DIVERSE FORTUNES FOR THE C3 WRC CREWS
Seventh and ninth overall this morning, Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle experienced contrasting fortunes on day two. Whilst the former crew suffered poor luck, falling back to tenth position after a brake problem, the latter pair moved up the standings to end the day in sixth place, ready to seize any opportunities on day three, during which the snow that has been forecast all week is finally due to make an appearance…
With or without snow, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is a real challenge from start to finish. There was plenty evidence of this today, as extremely difficult road conditions prevailed with dampness in the air throughout the morning loop, and then rain in the afternoon. However, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews were not caught out by the changeable weather, opting to run with four Michelin soft slicks (S6) and two super softs (SS6) in the morning, before deciding to go with six SS6s for the second loop.
Craig Breen made a strong start this morning, setting the third fastest time through the final split on the opening stage. Unfortunately, he then suffered a stroke of bad luck, a stone lodging itself in the wheel rim and damaging the brake calliper's bleed nipple, which meant that he gradually lost braking power. With advice from the team, he managed to perform makeshift repairs in the time allowed between stages, but lost more time on the next two speed tests, dropping down to tenth overall at the end of the opening loop.
With his hopes dashed of achieving a strong points finish, he will now treat the rest of the rally like an in-competition test for future outings. He nonetheless set a fourth fastest time on the second pass on Roussieux-Eygalayes (30.54km), the wettest stage of the afternoon loop, thus confirming his good pace on this atypical road surface.
Meanwhile, following his misfortune yesterday evening, Kris Meeke made a relatively cautious start to the day, but changes made to the set-up of his C3 WRC during midday service enabled him to increase his confidence for the second pass. He showed his renewed confidence after lunch, setting the fifth fastest time on Vitrolles-Oze (26.72km), just 8.2s off the pace. His time was all the more impressive given he was running seventh, a less than ideal position given all the mud dragged onto the line by those tackling the stage before him. Back up to sixth overall this evening, the Ulsterman ended the day on a high note, with another fourth fastest time.
With substantial gaps already established between the competitors, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews hope to take advantage of the rain and snow forecast for tomorrow in Champsaur, to the north of Gap, to show what they can do…
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Obviously, I'm disappointed for Craig, who deserved better. After his problems, we decided to concentrate our efforts on the future, the aim now being for Craig to get as many miles as possible under his belt whilst we focus on improving the set-up. I'm pleased to finally see Kris gradually grow in confidence, and move back up the standings. We are going to try to keep moving in this direction, whilst remaining ready to seize any opportunities that may come our way."
"Snow is forecast for the rest of the rally and when it comes, it might just shake everything up, so I hope that it works in our favour! Although it's not quite perfect yet, I'm pleased to have got a better feeling in the car this afternoon, especially as the level of grip was particularly low, with a lot of rain, mud and patches of blacktop…"
"We didn't have a lot of luck this morning with the brake issue. It has never happened to me before, but it ruined our loop. The afternoon was much better, particularly with the good time on SS7, although it's really difficult to get among the leaders when you're driving on stages at full racing speed for the first time. I hope we manage to make the most of our strengths in the conditions tomorrow, which are expected to be really tough again."
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 02:07:15.4
- Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 14.9
- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 59.7
- Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:09.9
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:10.1
- Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:45.5
- Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 3:34.6
- Evans/Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4:01.7
- Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 4:04.1
- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 5:06.6