Rallye Monte-Carlo has come and gone – and there are no shortage of talking points to consider following an event that offered enthralling action down to the final corner. In the first of our two-part debrief, we focus the spotlight on the moments that mattered.
One To Forget
Many believed Kris Meeke’s Citroën squad was the best prepared of all, with some bookmakers listing him as title favourite.
Things looked good when he slotted into second on Friday morning’s opening stage. But on the next one, the Ulsterman skidded on ice, hammered a bank and his C3 was sidelined with broken suspension. Day over.
He returned on Saturday but mechanical problems halted him for almost half an hour. A dismal weekend came to abrupt end that evening when a collision with a non-competing car on a liaison section outside Gap wrecked his rear suspension.
You’ll Never Believe It
Thirty minutes before Wednesday afternoon’s shakedown started, Toyota Gazoo Racing mechanics were still building the gearbox on Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris!
We made it! It is official now! My first podium from Monte! Overall not a bad start for the season :) #RallyeMonteCarlo pic.twitter.com/gcdxf1J7sq— Ott Tänak (@OttTanak) 22 January 2017
Save of the Rally
No debate here – Ott Tänak’s efforts to bring his ailing Ford Fiesta home on the podium were magnificent.
His engine dropped a cylinder early on Sunday morning and second place became third as he limped through the stages. Nobody gave him a chance of retaining third as Dani Sordo was poised to pounce on the second pass over the famous Col de Turini.
The Estonian had 46.6sec in hand at the start, but at the Turini summit the Spaniard had regained 41.0sec.
Tänak threw caution to the wind in the final 6km. On treacherously snowy roads, he hurled the ill Fiesta downhill with pure aggression. Totally sideways through the final corner, he broke the timing beam just 8.6sec slower than Sordo and the final podium place was his.
Thierry Neuville (below) led from the start and with a lead of a minute, his mindset was in management mode. No risks, safe tyre choices, hand a few seconds back to the pursuing Sébastien Ogier where necessary.
Then it happened. His Hyundai i20 Coupe slid wide midway through Saturday’s final 25.49km test from Bayons to Bréziers, one he had already driven in the dark two days previously. The rear left hit a bank and the suspension broke. Lead gone and the Belgian’s Monte dream in pieces.