Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lead Rallye Monte Carlo with a 17.3-second advantage after the two late night Thursday stages. The WRC crews started the 2018 season with an immensely challenging opener – Sisteron, in reverse, in the dark.
Whereas a number of their rivals lost time on a particularly icy downhill section, the French pairing suffered just a single spin – claiming the stage win as well as the fastest time through the following speed test.
“We knew it would be tough to cross the icy section with slick tyres and we actually had a spin there”, Ogier said. “I think almost everyone had a moment in there, but luckily, we didn’t lose too much time. The rest of the stage was also very tricky with the grip changing all the time and it was challenging to know where you could and couldn’t push.”
“I was happy with the car and in these conditions and you need to be comfortable or you don’t have any chance to be fast. There are still some small things here and there that we can do to improve, but I’m happy and it’s a good start.”
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lead Rallye Monte Carlo with a 17.3-second advantage after the night stages
Andreas Mikkelsen is in second place, followed by his Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo. The difference between them is 8.3sec.
“A tricky start to the rally for everyone, so I think we can be pretty happy with these first two stages”, Mikkelsen commented. “We played it a bit safe because of the conditions. It was difficult to know how much to attack. I lost the brakes towards the end of SS1, which wasn’t ideal for the confidence. There was a lot of gravel on the second stage, so at every corner, we had to leave a safety margin. It’s easy to make a mistake. There is still a long way to go and lots of things can happen.”
Sordo added that the main priority for Thursday evening’s two stages “was to make it through to the end without too much trouble. Even if the stages were complicated to drive, we achieved our initial target and can now look forward to the first complete day of rallying. We know that this is a tough, demanding event, so it is too early to get carried away. Naturally, we will do all we can to keep fighting at the front.”
Today the crews will tackle six stages, a repeat loop of three individual tests covering a total distance of 144.88km.
The longest day in terms of outright competitive distance will begin with the 26.72km Vitrolles-Oze stage, followed by the longer 30.54km Roussieux-Eygalayes and the loop will conclude with the 15.18km Vaumeilh-Claret test.
A 30-minute lunchtime service splits the two loops with a 48-minute flexi-service at the end of the day’s action.
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