Is Bouffier Monte dark horse?

Bryan Bouffier has called on the help of five-time world champion Sébastien Ogier as he plots a major upset at this week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January).

The 39-year-old Frenchman prepared for his first event in a new-generation World Rally Car by sitting alongside his M-Sport Ford World Rally Team colleague during testing last week. He then took the wheel himself for a day’s acclimatisation to the Fiesta.

Bouffier’s extensive Monte-Carlo experience and understanding of the changeable conditions in the French Alps has prompted some to tip him as a potential winner in his first of two outings with the British team.

He won in 2011 when the rally was an Intercontinental Rally Challenge round and came close to a maiden WRC success three years later. He led for much of the event in a Fiesta before a time-consuming spin meant Ogier relegated him to second.

“I have a lot of experience at Rallye Monte-Carlo which helps when it comes to reading the road and adapting the pace to suit the conditions, but this event is never easy,” said Bouffier.

“It’s one of the toughest events on the calendar and to do well you need to drive a clever rally by making the right calls on the tyres and finding the right balance between pushing hard and being more cautious.”

Bouffier, who will also drive a Fiesta at the Tour de Corse (5 - 9 April), remains cautious about his chances on the wintery asphalt.

“First and foremost, we want to have fun. We’ll start in a relaxed frame of mind and if we could help the team by scoring some good points for the manufacturers’ championship it would be amazing.

“It’s one of my favourite events and having the opportunity to do it in one of these new- generation World Rally Cars – the championship-winning car – is a dream come true,” he added.

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