Overnight showers in the mountains made for a snowy start to the day’s action. Crews tackled a repeat loop of the 29.16km Agnieres en Devoluy-Corps and 16.87km St Leger les Melezes- La Batie Neuve. Many crews were caught out by ever-changing and often unpredictable conditions on the stages, which caused several excursions off the rally line.
Dani Sordo, who held a provisional podium position heading into the penultimate day, went off during Saturday’s opening stage, SS9, and was forced to retire. With no Rally 2 for the final day at Monte, the crash meant it was game over for the Spaniard.
One driver who benefitted from Rally 2 today was Andreas Mikkelsen, who retired on Friday with an alternator problem. The Norwegian immediately claimed a stage win in SS9 and then finished second in SS10, making the most of his later road position and improving conditions.
Thierry Neuville, whose misfortune on Thursday left him over four minutes down the order, continued to mount a recovery charge. As second crew on the road, it was far from an easy task for the Belgian. He persevered to move up to seventh overall, taking consecutive stage wins in SS12 and SS13
Hyundai Motorsport will now prepare for the final day of a frustrating rally with four stages left to contest on Sunday. The team’s two remaining crews will attack a repeat loop of two stages including two climbs up to the legendary Col de Turini, and a final chance for drivers’ championship points in the Power Stage.
Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Belgians move up to seventh overall, 33-seconds from sixth-placed Elfyn Evans
- Stage wins in SS12 and SS13, taking the team’s tally to four so far this weekend
Neuville said: “It has been really tricky at times today. In the first loop, we were really struggling everywhere, particularly as second on the road. The stages improved car by car so we couldn’t do more. We gained one position this morning, but it was unfortunately at Dani’s expense as he had trouble. The second loop was also changeable. We ended up going through a field in SS11 because we hit some standing water under braking, and it was impossible to avoid. It was the same for many crews. We then took two stage wins to move up to seventh overall. My aim for Sunday is to keep up a good rhythm and pace, and do all we can to try and gain another position or two.”
Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Re-joined under Rally 2 to gain experience in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
- Stage win in SS9, the crew’s ninth in four rallies since joining Hyundai Motorsport
Mikkelsen said: “An interesting day! We had a good morning loop. It was proper Monte conditions out there early on, quite slushy. We had to try to follow the lines, a bit like a train, but it wasn’t easy. We had a spin in a straight line, and still came away with the stage win. The afternoon was much the same but with some difficult foggy sections at times. For us the priority today was to get time in the car. From that point of view, it was a useful day but the challenging conditions really limited what was possible. I am pleased we made it to the end of the day, and will see what we can achieve on Sunday morning with our eyes firmly on the Power Stage.”
Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Crew lost control of car in snowy conditions in SS9, ending up in a ditch and retiring
- No Rally 2 option for the final day in Monte-Carlo bringing their rally to an early finish
Sordo said: “There are really no positives to take away from this weekend. I am really disappointed that the rally for us is over, for a stupid incident, after being involved in a nice close fight for the podium. The conditions were really difficult out there this morning. After a few kilometres of the opening stage, the line seemed to improve a bit. It was still relatively slow with the snow as it was difficult to find a good feeling. We didn’t push too much but we suddenly lost grip at the front and went off. With no Rally 2, that’s our Monte-Carlo over. All I can do is look ahead to my next event, which will be Mexico.”
Podium charge halted
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “This has been another bad day for us, and nowhere near the expectations that we had coming into the weekend. Starting this morning we knew that a podium was still a long way off, and so it proved when Dani went out in the first stage of the day. Rally 2 is not an option for Sunday so, regrettably, that marked the end of his Monte-Carlo rally. Thierry and Andreas were already far down the classification after their respective issues on Thursday and Friday. Despite picking up three stage wins between them today, they were out of contention for the results we want to be chasing, and know we can achieve. The conditions today were classic Monte, offering exciting and unpredictable runs for the spectators.”
Sunday’s itinerary at a glance
- Four stages remain on the Rallye Monte-Carlo schedule for Sunday over a competitive distance of 63.98km
- Crews will tackle two runs of La Bollene Vesubie-Peira Cava – including the famous Col de Turini – and a repeat of La Cabanette – Col de Braus
- The final run through this final test will act as the Power Stage with up to five extra points available for the drivers’ championship.
Classification after Day Three
|1||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Ford Fiesta WRC||3:30:30.9|
|2||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||+33.5|
|3||J. M. Latvala||M. Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||+1:32.7|
|4||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Toyota Yaris WRC||+4:38.5|
|5||K. Meeke||P. Nagle||Citroën C3 WRC||+4:40.1|
|6||E. Evans||D. Barritt||Ford Fiesta WRC||+5:00.2|
|7||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+5:33.6|
|8||B. Bouffier||X. Panseri||Ford Fiesta WRC||+5:43.4|
|9||C. Breen||S. Martin||Citroën C3 WRC||+8:49.0|
Press release Hyundai Motorsport ; pictures Jean-Baptiste Lassaux/Sport-Auto.ch]]>