Defending FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia have taken the lead of the opening event of the 2019 season in the Citroen C3 WRC after taking two stage wins on the first full day of Rally Monte Carlo.
Speaking following Friday’s action, Ogier said:
Obviously, I’m pleased to end the day leading the rally after another really difficult day, where there were some really significant changes in the conditions and the rhythm from one stage to the next. We perhaps didn’t have the ideal tyre set-up for this afternoon, but we nonetheless managed to cope with that. I’m driving with confidence in the C3 WRC and our strategy of taking an intelligent approach to the rally has paid dividends thus far, since we haven’t made any mistakes at all. I’m going to try and keep it up, especially as tomorrow’s leg looks set to be very tricky again, particularly on Saint Léger Les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve.
It was a disappointing day for Esapekke Lappi in the second C3 WRC as a minor mistake going into an apex resulted in him breaking a suspension wishbone. Speaking following the day’s action, he said:
Like several other crews, our tyre strategy was seriously compromised this morning when the first stage was cancelled as it had more or less dictated our choice of going with four studded tyres. Then at the start of the afternoon, I hit something hard on a corner, probably a rock. It immediately broke the suspension wishbone and we were unable to repair it. It’s obviously a shame but we’ll now look to use the rest of the rally to continue to get used to the C3 WRC. We might even try out a few set-up options that we wouldn’t have dared to attempt under normal circumstances.
Citroen Racing Team Principal Pierre Budar commented on Friday’s action by saying:
We are clearly delighted to reach service in Gap this evening in the overall lead after another tough day of racing, especially in terms of tyre choice. Sébastien and Julien used all of their experience and talent to produce a very controlled performance today, but there is still a long way to go, with plenty of major difficulties ahead. We’re disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, however, who had shown glimpses of real potential. Sadly, their minor mistake had major consequences, but the main thing is that they can rejoin tomorrow and add to their experience.
Ogier goes into day 3 of Rally Monte Carlo with a two second lead over Hyundai Motorsports Thierry Neuville.