Tag Archives: Rallye Monte-Carlo

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.

WRC

Monte Carlo 2014

RALLY MONTE-CARLO WINNER Sebastien Ogier has admitted his world title defence could have got off to a very different start if his team hadn’t made some improvements to his VW Polo R WRC during the close season.

The Frenchman, who along with co-driver Julien Ingrassia picked up his winners’ trophy from the prince’s palace in Monaco this morning, came close to disaster on the first corner of the very first stage when he understeered into a wall.

He feared it was a rally-ending moment. But the strength of his car came to the rescue and he marched on to win the event by 1m 18s.

“We had a bit of luck this weekend, we have to admit that,” Ogier said. “Our race could have ended on the first corner. All the road section was very humid and then on the first corner of the first stage there was small slush on the road. We understeered into a wall.”

“Fortunately, the improvements we made on the car during the winter were quite clever because we reinforced all the steering and suspension. Now, I think that was a good idea.”

Nearly all of the crews were caught out by the unexpected wintry conditions on Thursday’s first stage and Ogier blamed his mistake on a wrong tyre choice. Just like his rivals, he was using Michelin’s super-soft slick tyre.

Ogier added: “We struggled a lot with the weather information on day one, but fortunately, everyone copied us. If someone had taken four snow tyres, they would maybe have taken a five-minute lead.”

VW Motorsport boss, Jost Capito, acknowledged that Ogier had been fortunate. “If he would have crashed like that in last year’s car, he might have been gone,” he said.

WRC

Monte Carlo Rally Citroen

82ND RALLYE AUTOMOBILE MONTE-CARLO (14-19/01/2014) – PREVIEW
CITROËN RACING OPENS ITS SEASON AT THE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO—

_NZW9044

  • Citroën Racing gets its sporting season underway at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.
  • Two DS3 WRCs are competing on behalf of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. They will be driven by the crews Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (no.3) and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (no.4).
  • For the first time since it began competing in the WRC, Citroën Racing has completely changed its driver line-up from one season to the next.
  • Starting with the ID19 in 1959 and most recently in the DS3 WRC in 2013, Citroën has won in Monaco nine times.

 

CITROËN AND THE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO: A SHORT HISTORY LESSON…

Among its record number of WRC wins (93 victories since 2001), Monte-Carlo has a very special place in Citroën’s sporting and media history.

André Citroën was a big fan of marketing and therefore had no hesitation in entering his latest model at the 1934 rally. This was in spite of the fact the new car, the T45, was a pre-production vehicle, driven by a dozen or so crew members and finished the race 98th overall!

In 1959, the Brand won the rally for the first time in a Citroën ID 19 driven by Paul Coltelloni and Pierre Alexandre. Seven years later, Pauli Toivonen and Ensio Mikander secured a more unexpected win for the DS 21. Since it entered the WRC as a works team at the start of the last decade, Citroën has scored a series of wins in the Principality. In 2002, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena dominated the event, but came away as runners-up. The Franco-Monegasque pair then went on to win seven out of the next eight rallies in a Xsara WRC, C4 WRC and DS3 WRC. The 2003 rally even saw an all-Citroën podium made up of Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, Colin McRae/Derek Ringer and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti.

Last year, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena once again proved unbeatable, dominating the event after managing to negotiate the tricky road conditions created by the weather.

VERY SPECIFIC PREPARATION FOR AN EVENT LIKE NO OTHER

A winter rally held in the hills between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is reputed for its highly varied, testing road conditions. The tarmac can be dry or wet, covered in ice or snow: the road surface changes over time, varies in different parts of the stages and as more cars come through.

To prepare for this testing rally, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team organised several test sessions in the south east of France, close to the route of the rally.

Chief Operations Engineer for the DS3 WRCs, Didier Clément detailed the method applied by the team: “Our test campaign was split into two stages. Before Christmas, both crews spent two days in the Alpes-Maritimes department. They were able to get used to driving the Citroën DS3 WRC on roads without any tricky sections. Then, a few days ahead of the rally, we made things more difficult for them. They had to drive with studded tyres on dry roads and slick tyres on the snow. We also tested the intermediate configurations, with combined tyre set-ups. Kris and Mads had to get to grips with these kinds of situations, which can easily arise at some point or another in the rally.”

By trying to cover as many different situations as possible in testing, the team was therefore able to boost its already very extensive knowledge base. “During the rally, it’ll be a question of making the best – or the least bad – tyre choice. You have to anticipate the conditions, comparing the information provided by the gravel crews with data from our weather experts and from Météo France,” explained Didier Clément. “Using all this information, as well as our experience and feedback from testing, we recommend a tyre choice to the crews. However, it is always the driver who has the final say, because he must feel confident in the car to be able to push.”

For this rally, each driver will be able to use a maximum of 45 tyres. Within the Michelin range, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team works crews will choose between soft and super-soft slick tyres, as well as studded and non-studded winter tyres.

KRIS MEEKE’S SIXTH OUTING AT MONTE-CARLO, BUT HIS FIRST IN THE WRC!

Kris Meeke has plenty of experience of competing at Monte-Carlo, having raced here five times already: “My favourite memory goes back to 2005. It was my first rally in a Citroën; I was competing in the Junior WRC in a C2 Super 1600. The conditions were difficult, as ever, with snow and ice. I remember that year in particular, as I took the JWRC category win!”

From experience, Kris knows that Monte-Carlo can be decided by minor details: “Understanding the road – being able to read the surface conditions and reacting accordingly – is the best way to do well here. It is pointless aiming for a particular result. The goal is to be consistent, not make any mistakes and focus on the main priority, which is to make it to the finish. If everything goes well, your efforts will be rewarded by a good result.”

“Testing allowed me to get used to the handling of the DS3 WRC in particularly demanding conditions,” continued the British driver. “On the snow or ice, it’s essential to be confident in yourself and in the car. The work we did helped me to learn and improve. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what sort of weather we get in the race!”

MADS ØSTBERG IS HOPING FOR SNOW!

Reflecting on his first outing at the rally in 2013, Mads Østberg particularly remembered the legendary Col du Turini stages: “I thought I had lost several minutes, because I was struggling to find any grip. I was fighting in the car, but had the impression I was totally powerless. At the end of the stage, I was so frustrated that I took off my helmet and put my head in my hands… And then someone told me that I had actually just set the fastest time so far. I was ahead of all of the leaders!”

Like all Scandinavian drivers, Mads is especially comfortable in slippery, low-grip conditions. The Norwegian would therefore not be averse to facing genuinely wintry conditions: “Monte-Carlo is a real challenge for the first race of the season. I haven’t done a lot of miles in the car as yet, but I had a good feeling in testing. I feel that the Citroën DS3 WRC is a really steady car, with a very powerful engine. Testing gave me the chance to experience just about everything that might be thrown at us during the rally. I thought that I fared pretty well with slick tyres on the snow, although it was sometimes more a question of survival than of racing… In any case, if I could choose the weather, I’d ask for as much snow as possible!”

CLASSIC STAGES RETURN TO MONTE-CARLO

Based in Valence in recent years, the rally looks very different this year, with over 90% of the route changed compared with last year. The 82nd edition of the rally gets underway in Gap on Thursday, 16 January. The race will start with two runs on a loop of three stages, in the morning and then in the afternoon: Orpierre – Saint André de Rosans (25.49km), Rosans – Sainte Marie – La Charce (17.98km) and Montauban sur l’Ouvèze – Col du Perty – Laborel (19.34km).

On Friday, 17 January, the crews will complete another loop around Gap with Vitrolles – Col d’Espreaux – Faye (49.03km) and Selonnet – Col des Garcinets – Bréziers (22.68km). After the midday break, the cars will head for Monaco with a second run on Vitrolles – Col d’Espreaux – Faye followed by the Sisteron – Col de Fontbelle – Thoard stage (36.85km). A regroup at Digne-les-Bains will enable the teams to change tyres, before the crews tackle the Clumanc – Col du Défend – Lambruisse stage (20.77km) after nightfall.

Meanwhile, the teams will dismantle the service structures installed near to the aquatics centre in Gap. They will be reinstalled overnight on the port of Monaco, the nerve centre for Saturday’s final leg. The final day’s action will revolve around the Col du Turini with two loops of two stages, made up of La Bollène Vésubie – Col de Turini – Moulinet (23.40km) and Sospel – Col de Brouis – Breil sur Roya (16.55km). The rally is scheduled to finish at 10.41pm.

WRC

Loeb Monte Carlo 2013

SEBASTIAN LOEB CONTINUES WHERE HE LEFT OFF LEADING IN MONTE CARLO.

Although he has no plans to contest the entire WRC in 2013, Sébastien Loeb has clearly lost none of his motivation. The first four stages of the Rallye Monte-Carlo saw the Citroën driver leave his rivals gasping for breath, their ranks led by Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier who trails by 1m20.3s (!) after almost 140km of competitive action. The third man on tonight’s all-Michelin podium is Loeb’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen (+1m46.7s).

The snow that swept over much of France during the early part of the week made way for brighter, drier weather today as the 2013 World Rally Championship got under way with two loops of two stages.

Because of the resulting mixed conditions (clear asphalt, ice and snow), however, especially on the two visits to the awesome ‘Le Burzet’ test (SS2 and SS4), nearly all the front-runners (including Loeb!) were relieved to survive what turned out to be one of the most complex days in recent ‘Monte-Carlo’ history.

“There was less snow on Le Burzet than this morning but there were a number of places where you couldn’t tell whether the road was wet or icy. The damp patches appear to be refreezing but you couldn’t be sure,” reported the Frenchman at the end of SS4. “I lost grip in a few places, so I wasn’t completely confident. It’s good to have reached the finish…”

The veteran’s closest chaser tonight is his ex-Citroën team-mate, Sébastien Ogier, who has given Volkswagen an encouraging start to its first full WRC campaign. The Frenchman even led momentarily after SS1 before being passed by Loeb. VW will be pleased that he had a relatively trouble-free run, but Ogier himself spent much of the day repeating that he was concentrating on his own performance and not taking any notice of Loeb’s times…

Citroën’s new number one driver Mikko Hirvonen is third overall, but he rarely showed any real speed. “I really don’t know why,” he said at the end of the day. “I hate these conditions!”

For his first rally back in Citroën colours, Dani Sordo will be hoping for a strong points finish this week and his careful drive was rewarded by provisional fourth place (+2m01.7s), just behind Hirvonen.

Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala is fifth (+2m32.2s) in the second Volkswagen Polo R and would have been challenging for a footing on the podium had he not taken a 30-second penalty for late arrival at the start of SS2. As a result, he is closely chased by Ford/M-Sport’s best-placed representative, Evgeny Novikov (6th, +2m50.6s).

Tonight’s top 10 is rounded off by Citroën privateer Bryan Bouffier (7th) and Ford Fiesta WRC drivers Juho Hanninen (8th), Monte rookie Mads Ostberg (9th) and Martin Prokop (10th).

The day’s chief victim was Ford’s Thierry Neuville who crashed out on SS4, while Michal Kosciuszko’s first day of competition in a WRC car was poorly rewarded when his Mini picked up an engine problem. He is 21st. For information, the ‘Rally2’ ruling does not apply to the Rallye Monte-Carlo, so a driver who retires cannot re-join the next day.