WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Sebastien Ogier leads shakedown
|By David Evans||Wednesday, January 15th 2014, 13:39 GMT|
Sebastien Ogier started this year's World Rally Championship in the same way he ended 2013 by going quickest at the Monte Carlo Rally shakedown.
The reigning world champion led the way in the French Alps stage, taking 1.2 seconds off his nearest rivals, Citroen pair Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg.
The drivers enjoyed clear conditions on the 2.18-mile Chateauvieux stage near Gap, but grip levels deteriorated quickly as crews returned for their third and fourth run at the test, with mud being pulled into the road as corners were cut.
"Everything has gone well this morning, but we shouldn't look at this too much," Ogier cautioned.
"Some of the others were a little slower this morning and I think we will see more from them in the rally.
"It's a good start, but the weather has been perfect and we are sure that this will change."
Citroen's Yves Matton was pleased with his team's start and pointed out that the team's DS3 WRCs could have gone quicker.
"Both Kris and Mads were on the soft - not the super-soft tyre," said Matton, "and I'm sure the times could have been quicker if we had gone on the same tyres as our rivals.
"We have to remember this is shakedown, not qualifying.
"I am happy with what we have seen so far, it's very good. But the rally starts tomorrow."
Ogier's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth fastest, 2.9 down on the lead Polo R WRC and one tenth up on Robert Kubica's M-Sport Ford Fiesta.
Thierry Neuville was fastest of the all-new Hyundai i20 WRCs, a further tenth down on Kubica.
The second i20 - driven by Dani Sordo - was two seconds down in eighth place.
M-Sport World Rally Team newboy Elfyn Evans was just outside the top times in 11th after a trouble-free start to his time aboard a works Fiesta RS WRC.
Leading WRC shakedown times: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier VW 2m15.3s 2. Kris Meeke Citroen +1.2s 3. Mads Ostberg Citroen +1.2s 4. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +2.9s 5. Robert Kubica M-Sport Ford +3.0s 6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai +3.1s 7. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +3.5s 8. Dani Sordo Hyundai +5.1s 9. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +5.1s 10. Bryan Bouffier M-Sport Ford +6.6s