Sat Day 4
SS14 and SS15: Novikov, Latvala and Hanninen crash out
A couple of hours before SS14, 75 per cent of the Turini roads were covered in snow and the white stuff was falling. Then it turned to rain, and the roads became a treacherous mix of snow, slush and water. Carnage ensued.
The Ford Fiesta RS of third-placed Evgeny Novikov, Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R and Juho Hanninen’s Fiesta RS all crashed out as drivers were reduced to little more than walking pace.
Tyre selection was irrelevant as drivers emerged in a state of shock, describing conditions as the most difficult they had experienced
The man that made the best of it was Bryan Bouffier, who was fastest by 29.1sec in a Citroen DS3. However, his time of 23min 56.9sec for the 23.54kms emphasised just how hard it was.
“My notes were bad. A lot of corners were supposed to be clear but were icy. I stayed in the middle of the road without mistakes. It wasn’t the most beautiful stage I’ve done in my life because it was so slippery, but I did a good time,” he said.
Qatar Ford’s Mads Ostberg was second, the Norwegian stating: “I couldn’t walk through there, I’m sure, and we tried to do this in a car. It was unbelievable all the way from the start. It was so wet with no grip at all. I drove the car in road mode for much of the stage.”
Sebastien Ogier was third, 49.2sec slower than Bouffier. “I was driving at 20kph in places. I touched a barrier at least twice,” explained the Polo R pilot.
Fourth fastest was Sebastien Loeb in his Citroen DS3, 3.5sec behind his fellow Frenchman. “It’s undriveable,” said the nine-time world champion. “The roads were snow and water and we were aquaplaning all the time. We had no grip. We drove at 30kph on the straights because if you go quicker you lose the car completely and you go off.”
With Novikov’s demise, Dani Sordo climbed to third overall in his DS3 after setting fifth fastest time. “It was so bad that I lost control uphill in first gear!” said the Spaniard. “On the downhill section just after the col, there were two right corners where we didn’t have grip.”
Novikov pulled the rear left wheel from his car 3km after the start and although he tried to continue, he stopped shortly afterwards. Fifth-placed Latvala went off the road near the start, while Hanninen retired from seventh in a downhill section 5km from the finish after ripping off the front left wheel.
Mikko Hirvonen was sixth, the Finn admitting: “It was the most difficult stage I’ve ever driven over Turini in my life. It was so easy to lose the car. You just wait for the next wall and hope nothing breaks.”
After the drama of the Turini stage, drivers were moved onto SS15 from Lantosque to Luceram. Conditions were easier, the lower altitude meaning the roads were mostly wet – something for the drivers to give thanks for.
Sordo was fastest by 4.3sec from Hirvonen, with Ogier a further 1.9sec behind. Loeb and Bouffier rounded off the top five times.
“Most of the stage was OK, but at the top of the col it was half ice and half snow which made things difficult,” said Sordo.
Drivers were still stunned by what they had encountered in the previous test and fearing the worst when they return there again shortly.
But for Mads Ostberg the dramas continued before SS15. “We didn’t have time to change tyres so I needed to take care of my studs before the second pass through Turini. I probably lost time but I wanted to ensure my tyres were OK for the next one,” he said.
The Norwegian was sixth fastest, 30.5sec slower than Sordo.
click: wrc.com/monte ss14 & ss15
SS16: Loeb the master of slush
A fastest time for Sebastien Loeb on SS16 means that with just two more stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo to go, the Citroen DS3 driver holds a 1m39.9s lead over Sebastien Ogier and remains on course to take his seventh Monte victory later today.
The second of Saturday’s three passes through the Turini stage presented crews with a very different challenge to the first, when the extreme slush and snow took out three top 10 drivers. In contrast, SS16 was run in darkness, in patchy rain, and even though there was still plenty of slush about, there were also two clean lines of wet asphalt for most of the route.
The most effective approach was to keep the car in the lines and avoid the slush. However, before the drive back to Monaco for service, a deflated Loeb explained that it wasn’t exactly high-adrenaline stuff. “It’s really uninteresting to drive like this, but if you go out of the lines you are off the road,” he explained.
“So you just drive slowly, which isn’t very interesting for us or the spectators, but it’s like that. I put on a small display for the spectators at the top - but only because I lost control a bit…”
Ogier also adopted a safe strategy at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R. The Frenchman no doubt aware of the importance of getting to the finish on the team’s debut rally – especially after Jari-Matti Latvala crashed the other Polo on SS14. ”Not easy stages today, but we are driving very safe now. Nothing more to do I think,” explained Ogier.
Citroen DS3 driver Dani Sordo headed to service in third, 2m09.1 behind Ogier, after benefiting from Evgeny Novikov’s retirement on SS14. The Spaniard was third fastest through SS16, but admitted he had backed off after he saw split times from the cars behind. “When I saw I was okay I took it a little easier,” he said. “It’s been a really tough morning so I’m pleased to be here.”
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi Dhabi team driver Mikko Hirvonen holds fourth, having gained two places with the exits of Latvala and Novikov. “Pretty much a safe strategy now. I’ve got to get the car home safely,” he acknowledged. “I had one small moment, when we slipped onto the slush, but apart from that no problems.”
Almost three minutes behind Hirvonen, Citroen pilot Bryan Bouffier is fifth, having inherited the position from Mads Ostberg who strayed off the racing line 3km from the start. “I went wide and hit something with the right-hand rear wheel,” explained the Ford Fiesta RS driver. “I broke the wheel and the suspension. The brakes aren’t working well but I think we’ll get back to service.”
The incident cost Ostberg almost six minutes, dropping him 3m50.6s behind Bouffier. Martin Prokop is seventh 11m23.6s further back, with Sepp Wiegand (Skoda Fabia S2000), Olivier Burri (Peugeot 207 S2000) and Michal Kosciuszko (MINI John Cooper Works) rounding off the top ten.
A trio of stage wins for Sepp Wiegand kept him in the lead of WRC 2 with a healthy 8m25.8s advantage over Armin Kremer.
Despite the treacherous conditions of SS14, Wiegand began the day in dominating fashion, setting the seventh fastest time overall in his Skoda Fabia S2000. He repeated the feat on SS16 – despite a spin at the top of the Col.
“All is okay so far today but the Turini was so, so difficult. It was crazy,” said the German. “On the first pass I saw a lot of cars had gone off, then we caught and passed Kosciuszko. After that we slowed down to take it a bit safer.”
Subaru Impreza pilot Armin Kremer said he as relived to be in the rally at all after the ‘crazy’ conditions of SS14. He headed to service in Monaco with a 2m55.5s cushion over fellow Subaru driver Yuriy Protasov whose vision was hampered by a misting windscreen.
Fourth placed Rashid Al Ketbi (Skoda Fabia S2000) trails Protasov, with Ricardo Trivinio (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) the final runner in fifth.
Sebastien Chardonnet, the sole remaining WRC 3 entrant, completed the trio of stages without incident to remain of course for a maximum 10 points today. ‘Very difficult stages, lots of slippery ice. Now we just try to drive slowly and get to the finish,” said the Citroen DS3 R3T driver.
click: wrc.com/monte ss16
Breaking News SS17 & SS18 Cancelled
Loeb wins Monte
The organisers of Rallye Monte-Carlo have stopped the event early, after huge numbers of spectators forced the cancellation of the final two stages on safety grounds.
The results after SS16 become the final classification, meaning Citroen DS3 driver Sebastien Loeb has claimed his 77th victory in the FIA World Rally Championship and his seventh on the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Sebastien Ogier claimed second on his debut event in the Volkswagen Motorsport team’s Polo R. Dani Sordo took the final podium place in his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total Team DS3.
click: wrc.com/Breaking News ss17 & ss18 cancelled
whoah what a end... !!