Monte Carlo Rally: Sebastien Loeb still leads amid Turini carnage
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, January 19th 2013, 17:23 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb maintained his Monte Carlo Rally lead into the final evening as tricky conditions on the Col de Turini caught out several frontrunners.
Both Citroen driver Loeb and second-placed Volkswagen man Sebastien Ogier made it safely through the Moulinet stage, where the combination of ice and wet snow left everyone struggling desperately for grip.
Several frontrunners suggested it was the toughest Monte Carlo stage they had ever encountered.
Inevitably not everyone made it through intact. Qatar M-Sport was worst affected, with two of its remaining cars crashing and the third severely delayed.
Evgeny Novikov damaged his Ford early on Moulinet and tried to struggle on with three functioning wheels, but had to retire. The Russian had been fending off Citroen's Dani Sordo for third until that point.
Juho Hanninen's impressive rally came to an end on the same stage, leaving Mads Ostberg as the team's sole runner.
But the Norwegian made a mistake on the re-run of the stage a few hours later, making it to the finish with suspension damage but losing six minutes.
VW lost a car too, as Jari-Matti Latvala slid off the road and out of sixth.
Bryan Bouffier was fastest on the first run of Moulinet by a commanding half-minute margin, giving the 2011 Monte victor his first ever World Rally Championship stage win. He runs fifth following the retirements ahead, followed by the delayed Ostberg.
The rally concludes with two stages after dark on Saturday evening.
Leading positions after SS16: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 5h18m57.2s 2. Sebastien Ogier VW + 1m39.9s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 3m49.0s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 5m26.3s 5. Bryan Bouffier PH Citroen + 8m13.1s 6. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport Ford + 12m03.7s 7. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 23m27.3s 8. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Deutschland + 29m34.5s 9. Olivier Burri Offshore Peugeot + 35m38.4s 10. Michal Kosciuszko Italia Mini + 36m28.0s