january 26, 2018 - Msport

Ogier leads Rallye Monte-Carlo

M-Sport #ford World #rally Team’s #sebastienogier and Julien Ingrassia lead Rallye Monte-Carlo with a 17.3 second advantage aboard their EcoBoost-powered #ford #fiestawrc.

As five-time winners of the prestigious event, the pairing knows exactly what it takes to master the notoriously challenging conditions. This year’s fixture threw up an immensely challenging opener – Sisteron, in reverse, in the dark – but Ogier and Ingrassia did not falter.

Whereas a number of their rivals lost time on a particularly icy downhill section, the French pairing suffered just a single spin – claiming the stage win as well as the fastest time through the following speed test.

Currently holding eighth place overall, Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri made an impressive debut behind the wheel of the #fiestawrc in less than ideal circumstances.

Having sustained an injury during the recce, Bouffier’s original co-driver, Jérôme Degout, was forced to withdraw and Panseri – fresh from Dakar – was drafted in at the very last moment.

With just a few precious hours to prepare together, the pairing didn’t put a foot wrong and will be keen to learn more about the latest generation Fiesta as the event continues.

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were less fortunate however. The Brits’ first split was right on the pace, but they picked up a puncture on the opening speed test and were forced to stop and change it just over 10 kilometres into the stage.

They may have lost three minutes to the leading pack, but there remains a long way to go on an event where anything can happen.

Elsewhere in the #wrc 2 category, the Fiesta also leads the way – with Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas holding a 19.1 second lead behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Fiesta R5.

Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:

“We knew it would be tough to cross the icy section with slick tyres and we actually had a spin there. I think almost everyone had a moment in there, but luckily we didn’t lose too much time. The rest of the stage was also very tricky with the grip changing all the time and it was challenging to know where you could and couldn’t push.

“I was happy with the car and in these conditions and you need to be comfortable or you don’t have any chance to be fast. There are still some small things here and there that we can do to improve, but I’m happy and it’s a good start.”

Bryan Bouffier (8th) said:

“It’s been a really tricky start to the #rally but the car is amazing and a lot of fun to drive. I had a lot of flat-out sections in my pacenotes which are not flat-out in this car but we’re getting there. I tried to drive a bit better in the second stage and there is still a very long way to go in this #rally.

“You have to be clean here and it’s so easy to run wide with this much power. But we’ll keep at it, keep learning, keep and enjoying and see where we are at the end.”

Elfyn Evans (10th #wrc / 16th overall) said:

“We had an impact on the front-right in a cut. It was one that I had recced but in the dark it’s almost impossible to see. I don’t know if I cut a bit more or a bit less then I had done on the recce, but there was an impact and the tyre went down about 10 kilometres into the stage.

“We had no choice but to stop and change it and in the dark it’s very difficult to get the job done quickly. We were back in the car just as Dani [Sardo] went passed so a lot of time lost there. And fitting a brand-new, cold, slick tyre just as the icy section was starting wasn’t ideal either.

“It’s not been the best of starts, but there is a long way to go and we’ve got to keep at it.”

Eric Camilli (1st #wrc 2 / 10th overall) said:

“It has been a very good start for us. The first stage was really complicated and it was hard to accept that you had to go very, very slowly on the downhill section. But we pushed hard at the beginning and set a really good time. It’s been a good start and the car feels great, but there is still a long way to go.”