A DISTINCTLY UNPREDICTABLE RALLY!
85th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo (18-22 January 2017) – Day 3
From Gap to Monaco, day three of the Rallye Monte-Carlo saw the Citroën Racing crews continue to make progress. However, on the road section between Gap and Monaco, Kris Meeke's car was hit by another vehicle, meaning the Ulsterman had to retire! Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen will therefore be the sole representatives of the team in tomorrow's final leg.
* The penultimate leg featured five stages: two runs on Lardier et Valenca – Oze and La Bâtie Montsaléon – Faye, and then a single pass on Bayons – Bréziers. After the last service in Gap, the cars set off for Monaco.
* The conditions were extremely varied, with snow-covered, muddy, wet and dry roads! Citroën's crews used all four types of Michelin tyres available at this rally during the leg.
* Competing under Rally2 rules, both Citroën C3 WRC crews were aiming to improve their knowledge of the car in these very specific conditions. However, the crews had a testing start to the day, with a puncture (SS9) and a power steering issue (SS10) for Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau, and an ignition failure (SS10) for Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle.
* The following stages passed without incident and the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT was able to test various set-up options as the cars made steady progress. Kris Meeke, for example, set the third fastest time on SS13.
* The Northern Irishman will not, however, be able to contest the final leg. The no. 7 C3 WRC was hit by another vehicle on the road section to Monaco, leaving the car with a damaged rear right-hand wheel and the crew with no option but to retire.
* Stéphane Lefebvre gained a place at the end of the day to move up into eleventh position. The Frenchman is therefore just outside the points ahead of tomorrow's final leg.
* Despite competing in conditions that were less favourables for their previous generation car, Craig Breen and Scott Martin impressed once again! After a thrilling ding-dong battle with Dani Sordo, the crew managed to grab fifth place. And after overall leader Thierry Neuville ran into problems, they claimed another place to move into fourth overall!
* Tomorrow, the final leg of the Rallye Monte-Carlo will be contested in the hills above Monaco. Four stages, over a total distance of 53km, will see the competitors tackle the legendary Col de Turini.
YVES MATTON, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL: "We thought we had managed to do the main thing, with our three crews still in the race before the final road section to Monaco. In the C3 WRCs, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre tested different set-ups with some useful feedback. We've only just started to use the car and the miles covered will help us to add to our knowledge, both with regard to the next few rallies and the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo. After the efforts made, it's tough to see Kris retire for such a stupid reason. Meanwhile, Craig Breen has continued with his very good race, showing consistency and speed in all of the conditions. The fact that he is only just shy of the podium places is further confirmation of the improvement we saw him make throughout last season."
KRIS MEEKE: "It was good to be back in the rally today. We spent the day learning. It was a bit difficult to get the confidence back and find the right pace in these conditions. The last stage was drier and we managed to find some decent speed. We gathered a lot of information, so we've now got some work to do to analyse all of that and make progress. Although I could no longer aim for a good overall result, I'm very disappointed not be able to contest the final leg. The Col de Turini is always one of the highlights of the season."
STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE: "Today was pretty tough, especially on the snow, where I struggled to feel confident. I constantly had the feeling that I was almost about to go off. I'd have loved to set a better time on SS13, but I stalled at the start of the stage and that cost me a few seconds. Tomorrow's stages are more familiar and I hope the weather conditions will be a little milder!"
CRAIG BREEN: “It's been an incredible day for us. We had some really nice stage times in the morning on the snow and ice, but we couldn't match the pace of the 2017 WRCs on tarmac. And now we find ourselves in fourth position: it's surprising and fantastic! Well done to the team, the guys are working really hard and my ice-note crew are doing an amazing job. And now on to Monaco!"
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 3
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:26:10.7
2. Tanak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +47.1
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:20.6
4. Breen / Martin (DS 3 WRC) +3:47.3
5. Sordo / Martin (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:03.2
11. Lefebvre / Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC) +16:18.4
38. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:01:02.9
PHOTOS AVAILABLE ON:
citroenracingmedia.com (access restricted to the media)
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