RALLY MONTE CARLO

Ogier takes his Monte Carlo triple

Look at the people who’ve won the Rallye Monte-Carlo three or more times – as Sébastien Ogier now has – and you see some of the greatest names in the history of rallying: Walter Röhrl, Tommi Mäkinen, Carlos Sainz, Sébastien Loeb. Ogier’s victory was… well, classic Ogier, with barely a missed beat as he calmly negotiated his way from his hometown of Gap all the way back to Monte Carlo.

People might talk about home advantage – one of the stages even passed along the route Ogier used to take to work back when he was a ski monitor – but Ogier’s shown enough class over the last few years for his rivals to know better than that.

Kris Meeke nearly steals the win

While Citroën’s Kris Meeke was nowhere to be seen during Sunday’s glitzy Monte Carlo podium ceremony, the Northern Irishman – who’ll only be competing at selected rounds this season as Citroën develop their 2017 car – came close to spoiling Ogier’s party.

After Ogier took the first stage win of the season, Meeke – with a three-year Citroën contract in his pocket and no championship to aim for – fought back and claimed the second to lead the rally overnight. The pair went toe-to-toe on Friday and Saturday’s stages until a cut through a right-hander saw Meeke rip the sump guard off his DS3 and damage his gearbox. But it was a tantalising look at the type of fight between the pair that we could be treated to next season – in fact, Ogier enjoyed it so much that he called VW to see if they could offer any help to Meeke…

Thierry Neuville re-finds his flow

Hyundai debuted its new i20 WRC at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, with Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville driving the car as Hayden Paddon stuck with the 2015-spec machine. Neuville would be the first to admit that he was in need of a good result in Monte Carlo after a tough previous season, and he showed just why Hyundai had put its faith in him with a strong drive to third, including a number of stage wins in tricky conditions despite still searching for the ideal set-up on his new car.

RALLY MONTE CARLO

A DISTINCTLY UNPREDICTABLE RALLY!

From Gap to Monaco, day three of the Rallye Monte-Carlo saw the Citroën Racing crews continue to make progress. However, on the road section between Gap and Monaco, Kris Meeke’s car was hit by another vehicle, meaning the Ulsterman had to retire! Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen will therefore be the sole representatives of the team in tomorrow’s final leg.

– The penultimate leg featured five stages: two runs on Lardier et Valenca – Oze and La Bâtie Montsaléon – Faye, and then a single pass on Bayons – Bréziers. After the last service in Gap, the cars set off for Monaco.

– The conditions were extremely varied, with snow-covered, muddy, wet and dry roads! Citroën’s crews used all four types of Michelin tyres available at this rally during the leg.

– Competing under Rally2 rules, both Citroën C3 WRC crews were aiming to improve their knowledge of the car in these very specific conditions. However, the crews had a testing start to the day, with a puncture (SS9) and a power steering issue (SS10) for Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau, and an ignition failure (SS10) for Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle.

– The following stages passed without incident and the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT was able to test various set-up options as the cars made steady progress. Kris Meeke, for example, set the third fastest time on SS13.

– The Northern Irishman will not, however, be able to contest the final leg. The no. 7 C3 WRC was hit by another vehicle on the road section to Monaco, leaving the car with a damaged rear right-hand wheel and the crew with no option but to retire.

– Stéphane Lefebvre gained a place at the end of the day to move up into eleventh position. The Frenchman is therefore just outside the points ahead of tomorrow’s final leg.

– Despite competing in conditions that were less favourables for their previous generation car, Craig Breen and Scott Martin impressed once again! After a thrilling ding-dong battle with Dani Sordo, the crew managed to grab fifth place. And after overall leader Thierry Neuville ran into problems, they claimed another place to move into fourth overall!

– Tomorrow, the final leg of the Rallye Monte-Carlo will be contested in the hills above Monaco. Four stages, over a total distance of 53km, will see the competitors tackle the legendary Col de Turini.

RALLY MONTE CARLO

DIFFICULT TO BREAK THE ICE!

The specialists all agree, this year is a “proper Monte-Carlo”, featuring the full range of difficulties that can arise at this event. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has not escaped unscathed – far from it! Today, it was Kris Meeke’s turn to run into trouble, the Ulsterman having to retire after going off on SS4. Both Citroën C3 WRCs will nonetheless continue with their race tomorrow, as they go in search of Manufacturers’ World Championship points.

– This second leg featured two loops of three stages, held in the Hautes-Alpes department. With two thirds of the stages covered in ice and snow, all of the crews decided to opt for Michelin Pilot Alpin A4L/R1 studded tyres.

– The night was decidedly brief for the Citroën Racing mechanics, who worked hard to ensure that Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau could return to action today. On Thursday evening, the no.8 C3 WRC crew had to stop on SS2 when their clutch failed after they had attempted to get out of a snow-covered ditch.

– Fifth after the short opening leg, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle moved into second place after the day’s first stage, SS3. However, the crew went off the road on the next stage after sliding on a sheet of ice. With their suspension broken, they were unable to go any further.

– Never having encountered conditions like this before, Stéphane Lefebvre improved steadily as he completed more stages. Most notably, he set the fourth fastest time on SS5 and moved ahead of around fifty competitors during the course of the day. He ended the leg twelfth overall.

– Despite the tricky conditions, Craig Breen and Scott Martin produced a fine performance in their previous generation WRC. They seized fifth place from Dani Sordo on SS7, before then dropping back down a place after taking a bit of scenic route on the day’s final stage.

RALLY MONTE CARLO

MONTE KICKS OFF AFTER DARK

The 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo officially got underway on Thursday evening, with a leg taking competitors from Monaco to Gap. During the evening’s only fully completed stage, Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was forced to stop with a mechanical issue.

– After setting off from Monaco’s Place du Casino, the crews were to contest two stages on their way to Gap.

– However, SS1 was cancelled after one of the competitors rolled their car midway through the stage. Unfortunately, a spectator was hit in the incident and later died despite the intervention of the emergency services. SS2 went ahead as normal, albeit slightly behind schedule.

– Between Bayons and Bréziers, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle set the fourth fastest time in their Citroën C3 WRC. In line with the instructions given by the team, the British-Irish crew did not take any risks at the start of the rally.

– Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau were forced to stop on this stage due to a transmission problem. As soon as the car is back to the service park, the team will get to work to ensure they are able to return to action under Rally2 rules.

– Craig Breen and Scott Martin made a promising start to their race, recording their seventh fastest time, ahead of two new-generation World Rally Cars.

– Tomorrow, the rally continues with two loops of three stages, covering a total timed distance of 160.8km. The cars are expected to arrive back at the Gap service park from 5.04pm onwards.

FORMULA 1

Double Dutch Bus to the Garden of Motorsports

F1Weekly is blessed with the support of long-time and dedicated listeners. Our man in Amsterdam, Louis Jansen, is passionate and very knowledgeable about Formula 1.
 
We are, with his expressed written consent, happy to share his memories from the trip to Spa-Francorchamps last year with his lady friend and a bus load of Max maniacs.

 
The Dutch have a rich history in motorsports. Their seaside track at Zandvoort was home to the Dutch Grand Prix for many years, and saw many maiden wins for both man and machine.
 
Swedish driver Jo Bonnier scored his and BRM’s first victory here in 1959. The late great Graham Hill scored his first grand prix victory at Zandvoort in 1962, driving the beautiful BRM P57.
 
In 1967, the Scottish legend Jim Clark won first time out with Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 powered by Keith Duckworth-designed Ford-Cosworth DFV.
 
James Hunt and the “Good Lord” Hesketh were the winners in 1975.
 
 
Max! The youngest grand prix driver and race winner.

Youngest world champion? If TAG-Heuer’s timing is right and Red Bull has the package, the young Dutch treat might deliver this historical achievement in the near future.

FORMULA 1

IT’S OFFICIAL…BOTTAS TO MERCEDES AND ANOTHER YEAR OF FELIPE MASSA.

Bottas’ move to F1’s most sought after seat provides the opportunity for Brazilian Felipe Massa to come out of retirement to replace the Finn at Williams and pair up with Canadian teenager Lance Stroll.
“It’s mega to be driving a Silver Arrow this year,” Bottas said at Mercedes’ factory Monday. “I can’t wait to get working properly.
“My goal is immediately at the first race to get all the points that are available. I guarantee I will be giving it all. I want to thanks Toto (Wolff, Mercedes head of motorsport) and everyone at the Mercedes and Daimler boards for this opportunity.
“This is my fifth season in F1. I got nine podiums with Williams, but I’m still missing my first win, so that’s my first mission.”
Bottas finished the 2016 season in ninth place with 85 points, with his only podium coming as he finished third at the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
New teammate Hamilton, who Rosberg pipped to the world title by five points, endured some frosty exchanges with Mercedes over the course of last season, but Bottas is confident they will perform well as a duo.
“I think with Lewis we are going to be a strong pair together,” the 27-year-old said. “I really respect him as a driver and a person.
“I’m sure we are going to close, and we’re going to be both pushing each forward. I’m sure we can work as a team.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast