Thursday 19 January 2017

Rally - The Plan

For those of you who are concerned about the apparent lack of pace of the new Citroen C3 WRC machines during the pre Monte Carlo Rally Shakedown, fear not, this was all part of the plan. Sebastien Ogier may have set the headline grabbing fastest time in the new Fiesta with Kris Meeke a full 20 seconds in arrears, but the French team were playing the long game. In order not to eat into their allocation of studded tyres, the C3 WRC drivers opted to complete their runs on super soft tyres, even if it meant recording more modest times.

Whilst not especially representative of the rest of the rally, the 3.35km shakedown stage featured several changes in surface, from dry roads to sheet ice.

Each of the teams have 43 Michelin tyres that can be used for the entire rally – including the shakedown – the crews have twenty Pilot Sport S5 (soft tyres), twenty-four SS5 (super soft tyres), twelve Pilot Alpin A41 (non-studded snow tyres) and twenty-four A41C (studded tyres). Since the rally is set to be contested in typically wintry conditions, the Citroën drivers decided to conserve their stock of winter tyres by opting to run on super soft compounds.

On that basis, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre used the four runs to check that their C3 WRCs were working properly. Competing in a previous generation car, Craig Breen completed three mandatory runs.

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal explained: "Since the result of the shakedown has no impact on the rally itself, we decided to conserve our allocation of studded tyres. The drivers didn't have an easy job, because they had to cope with icy sections without damaging the cars. Mission accomplished for us and there are a number of positives we can take away from this shakedown."

Kris Meeke commented: "The shakedown wasn't very interesting because of our tyre choice. There was no chance of going for performance on slicks in these conditions. But we were able to make sure that the car was working properly. Tomorrow, it will be a whole new ball game with the leg between Monaco and Gap. I'm expecting it to be a tricky start to the rally, but I'm really looking forward to it!"

Stéphane Lefebvre said: "I learned a lot again, because I hadn't experienced conditions these in testing. There was quite a lot of ice, a few damp patches, some snow here and there and the racing line became dirtier as more cars completed their runs… It was interesting and useful to work on our set-up with regards to the race."

Craig Breen added: "It was quite a tricky shakedown. It's difficult to get a clear reading on the standings because all the drivers were trying out various options in terms of tyre choice. In any case, the most important thing was to get some kilometres under our belt on the ice and snow. Everything went well and we're ready for the weekend ahead."

Shakedown Classification:
1. Ogier / Ingrassia - 2:18.1
2 Mikkelsen - 2:22.3
3 Tanak - 2:24.2
16. Breen / Martin - 2:34.3
18. Lefebvre / Moreau - 2:35.0
20. Meeke / Nagle - 2:38.0

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