where we managed to take a lot of time. It was a bit trickier after that, but it’s never easy to manage the gap when the conditions are this difficult. It’s not my style to take unnecessary risks so maybe I was a bit too careful, but it’s been a good day overall.
“We still have 64 kilometres to go and I know Ott will give it everything until the end so we cannot afford to relax, and will need to stay focused with good pace in the morning.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Continuing their fight back, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have climbed to sixth place overall with the potential for further gains behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC tomorrow.
Despite being disadvantaged by their early running order through this morning’s snow-strewn stages, the pairing kept their heads and pushed hard to gain time on their rivals.
As the snow cleared for the afternoon loop, Evans upped his pace with a string of competitive stage times. Not even an intermittent issue with the intercom could slow his speed – the Welshman just 2.9 seconds adrift of the fastest time on SS12 whilst only hearing 40 percent of the pacenotes.
With just 21.7 seconds separating him from fourth place, and four tricky stages left to contest, Evans could yet make further advances and there remains all to play for.
SS9: 8th (+1:32.3)
SS10: 6th (+22.0)
SS11: 3rd (+18.3)
SS12: 4th (+2.9)
SS13: 2nd (+2.1)
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“It’s not been the easiest day for sure, but I think we can be satisfied with our performance. We saw a lot of contrasting and challenging conditions today – and the morning stages were especially difficult. With our road position considered, I think the pace was pretty good.
“There’s just over 20 seconds separating us from the guys ahead, but it looks as though the conditions could be a bit more settled tomorrow. That will make it difficult to produce any big gains, but we have to keep going and see what’s possible.”
BOUFFIER AND PANSERI
Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri currently hold eighth place on their maiden outing with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Discovering the performance of the top-specification Fiesta, the Frenchmen have delivered an intelligent drive through the event’s typically challenging terrain.
Making the right calls on the tyres and driving to the conditions, the pairing could well be rewarded with a solid result come the end of the rally.
SS9: 7th (+1:32.1)
SS10: 8th (+33.1)
SS11: 8th (+47.5)
SS12: 9th (+13.2)
SS13: 9th (+22.0)
Bryan Bouffier (8th) said:
“This has been a typical day at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a lot of different and challenging conditions. It’s what makes this rally so enjoyable, and it has been a lot of fun.
“At times it can be difficult to adapt the pace to the slippery sections and those with more grip, but it’s been a good day and I am quite happy.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Teemu Suninen said:
“I’m really thankful to the mechanics who were able to repair the car last night as we’ve had a really good day today. I was really pleased with my pace and was able to learn a lot about this difficult rally – especially about the weather, and about the tyre choices. It’s a shame about the mistake yesterday, but today has been much better for us.”
Eric Camilli said:
“We had a problem with a fuel pump sensor on the first stage this afternoon [SS11]. We tried everything we could to fix it, but at the end it wasn’t possible to continue.
“It’s been a disappointing weekend because the pace was good and we really wanted to push for the victory, but it wasn’t to be.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:30:30.9
2. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.5
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +59.2
4. Esapekka Lapp / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:05.8
5. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen DS3 WRC) +4:40.1
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:00.2
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5:33.6
8. Bryan Bouffier / Xavier Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:43.4
9. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen DS3 WRC) +8:49.0
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +14:04.4