Monte-Carlo - SS3-4: Meeke and Ogier trade stage wins
Kubica and Paddon retire after accidents
Kris Meeke and Sébastien Ogier shared the honours during Friday’s opening two speed tests at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a stage victory each that kept the Briton at the top of the leaderboard in Citroën’s DS 3.
Ogier edged Meeke by 0.9sec through Corps - La Salle En Beaumont, before Meeke won Aspres Les Corps - Chauffayer by 0.7sec to lead by 6.7sec after four of the 16 stages.
It was dry and clear in the mountains and valleys near Gap with temperatures a few degrees below freezing, and super soft Michelin tyres were the choice of most frontrunners. However, patchy ice lurked in the shaded sections, especially in the second of the two stages.
“It was predominantly clear but a difficult surface under the trees and it was hard to read the grip,” said Meeke. “Our ice crew is doing a great job.”
Ogier ended Aspres Les Corps with a slow puncture on the rear left of his Volkswagen Polo R. “It was a small mistake. I touched slightly on a bridge,” admitted the Frenchman.
Fourth in both tests kept Andreas Mikkelsen in third in his Polo R, while Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala were duelling for fourth. Neuville believed the set-up on his Hyundai i20 was too soft, a complaint echoed by seventh-placed team-mate Dani Sordo.
There were two big name casualties in the opener. Robert Kubica retired after crashing his Ford Fiesta RS 6.1km after the start, while Hayden Paddon was also out. The Kiwi slid on ice, clipped a tree and ripped the rear left wheel from his Hyundai i20.
Stéphane Lefebvre lost time with a spin while Lorenzo Bertelli stopped briefly in his Ford Fiesta RS.
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