Courtesy of WRC Media Service Team
The Frenchman’s rivalry heats up with Neuville as the C3 edges ahead.
held a slender lead in his quest for a sixth consecutive Rally
Monte-Carlo victory after a captivating duel in the French Alps on
The world champion, driving a Citroën C3 for the first time, ended the second leg of the FIA World Rally Championship’s season opener with a 2.0sec advantage over arch-rival Thierry Neuville.
two adopted contrasting tyre strategies all day on the mixed condition
speed tests, which varied from bone dry asphalt to snow and ice. It
ensured as many twists and turns on the leaderboard as the drivers
encountered on the corkscrew roads.
The cancellation of the
opening special stage dealt a blow to Ogier, whose studded winter tyres
would have allowed him to profit on the snow and ice. Neuville
capitalised on the next two tests to depose overnight leader Ott Tänak
and head Ogier after the opening loop.
The Belgian dropped
20sec following an overshoot in the afternoon’s opener, when conditions
suited him, and Ogier built a 14.0sec advantage. But the Hyundai i20
driver retaliated to win the final test and close in.
myself and Thierry are clear in front but in Monte-Carlo things can
change quickly,” said Ogier. “It’s important to be on the limit tomorrow
but at this rally the limit is safer than elsewhere. I can do a bit
more, but in Monte a strategy that is a little more careful can pay
Andreas Mikkelsen headed a trio of drivers battling for the final podium place. The Norwegian, driving another i20, climbed to third in the final test. He held a 7.4sec advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris, with the returning Sébastien Loeb 0.8sec further back.
brave tyre choices on his i20 debut saw the nine-time world champion
bouncing up and down the leaderboard. He won two stages, despite a low
start position meaning he had to contend with mud and gravel dragged
onto the roads by those ahead.
completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta ahead of a frustrated Tänak. The
Estonian, who resumed this morning in the lead, fell adrift of Ogier
and Neuville before a broken wheel rim cost 2min 20sec.
penultimate leg journeys north of Gap on familiar roads. A double loop
of two stages precedes a long journey south to Monaco for Sunday’s
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