- Ford World Rally Team’s newest recruits, Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson, finished the opening leg of Rallye Monte-Carlo in a competitive podium position following an impressive drive on arduous road conditions. Solberg, who completed only two days testing the Fiesta RS WRC prior to the season’s curtain-raiser, proved his abilities as a world class rally driver by setting a string of top three stage times.
Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were forced to retire after the Finnish pair rolled their Fiesta RS WRC 10km into the day’s closing 30.48km Burzet – St Martial test. Latvala’s retirement proved bitter sweet as the Finn was leading the rally until a driver error proved costly. With no option to re-enter under SupeRally regulations during this event, the 26-year-old will not return to the rally.
Solberg was happy with his competitive return to the Ford camp. “It was a very good first day. I can't ask for much more than a podium spot and now we have to finish the rally and get as many points as possible,” said the Norwegian.
Speaking of his retirement, Latvala concluded that it was human error that caused his early retirement.
“Ten kilometres into the stage the road changed from dry to an icy section. Then on a fast right-hand corner, which tightened 90 degrees, I started to concentrate only on the ice and not on the notes. I was carrying too much speed at that point and I tried to get the car back on the road but it kept sliding wide,” explained the disappointed driver.
“I really wanted to fight for the victory and that’s where I made the mistake,” continued Latvala. “I thought I would be able to gain time on the icy section because that’s where I had been so quick in the morning. I was pushing too hard and it’s so easy to make a mistake in those conditions. Everything was in place to do well, and that is what is killing me inside. Now we need to think about the championship. There are 12 rallies in which we can still fight for victory - we need to come back strong in Sweden,” concluded an optimistic Latvala.
Today’s stages are once again set west of the rally base in Valence in the Ardèche mountains where the weather is expected to be unpredictable. The crews will tackle a repeat loop of two stages covering 131.76 kilometres of competitive distance before they return to the service park for the overnight halt.
Leaderboard after Day 1
|1. S Loeb/D Elena
|2. D Sordo/C Del Barrio Corral
||Mini John Cooper|
|3. P Solberg/C Patterson
|4. S Ogier/J Ingrassia
|5. E Novikov/D Giraudet
|6. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen
|7. F Delecour/D Savignoni
|8. P Campana/S De Castelli
||Mini John Cooper|
|9. O Tänak/K Sikk
|10. PG Andersson/E Axelsson
||Proton Satria S2000|