Max Vatanen put in an impressive performance at the 2016 Rallye Monte-Carlo as he took his privately entered Ford Fiesta R2 to fourth place in the highly competive RC4 class.
With Vatanen competing a full season in the British Rally Championship this year, he used the event as a warm up for the new season in his own car he calls Olga.
“It’s true that my car – Olga, as I call her – is getting a little bit old now, and I certainly noticed that over the weekend!” said Vatanen who was competining against more modern machinery in his class. “We were very close to the maximum limit of kilometres for the engine in Monte as well, so I was a bit worried that we would have a problem. Thankfully though, everything went fine and I enjoyed the rally a lot. But the pace of the newer cars was very quick: impossible for us to live with really.”
The son of former WRC champion Ari Vatanen put in a solid performance which saw a highlight of the weekend on SS10, a 17.13km stage where he put in the sixteenth fastest time overall, out pacing two factory-backed WRC cars.
“That was definitely my best stage!” said Vatanen. “I really liked it but at the same time it felt a little bit frustrating because if we had seen a few more stages like that, I think we could have achieved a really meaningful result. Instead though, it was mostly a dry Monte this year, although it is always a tough event no matter what the weather does.”
Vatanen used the experience to get more seat time ahead of his competive debut with a four-wheel drive Ford Fiesta R5 at the Mid Wales Stages on March 5/6.
“In that respect, it went really well, As usual, Jacques-Julien did a great job on the notes and I’d like to thank all our partners who made this latest adventure possible. It was really useful to have some more time in the car and I feel ready to start our season for real now. This year is going to be one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced but of course I am looking forward to it.”