Starting order, tyre selection and calculated risk are Friday’s talking points at the “Monte”
Ogier/Ingrassia, Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Fløene on course for podium finishes
A thriller that resulted in a success story: Volkswagen reached the half-way point of the Rally Monte Carlo in first, second and third. Day two of the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) was initially dominated by the duel between Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) in their Polo R WRC and Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC) in a Citroën. The Volkswagen duo had gradually reeled in and passed its rivals over the course of the first five of Friday’s six stages, before the battle for the lead was turned on its head as Loeb/Elena dropped massive amounts of time on the final special stage. The other Volkswagen duos, who had also driven intelligently to worked their way up the overall standings, also benefitted from the late drama: after 175.09 of 355.48 kilometres against the clock, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) find themselves in second place, followed by Andreas Mikkelsen/Andreas Fløene in third.
The WRC competitors were faced with extremely variable and difficult conditions. The road surface on the three special stages, each of which was tackled twice, alternated constantly between wet asphalt, snow and ice – all of which was exacerbated at times by thick fog. This all made the task of selecting from Michelin’s soft slicks, studded and winter tyres particularly difficult. In the morning, the three Volkswagen crews opted for a combination of four studded tyres and two winter tyres. In the afternoon, Ogier/Ingrassia headed out with four studded tyres and two slicks, while Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Fløene went for a mixture of two slicks, two studded, and two winter tyres.
Quotes after day two of the Rally Monte Carlo
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“My goal at the start of the rally was to finish in the top four – and nothing has changed in that regard. I have not had any particularly good results at the ‘Monte’ in the past, and I still have a lot to learn when it comes to the weather, tyre selection and the route. As such, I am happy with my position and what I learned today. Looking ahead to the championship, it is more important to score a lot of points here than to risk everything trying to win. If you compare the World Championship to the Rally Dakar, we only actually reach the finish at the end of the year. I do not intend to lose sight of our main goal.”