Saturday | 24 Jan 2015

Lefebvre pulls clear in WRC 2 battle

Stéphane Lefebvre ended Saturday’s penultimate leg of Rallye Monte-Carlo with a clear advantage in WRC 2 after closest challenger Martin Koci suffered mechanical heartbreak in the final speed test.

The duo, embarking on their first year in the WRC’s main support category after competing in the Junior WRC last year, fought tooth and nail through the first three days of this opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The two youngsters were separated by only 6.5sec as they started today’s leg in the mountains near Gap. The margin widened to 11.4sec as Koci emerged from the penultimate stage with driveshaft problems in his Ford Fiesta R5.

Despite frantically trying to make repairs, the Slovakian tackled the final Sisteron stage with only rear-wheel drive and lost more than three minutes to his DS 3 R5 rival.

“All the oil leaked out and we had only rear-wheel drive for the final stage, which was very difficult on the ice and snow at the top of the mountain,” said Koci.

Lefebvre arrived at the overnight halt in Monaco with a 2min 58.8sec lead over Armin Kremer’s Skoda Fabia S2000, with Koci a further 20.7sec behind in third.

Tomorrow promises a fierce battle for the final podium place between Koci, Eric Camilli and Craig Breen.

Camilli is just 1.0sec behind Koci, despite gearbox and brake issues in SS11. Breen is 0.4sec further back and feeling more confident after reverting to last year’s set-up on his Peugeot 208.

Jonathan Hirschi completed the top six, while Quentin Giordano lost time after spinning and stalling the engine of his DS 3 R5 in the final stage. 

Julien Maurin retired from fourth after going off the road in SS10 and Hendrik Lategan exited sixth with mechanical issues in the same test.

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