MOTORSPORT /// WRC /// 2013 RALLYE MONTE-CARLO (15.1.2013-20.1.2013) /// DAY 2 /// SS1-SS4…

2 0 1 3   R A L L Y E   M O N T E – C A R L O

[ 1 5   J A N U A R Y   2 0 1 3   -   2 0   J A N U A R Y   2 0 1 3 ]

The first (full) day of World Rally Championship action in 2013 appeared to be just another day at the office.  If you work in a freezer and like to fondle your tyres a lot.  In the life of an average human, this may sound, well, creepy.  But, in the world of rally, this is perfectly normal.  Especially on days such as this one, when Mother Nature sends the WRC her most confusing of conditions.  Which made choosing tyres and attack approaches for the first four stages of the season brainstorming sessions which could take on the brightest of super-secret global think tank meetings.

And, as usual, no one (really) came out on top in the tyre game.  All tyres and all tyre combinations suck in mixed conditions.  It all comes down to basic driver control of the lesser of evils (and a bit of luck – in the ever changing conditions of weather and road through a rally).  Which makes for one spectacular show of talent.

So, moving onto the clear winners of the day…

…Which were a bit unclear, due to a breakdown in official timing technology (during Stage 3).  An issue caused by a conspiracy designed by Ford WRT, who had taken accurate timing with them (when they exited the WRC) just to (specifically) annoy German manufacturer Volkswagen.  An issue which could have been fixed, had anyone bothered to take the team seriously when they ran off, laughing and screaming, “AND WE’RE TAKING ACCURATE TIMING WITH US!!!”.  Talk about exciting!  As if the road conditions had not presented enough of a logistical challenge, a timing meltdown left teams (completely) in the dark as they headed into Stage Four.  In a freakish shock of a twist, drivers and co-drivers were sent out to…wait for it…do their best.  GASP!  Unbelievable.  And, the result was even more horrifying.  The world continued to turn as car after car crossed the finish line and times were sorted out by the end of the day.  The day, which consisted of four stages.  Oh, the horror!!!

After surviving the terrifying lapse in timekeeping, the brave teams of the WRC were in for yet another surprise.  And, you may just want to sit down for this one.  The first day of competition was…the day of the Sebs.  Yes.  Though it was clear enough to be seen from a glorified space-bound Red Bullshit balloon, the numbers provided throughout the day confirmed that the battle for ‘Most Sébastien’ was on.  And, it was Sébastien Ogier (FRA/Julien Ingrassia-FRA/Volkswagen Motorsport) who made the first move, blasting through Stage One to take the first lead of the 2013 season.  Yes, the guy who spent 2012 behind the wheel of an S2000, just to keep a foot in the door whilst developing the Polo R WRC with Volkswagen, was back in the seat of a WRC car and back where he left off: as a force to be reckoned with.  But, not for long.  As reigning force of all that is natural and unnatural, Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Daniel Elena-MCO/Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT) was right on his tail and ready to pounce.  And, pounce, he did, taking the remaining stages of the day and taking the honour of leading the first leg of the season, with Ogier right behind him (in second, overall).  However, despite nabbing the top position on the scoreboard, it was Ogier who took the lead in ‘Most French Driver’, when he dropped one, simple comment (to WRC.com, after SS3):

“I don’t care about Loeb’s times!”

Now, that’s the spirit!

While the Sebs may have hoarded the spotlight, there was quite a bit of action going on just beyond the limelight.  And, that action was thanks in part to a gross misunderstanding of stud preservation.  Though the reality of the situation lied in the amount of metal studs remaining on tyres after running harsh mixed routes, it appears that drivers were anxious to prove just who was the biggest stud behind the wheel.  Well, okay.  We can roll with that.  Yeah!  Finns Jerry Matt Latvala (FIN/Miikka “Minni’s Dad” Anttila-FIN/Volkswagen Motorsport) and Mike Hirvonen (FIN/Jim Lehtinen-FIN/Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT) took turns trailing Loeb in stages three and four (respectively), while Juho Hänninen (FIN/Tomi Tuominen-FIN/Qatar WRT), Dani Sordo (ESP/Carlos del Barrio-ESP/Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT), and Mads Østberg (NOR/Jonas Andersson-SWE/Qatar M-Sport WRT) all took turns in third in stages two, three, and four (also respectively).  As the day drew to a close, it was Hirvonen who took the lead in the battle for ‘Most Studly Non-Seb’.  Quite a feat for a five-year-old boy who needs the assistance of his babysitter to put a winter hat on (before going out to play).

Speaking of hats, with so many battles waging through Rallye Monte-Carlo, one might think that there could not possibly be room for any more fighting.  But, they would be wrong.  Because, as the action of the day unfolded, so did another battle.  For ‘Most Awesomely Silly Hat on a Finn’.  And what a clash it was, with two tall, blonde Finns, going puff to puff, pushing the limits of cosy knitwear.  Who came out ahead?  This one appears to be stuck in a tie.  A fluffy, yarn tie between Latvala and Lehtinen.  Though the word ‘epic’ has become an abused four-letter monstrosity, we firmly believe that it is the term closest to appropriate when describing the snuggly war being waged between these two and their awesomely silly hats.

(capito, latvala: str-hat-egising / 2013 rallye monte-carlo / courtesy of jari-matti latvala official fanclub on facebook, ferdi kräling motorsport-bild gmbh)
(capito, latvala: str-hat-egising / 2013 rallye monte-carlo / courtesy of jari-matti latvala official fanclub on facebook, ferdi kräling motorsport-bild gmbh)
(lehtinen, mazenq: engineering more toque / 2013 rallye monte-carlo / courtesy of mikko hirvonen official fanclub on facebook)
(lehtinen, mazenq: engineering more toque / 2013 rallye monte-carlo / courtesy of mikko hirvonen official fanclub on facebook)

Beautiful.  Just beautiful.  (We refer to braided tassels on winter hats as “come-hither tassels”, though.)

In other class-specific news, Thierry Neuville (BEL/Nicolas Gilsoul-BEL/Qatar WRT) took the lead in ‘Most Retired with Three Wheels’ (in SS4 – and we are positive the fact that the timing system failed and that Neuville has an Ice Watch sponsorship are pure coincidence), Evgeny Novikov (RUS/Ilka Minor-AUT/Qatar M-Sport) remains in the lead for ‘Most Russian’, Minor continues to dominate ‘Most Ilka Minor’, Elena is (still) in charge of ‘Most Monégasque’, and so on, with most standings remaining static from Shakedown.  Hänninen and Tuominen took the lead in the ‘Finnish Battle to Resist Amazing Parking Spots’, after Latvala and Anttila received a 30-second road penalty for remaining parked too long, attempting to make some not-so-quick adjustments, between the first and second stages.  You just could not resist, could you, Jerry Matt?

Who will pull ahead and win these critical races?  Well, we will just have to wait and see.

. . . . . . .

DAY 2 RESULTS BY STAGE

(from wrc.com)

SS1 /// LE MOULINON-ANTRAIGUES 1 /// 37.10KM

Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) – Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Dani Sordo (ESP) / Carlos del Barrio (ESP) – Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT

Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

SS2 /// BURZET-ST MARTIAL 1 /// 30.60KM

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) – Volkswagen Motorsport

Juho Hänninen (FIN) / Tomi Tuominen (FIN) – Qatar WRT

Dani Sordo (ESP) / Carlos del Barrio (ESP) – Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT

SS3 /// LE MOULINON-ANTRAIGUES 2 /// 37.10KM

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Miikka Anttila (FIN) – Volkswagen Motorsport

Dani Sordo (ESP) / Carlos del Barrio (ESP) – Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT

Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

SS4 /// BURZET-ST MARTIAL 2 /// 30.60KM

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Mads Østberg (NOR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE) – Qatar M-Sport

Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) – Volkswagen Motorsport

DAY 2 STANDINGS (OVERALL)

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) – Volkswagen Motorsport

Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) – Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT

Dani Sordo (ESP) / Carlos del Barrio (ESP) – Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT

. . . . . . .

For more information on the 2013 Rallye Monte-Carlo (15.1.2013-20.1.2013):

rallye monte-carlo official site / rallye monte-carlo on wrc.com

-hitchcockblonde

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