It was the perfect start to the 2015 season for Finland’s Max Vatanen as he took victory in the R2 category on the Rallye Monte Carlo in his Ford Fiesta R2. Vatanen, who was co – driven by Jacques-Julien Renucci, crossed the finish line just over a minute ahead of Cédric Althaus.
The result certainly did not come easy to the Finish driver as he had to attack the rally whilst trying to recover from a fever which struck before the event. Vatanen also had to contend with the treacherous conditions that faced the crews over the 15 stages which saw heavy snowfall and black ice in many sections of the course.
The event started with drama for the Fiesta driver as he was held up by a competitor blocking SS1 for almost a minute but it was the only blip in an otherwise dominating performance. Vatanen took the lead on SS2 and started to open the gap to the rest of the class. By the end of Day 2 he led the R2 field by almost four minutes and from there it was a case of getting the car to the finish.
“This has been the best possible way to start the season,” said the 24-year-old “It was one of the toughest rallies I have ever driven, but also one of the most satisfying. The first two days in particularly were really challenging, with grip that was changing all the time.
“The second two days were more consistent, but I wanted to manage my advantage and be sure of finishing, which is why I backed off and dropped the time. But that was a big challenge in itself too, as when you slow down you lose the rhythm.”
Vatanen is planning to contest the Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta Trophy this year, a championship in which he already has experience in having finished as top rookie in last year’s series.