Citroën Racing :
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Hats off to Craig for having got the car back in one piece this evening despite opening the road today, which meant he had to cope with very low-grip conditions for most of the leg. Especially as he finished the day in style on SS13. Meanwhile, Kris held his position well until Lappi picked up a puncture, which then put him into a fight for fourth place. Our target, however, is above all that he scores big points tomorrow and that he keeps growing in confidence behind the wheel.”
“On the first pass this morning, the grip was bound to improve as time went by, but on the second loop, there were two narrow lines of tarmac visible. Of course, when you’re driving at close to 170kph, you absolutely cannot afford to step out of the lines, or else you’re off. I don’t know if we’ll be able to fight for fourth place, but getting to the end in fifth position would be a good start to the season in itself, given our misfortune on Thursday evening.”
“The first two loops proved to be very difficult for us, due to our road position. But I’m pleased to have shown our pace on the day’s final stage, which was drier, and I hope the conditions are like this tomorrow.”
Hyundai Motorsport :
After issues for Thierry and Nicolas on Thursday, and on Friday for Andreas and Anders, it was our Spaniards Dani and Carlos who were struck with misfortune on the penultimate day.
While defending their top-three position, our #6 crew ran into trouble on the slippery opening stage, SS9. “I am really disappointed,” said a dejected Dani. “We didn’t push too much but we suddenly lost grip at the front and went off. With no Rally 2, that was our Monte-Carlo over.”
Stage wins and struggles
Contrasting fortunes for Andreas and Anders in SS9 saw them take the fastest time but the day wasn’t without its issues.
“It was proper Monte conditions out there early on,” said Andreas. “We had a spin in a straight line, and still came away with the stage win. The afternoon was much the same. Our eyes are firmly on the Power Stage.”
Thierry and Nicolas continued to mount a recovery charge. As second on the road, it was not an easy task but they persevered to move up to seventh overall, taking stage wins in SS12 and SS13.
“It has been really tricky at times,” reflected Thierry. “In the first loop, we were really struggling everywhere, particularly as second on the road. The second loop was also changeable. My aim is to keep up a good rhythm and pace, and do all we can to try and gain another position or two.”
Saturday night takeaways
At the end of Saturday’s schedule, our Team Principal Michel Nandan summarised: “The conditions today offered excitement for the spectators but it was a bad day for us. Despite picking up three stage wins we are out of contention for the results we want to be chasing, and know we can achieve.”
We will now prepare for the final day of a frustrating rally with four stages left to contest. Our two remaining crews will attack a repeat loop of two stages including two climbs up to the legendary Col de Turini, and a final chance for drivers’ championship points in the Power Stage.
Toyota Gazoo :
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“In short, it has been a very good day. All the drivers did a really good job in extremely difficult conditions in the morning. Even though Esapekka had a puncture and lost a lot of time, he still managed to fight back to fourth place and I think that’s a really good sign that he can keep calm in these situations. Ott of course has been very quick again, and Jari-Matti is also driving well. Tomorrow I think the only question mark will be the weather but of course the rally isn’t over until the final time control.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Today has been typical Rallye Monte-Carlo weather: it has been like having all the seasons in one day, with rain and snow this morning while this afternoon it was sunny and with dry roads. I’m happy to be where we are: I said before the race a top-three would be perfect. I can’t really go forward and there’s a pretty big gap behind me, so now I’m just focusing on my own driving. My target in this event has been to avoid taking big risks and to see the finish: this is very important.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It has been another very strong day from our side, from the team’s side and I’m very much enjoying driving this car. It was a bit of a shame about the first stage in the snow – we lost a lot of time there – but after that it went really well again. I’m just trying to maintain my own pace, to feel comfortable and to be clever and stay on the road. For sure I will not risk my position. For the first rally it would be very nice to finish like this. It’s looking very good for the team. Already before the season we knew that we had good drivers and it’s clear that the car is competitive.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“It’s a shame that I lost a lot time today, but we are still in fourth. On a fairly slow left-hand corner, there was a lot of slushy snow and I just slid wide, hit a bank and the rear tyre came off from the wheel. It had been a clean run for us up until that moment, and plenty of other drivers had already made mistakes before that. It will be tough to try and keep fourth but tomorrow should suit me if it stays dry. On the last stage today the car felt really good and I have always been good when the grip is consistent and I know where the limit is.”
M-Sport Ford :
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“We started less than 15 seconds in front of Ott [Tänak] and now we have an advantage of 33 seconds so I am happy with that.
“We had a really good first stage in extremely challenging conditions where we managed to take a lot of time. It was a bit trickier after that, but it’s never easy to manage the gap when the conditions are this difficult. It’s not my style to take unnecessary risks so maybe I was a bit too careful, but it’s been a good day overall.
“We still have 64 kilometres to go and I know Ott will give it everything until the end so we cannot afford to relax, and will need to stay focused with good pace in the morning.”
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
Bryan Bouffier (8th) said:
“This has been a typical day at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a lot of different and challenging conditions. It’s what makes this rally so enjoyable, and it has been a lot of fun.
“At times it can be difficult to adapt the pace to the slippery sections and those with more grip, but it’s been a good day and I am quite happy.”
Source WRC Teams