Evgeny Novikov posted the quickest time during shakedown for the opening round of the new World Rally Championship season in Monte Carlo.
The M-Sport Ford driver posted a time of 2min 13.0secs to edge out the MINI John Cooper Works of Armindo Araujo, with defending champion Sebastien Loeb third fastest through the 3.58km test to the south of Valence.
Although his mandatory four runs through the stage passed without issue, Loeb admitted that the weather in the region was cause of concern ahead of the season opener.
“I am a little apprehensive about this rally, even though I have won it five times before,” he said. “Obviously, it's the weather that complicates matters. We were under the impression that this year's rally would be dry but snow fell before the final day of reconnaissance, which caught everyone by surprise. The work of the early starters will be essential for choosing the right tyres. At Monte-Carlo, there's always a degree of compromise involved in tyre choice and I think that makes the rally pretty exciting!”
Petter Solberg was fourth ahead of his first outing for Ford in the Fiesta WRC, while team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was sixth; the pair split on the shakedown standings by Citroen's Thierry Neuville.
Mikko Hirvonen was seventh fastest in the second of the factory Citroens, with the Finn agreeing with his team-mate Loeb that the weather was likely to have a major impact on the weekend – especially given there will be no second chances thanks to the fact that Superally isn't being used.
read more: crash.net/wrc monte shakedown
Monte Carlo Rally shakedown times (Top 10):
1. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 13.0secs
2. Armindo Araujo Armindo Araujo MINI John Cooper Works 2min 13.2secs
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT Citroen DS3 WRC 2min 13.5secs
4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 13.6secs
5. Thierry Neuville PH Sport Citroen DS3 WRC 2min 14.0secs
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 14.0secs
7. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT Citroen DS3 WRC 2min 14.7secs
8. Dani Sordo MINI WRT MINI John Cooper Works 2min 14.9secs
9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 2min 15.5secs
10. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 2min 17.0secs
All times unofficial
Listen on: worldrallyradio.com/
also dunno if i can find the stage times as wrc.com seems "defunct" now but hey i guess we'll play it as we see the news