Day 3: Team-by-team

Although the identity of the Monte Carlo Rally winner might have been a little predictable - Sebastien Loeb having won the previous two Monaco WRC events after all - the drama of legs two and three gave some hitherto unheralded drivers a share of the limelight in the championship's most famous event.

Day 3: Team-by-team

Autosport's rallies editor David Evans rounds up the fortunes of both the fancied runners and the underdogs.


The near-perfect result for the Citroen team, with Sebastien Loeb earning his hat-trick of Monte Carlo wins by leading all weekend, and Britain's Kris Meeke clinching Junior World Rally Championship success in his Citroen C2 - the car's first J-WRC class win. Loeb turned in a faultless drive through the third and final leg, taking fastest stage times even when over two minutes ahead of the pack. Francois Duval spoiled the firm's chances of a totally perfect start to 2005 when he crashed out of second spot on Saturday morning.


After a day of battling with Petter Solberg on Saturday, Toni Gardemeister was ready for more of the same on leg three. His day didn't start brightly when his car suffered roll bar problems - a drawback compounded by the pace Solberg showed as he passed the Ford for third position. Things looked up for Gardemeister on SS12 however, when not only Solberg but also Gronholm crashed. He went from fourth to second and stayed there for his best ever WRC finish. Roman Kresta bounced back from his leg two crash to turn in a confident Sunday drive.


Petter Solberg's intentions for leg three were clear: he wanted a podium spot. That third place was looking good after the first two stages this morning; he was quickest on both and had powered his way past Gardemeister. Unfortunately it all went wrong seven miles into SS12, when he slid off the road and into a wall, ripping the left-front wheel off his Impreza. He tried to continue, but the damage was too extensive and his podium dream ended there. Stephane Sarrazin restarted the final leg after damaging his steering yesterday and gained more experience of the Monte conditions.


Marcus Gronholm was the second high-profile victim of the snowy right-hander after Turini. The impact was the same, the result the same - a lost left-front wheel - but the Finn managed to get through the following 12 miles and then made it all the way back into service on three wheels. Once the car was fixed, he bounced back immediately with fastest time and continued to fifth place. This wasn't the best of rallies for his team-mate Markko Martin. The Estonian struggled to adapt to the car on a rally - and in conditions - he hates. He admitted himself that fourth was better - if not more - than he could have hoped for.


Gilles Panizzi overcame a clutch problem early in the day to score a cracking podium finish for the Mitsubishi team, its first since the Safari Rally in 2001. The hard work for the result was done last night, when he won stage 11. Today Panizzi was mindful of not throwing away what would also be the best ever result for the Lancer WRC. Harri Rovanpera equalled his top result on the Monte - or anything resembling an asphalt rally - with seventh place.


Frenchman Alex Bengue was the only Skoda remaining in the event after Armin Schwarz crashed heavily on the second leg. Bengue continued to impress with solid times, while the Fabia also ran without any technical troubles throughout today's stages - but unfortunately the time penalty incurred after damaging his car beyond immediate repair on Saturday's final stage denied Alex the chance of a points finish.

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