Reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier says the opening stages of the 2016 Rallye Monte Carlo, round one of the FIA World Rally Championship will be more revealing as to the overall pace than today’s shakedown stage. The Volkswagen Motorsport driver set second fastest time of the 3.35 km test but deteriorating conditions meant that most of the top crews set their fastest times on their first run. Despite this the Frenchman is still happy with the performance of his Polo WRC and is looking forward to the start of the event.
“On the whole, the Shakedown went very well for Julien and me.”, said Ogier “The Polo feels perfect, but it is obviously difficult to make any sort of prediction. Conditions out on the route varied too much for that. I am now really looking forward to the start in Monaco tomorrow. The opening stages will then show where we stand compared to the opposition.”
Jari Matti Latvala also struggled through the conditions finishing sixth but the Finnish driver is still happy with how the day went. The Finn finished second here last year and will be looking to take the top step on the podium in Monte Carlo for the first time this weekend.
“Today’s Shakedown was not particularly significant from a sporting point of view.” , said Latvala, “When it comes to getting a feel for the tricky conditions just before the start of the ‘Monte’, however, it was worth its weight in gold. We would obviously like to start the new rally year something as well as we did last season. However, our opposition is looking strong and the rally itself is a huge challenge.”
Andreas Mikkelsen comes to Monte Carlo with a new co-driver and the Norwegian feels that concentrating on getting used to the partnership was the only meaningful thing they were able to take out of today.
“It was difficult to try anything out on the Shakedown today.” said the VW driver, “As well as the World Rally Cars, the R5s were also in action at the same time. Everyone cut the corners a little, and scattered dirt on the road in the process. As such, we struggled to set a great time from our position. Nevertheless: it was the first stage under competitive conditions with my new co-driver Anders Jæger – and everything ran smoothly between us. In this respect, we have already found our rhythm.”
The event officially gets underway tomorrow with two stages run in the dark as they travel from Monaco to Gap tackling a total of 41 competitive km along the way.