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motorsport-news.co.uk JANUARY 25 2012 3
despite disaster on opening round
Photos: LAT and mcklein-imagedatabase.com
ON BACK FOOT MONTE CRASH
POINTS FIAWorld Rally Championship After 1/13 rounds
1 Sébastien Loeb 28pts 2 Dani Sordo 18 3 Petter Solberg 15 4 Mikko Hirvonen 14 5 Evgeny Novikov 11 6 François Delecour 8
rally relocated from Valence to Monaco. OnSunday, there was only the 3.1-mile Power Stage.
Loeb said: “It’s not important to do long rallies – here we have five days. It’s important to make a good show on the television andmaybe with some live television, like we saw with IRC.”
New boys show pace Rally Monte Carlo was also the first opportunity for Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen to try their new cars in competition, after their moves to Ford and Citroën respectively for the 2012 season.
Solberg especially impressed with third overall, his first-ever podium on the Monte, and dominated Saturday’s loops over the classic Col du Turini and Lantosque tests with three stage victories out of four. However, he was fortunate to escape a time penalty for speeding on a road section on Saturday evening as hemade his way back to service in Monaco. The 37-year-old received a suspended ban,
stage three with tests Lantosque to fortunate was he However,
on section road a on speeding made he as evening Saturday
Hirvonen:Quick in a DS3
DS3 a in Quick Hirvonen:
Latvala says his pace can overhaul the points deficit which will mean disqualification from the results of Rally Sweden if he commits another serious speeding infringement in his next six rallies.
TheNorwegian was surprised that he was able to get on the pace so quickly: “I’m much faster than I expected. I had one day of testing before the rally and one day last year, so I didn’t expect to just jump in and be fighting with Sordo and be very close to Loeb onmany stages. The pace on the first day was unbelievable and I surprised myself. It’s just up to me to get somemore kilometres in the car and then wewill see.”
Ford boss Malcolm Wilson was also very impressed, and said that Solberg could shake off his designated number two status and start a bid for the driver’s title if he continues his progress with the Fiesta WRC.
he if title driver’s the for bid a start the with progress his continues
“What we’ve seen is the the is seen we’ve “What
Loe b (r) took all the av ailab le points in the WRC opener experience he’s got,” Wilson told MN. “It’s things where you can’t be specific but where experience can be put into effect. It’s a great result for him, it’s his best result on the Monte, and Saturday’s pace goes to show what’s still possible for him.
the with deal us let and driving the that’s and set-up, the and stuff other
“We told him to concentrate on the driving and let us deal with the other stuff and the set-up, and that’s what he’s done. You never know what could happen. If he can continue to do performances like that then he’s going to be in a strong position.”
know never You done. he’s what can he If happen. could what performances do to continue a in be to going he’s then that like position.” strong
Hirvonen, meanwhile, finished finished meanwhile, Hirvonen,
fourth after one of his most most his of one after fourth on showings competitive competitive showings on asphalt for some time. He would have been in the
He time. some for asphalt the in been have would fight for a podium finish had he not suffered a broken brake disc on the second day of the rally, but recovered by setting three fastest stage times in aDS3WRCthat he says suits his asphalt driving style.
“I felt last year I was struggling with the Fiesta, even in dry conditions, but with the Citroën it feels really easy, so that’s good news,” said the 31-year-old Finn. “I’ve also learnt a lot this week about where to improve. This car is completely different and you can be very nice and smooth with it – it doesn’t even feel like you’re pushing it so hard. The times are coming, so I feel happy with it. It’s back towards myold driving style on Tarmac [before last year].”
Todt says new format was correct
FIA president Jean Todt defended the endurance nature of Rally Monte Carlo after some parties criticised its drawn-out five-day format.
The Wednesday-toSunday format was encouraged by the FIA, which wants events to break the mould and run varying itineraries, but caused extra costs to competitors taking part.
It drove away a number of would-be crews, especially in the Super 2000 WRC and Production WRC, which each attracted just three entries.
Todt said that the sense of adventure that the Monte’s return was bringing back into world championship rallying was a worthy cause of changes that received a mixed response.
“We are not in a world where everybody is happy,” said Todt. “In the rally world, we have a more democratic world and I’m sure a lot of people are fans of rallying and are keen to see a positive and constructive evolution of the sport.
“Unfortunately, you will not be able to make everybody happy. But what we can give to rallying is the proper roads, adventure, reliability and what is absolutely crucial is that costs are contained.
“Motor racing costs too much and it’s something we need to address. When you talk about changing things, you must make sure it’s positive for the show and that it is positive in the good way in terms of the cost.”
FIA PLEDGES PATIENCE OVER NEW PROMOTER ON PAGE 14
FIA PLEDGES PATIENCE OVER NEW PROMOTER ON PAGE 14