Disputed in the hills above Monaco, the final day of the 84th Rallye Monte Carlo saw no significant changes to the overall standings. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau provided further evidence of their progress as they secured fifth place overall. It was their best result to date in the World Rally Championship.
Featuring three stages – including a run over the legendary Col de Turini – the fourth and final leg of the 2016 Rallye Monte-Carlo was, in principle, the easiest to negotiate. As the roads were predominantly dry, Stéphane Lefebvre opted to run with Michelin Pilot Sport S5 tyres (soft slicks) for the entire morning.
Fifth fastest on “Col de l’Orme – St Laurent”, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crew took another big step forward as they set the third fastest time between La Bollène Vésubie and Peira Cava, via the famous Col du Turini! At just 4/10ths of a second off the stage-winning pace, the talented young Frenchman had never come so close to a WRC stage win.
Stéphane made to the end of the Power Stage without incident to seal his fifth place overall in the final standings. He even came close to scoring a bonus point on the Power Stage as he finished fourth, just 23/1000ths behind Andreas Mikkelsen.
Congratulated by Bernard Piallat, Team Principal, Abu Dhabi Total WRT and Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau were finally able to relax as they crossed the final podium of a “real Monte-Carlo”. In three weeks’ time, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT will pursue its season at Rally Sweden (11-14 February) with three cars driven by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson.
Stéphane Lefebvre: “Obviously, I’m delighted to finish in the top five, especially after such a difficult rally. I lacked experience when the grip levels were constantly changing and it was tough to find the right rhythm at that point. When the conditions became more consistent, I was able to make use of the experience I acquired at the end of last season. Picking up where we had left off with the performance on Sisteron-Thoard on Saturday evening, I kept posting top-five times throughout the final leg. There was more water on the Col du Turini stage than I had anticipated so I took it easy on the downhill section. And I still set the third fastest time! It’s good to finish the rally on such a positive note.”
Kris Meeke: “I was pleased with my morning, because my times were consistent with the road conditions that I had. There was a lot of snow and mud being pulled onto the road by the guys ahead. That’s just how it is, if I want to be first on the road in Monte-Carlo then I have to be world champion! Obviously, it’s bitterly disappointing to go out like this after coming through all the challenges of the last three days. It happened on the exit of a fast bend, I felt a big impact under the car even I had taken the same line this morning. We now know that there was a large bedrock that must have come loose as more cars completed the stage. Nevertheless, it was strong performance we produced with Paul, the team and the car, so I’m pleased about that. It’s encouraging for the rest of the season.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS
- Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo-R WRC) 3h49.53.1
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo-R WRC) +1:54.5
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:17.9
- Ostberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:47.7
- Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +7:35.6
- Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10:35.5
- Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11:39.9
- Evans / Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +18:30.8
- Lappi / Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +20:41.0
- Kremer / Winklhofer (Skoda Fabia R5) +20:43.9