Saturday | 24 Jan 2015

SS11: Loeb back in the groove

Dry asphalt is a rarity at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Sébastien Loeb made the most of those conditions to set fastest time through the first of Saturday afternoon’s two special stages.

Stage info: SS11

Prunieres – Embrun 1, 19.93km
Overlooking the Serre-Ponçon lake, the test rises to St-Apollinaire on fast and wide roads, before narrowing on the descent through several small hamlets and villages. The second part of the test is virtually all downhill on a mix of wide, flowing roads and tight, bumpy sections.

It was the first clean asphalt stage of the weekend and Loeb was quickest in Citroen’s DS 3 by 1.8sec from Robert Kubica, the Pole continuing to set superb times in his Ford Fiesta RS.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third in his Volkswagen Polo R, the Finn taking back another 2.1sec from team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who was fifth. The pair sandwiched Kris Meeke in fourth.

Dani Sordo was eighth in his Hyundai i20 but reported that the car’s steering column felt loose, while Ott Tänak was back in the fray after the M-Sport mechanics fitted a new clutch to the Estonian’s Fiesta RS in service. Tänak damaged it while trying to regain the road in the previous stage.

A pretty undramatic stage, but that could well change as competitors head to the classic Sisteron test. With 4km of ice and snow at the top of the Col de Fontbelle, drivers will bolt on their snow tyres and studded rubber in search of the best grip on an otherwise dry test.

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