Monte Carlo Rally, SS7, Lamastre-Gilhoc-Alboussiere
Sebastien Loeb has extended his lead of Rallye Monte-Carlo after winning Thursday’s third stage, which was held in increasingly mild ambient temperatures following overnight frost.
The eight-time world champion’s advantage out front now stands at 1m23.2s heading to the midday service halt in Valence.
“The tyre choice was a compromise for this stage because it was mainly dry,” the Citroen ace, who has been fastest on all three stages this morning, told World Rally Radio. “I lost a little bit the grip in the middle part with the [supersoft] tyres but I am satisfied with this loop. My times were good in the first two stages and this one was okay.”
In the thrilling battle for second place, Ford’s Petter Solberg is back in front of Dani Sordo after edging out his MINI-driving rival through the stage by a 4.0s margin.
“I’m very happy about that,” said Solberg who now heads Sordo by 3.7s. “It was very tricky, very slippery in some places. I had one very sideways moment but we are driving sensible, that’s the only thing I can say. It’s so important to keep the position now.”
Sordo, who had moved up to second on stage six, said: “I pushed really, really hard and did not make any mistakes. The time looks bad but I don’t know how.”
Sebastien Ogier was thrilled with his fourth-fastest time in his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia, which is being run by the factory Volkswagen Motorsport team. “On this one it was a fantastic time,” said the seven-time WRC event winner. “We pushed like hell but some places it was still tricky.”
Francois Delecour said swapping crash helmets with co-driver Dominique Savignoni has helped to solve the intercom problem he has been experiencing.
Matthew Wilson is planning to alter to the set-up of his Go Fast Fiesta at service after suggesting the handling wasn’t entirely to his liking. Meanwhile, team-mate Henning Solberg said his car’s engine had dropped onto three cylinders in the stage.
Crews are now heading to Valence for a 30-minute service halt. They will then tackle this morning’s trio of stages for a second time this afternoon.