Loebs leads WRC field as Castrol-backed VW Motorsport impresses on Day 1

Thursday 17th January, 2013


Author: Justin Murray ©

Ogier kicked off VWs WRC campaign in the best way possible by securing the fastest time on the opening stage for 2013

Ogier kicked off VWs WRC campaign in the best way possible by securing the fastest time on the opening stage for 2013

While Sebastien Loeb leads the first round of the 2013 World Rally Championship season, all eyes were on Castrol EDGE-backed Volkswagen Motosports driver Sebastien Ogier on the opening day of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Ogier created history for the all-new Volkswagen Polo WRC with victory on the very first stage of it’s WRC campaign. The young Frenchman currently lies second to Loeb with plenty of rally action remaining over the next two days.

“A good start to the ‘Monte’, and one I am more than happy with,” said Oiger.

“The Polo R WRC feels good and I am obviously pleased with my special stage win this morning. I just drove my own rhythm without really pushing too hard, and was really surprised when I looked at the times.”

It was an up and down day for Citroen leader Mikko Hirvonen who was as low as sixth before jumping to third by the end of the day.

Dani Sordo (Citroen) lies fourth with the second Castrol EDGE-backed VW of Jari-Matti Latvala in fifth after the Finn picked up a front right puncture five kilometres from the finish of the final stage of the day.

The best of the Castrol-backed M-Sport Fords is Russian Evgeny Novikov in sixth. However, it was a far tougher day Thierry Neuville, Mads Ostberg and Juho Hanninen. Neuville is out of the event after clipping a rock and breaking the front-left suspension on his Fiesta. No re-entry rule exists on the Monte, so the Belgian is on his way home.

“This afternoon was quite difficult with the combination tyres,” said Novikov. “The grip is changing all the time which makes it difficult to know when you can and can’t push to the maximum. This is a long and difficult rally and the most important thing is to stay on the road to gain as much experience as possible.”

If the difficult stages weren’t tough enough for Ostberg, his car stopped on the liaison section after the final stage with an electrical sensor problem. Team engineers provided advice on the telephone as Ostberg worked to solve the problem but he eventually checked in 11 minutes late, and is likely to receive a 1:50 time penalty.

Hanninen spun near the end of the final stage and lost plenty of time finding an area on the narrow road to turn around.

Crews were left frustrated during the day with issues with the live timing. Inside the cars no one had split timing, while service crews had no idea the positions in the event. At one stage the system showed that Loeb had stopped on one of the stage, but he had no issues.

The second leg has six timed stages totalling 132.5km.

Here are the highlights of the opening Leg

Rallye Monte-Carlo : Leg 1

Position Driver             Team/Car            Time
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1:39:49.0
2. Sebastien Ogier VW +1:20.3
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen +1:46.7
4. Dani Sordo Citroen +2:01.2
5. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +2:32.2
6. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport Ford +2:50.6
7. Bryan Bouffier PH Citroen +2:57.1
8. Juho Hanninen Qatar M-Sport Ford +3:03.5
9. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport Ford +4:45.1
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +7:11.0

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