The Mini WRC of Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio finished day one of the five-day Monte Carlo Rally second overall, a minute and four seconds off the pace of rally leader Sébastien Loeb in his Citroen.
Sordo was just a second off the pace of eight-time WRC champion Loeb after the day’s first stage, but an accident on stage two set him back. The other Mini, piloted by pay-to-play driver Pierre Campana and his teammate Sabrina de Castelli, finished the day in the eighth position. (Text continues after photo)
Snow and ice on the second stage of the rally forced the teams to decide how to use their two studded tires. Sordo put them on the left side of the car, while Campana elected to put them on the right. Both Loeb and Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala ran the studded tires diagonally. Loeb was on soft compound tires while Latvala was on super-softs. Latvala guessed right, winning the stage and moving into the lead.
Sordo made contact with a bridge on the second stage, damaging the left rear of the car, and then hit a snow bank as he tried to recover, damaging the right front. He only lost fifteen seconds on the stage, but the crew spent the thirty minute break between stages performing repairs. Campana spun on the stage, but, like Sordo, lost only fifteen seconds.
Stage four, the final stage of the day, was a rerun of stage two, but the weather was better. Loeb turned in a very fast time on the stage, while Latvala rolled his Ford, taking him out of the rally. Sordo finished third on the stage, leaving him second overall going into day two.
He said afterward, “This is a very special rally and today the conditions were really, really tricky. It was very easy to make a mistake in the snow with the slick tires. I made a small mistake on the second stage and broke the rear wheel. I lost a little bit of time, but am lucky I didn’t break a lot more things on the car. I keep being asked if I can challenge Sébastien Loeb for the win, but after the last stage I am not sure I can as his time was incredible. When I arrived at the end of the stage and saw his time I thought wow! Now I know why he is an eight times world champion.”
There are six stages on Thursday, with heavy snow in the forecast, so the rally is wide-open at this point. Autosport.com quotes Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson as saying, "This event is wide open still. We could have Petter [Solberg] winning, a Mini winning with Dani Sordo, Sébastien winning, anything. The weather is really coming in. It was due to come in on Friday, but we've heard it will be here tomorrow."—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News