Thierry and Martijn take third place on their crew debut
Rallye Monte-Carlo is always a tough start to a new season, and this year’s event was certainly no different. Run over four days and across 14 tricky stages, the 2021 edition offered classic Monte conditions and its usual challenges.
We emerged from the opening rally of the year with a podium finish thanks to a strong performance for Thierry and Martijn, in their first WRC event as a new crew. It was an intense weekend for the Belgians as they used the rally as a valuable learning experience in incredibly toughest conditions. Taking third place overall, the pair also scored two stage wins, including a dominant performance on Saturday’s Saint-Clément-Freissinières run.
“A challenging start to the new season for us, especially after a late co-driver change,” said Thierry. “To finish on the podium is a satisfying result considering the situation we have faced. The job in the car has been really impressive considering the difficulties of Monte.”
Fifth to finish
Dani and Carlos brought their rally-winning partnership to a conclusion with a fifth-place performance, having struggled for pace at times.
“We haven’t had a very good rally, so to take some manufacturers’ points away is some consolation,” said Dani. “From the beginning, we have not really been on the pace. There have been some parts where I have just lacked confidence. It is sad to finish my partnership with Carlos; we’ve had some good results over the years, and it’s been great to work with him.”
Our Estonians Ott and Martin got the rally off to a flying start, winning the two opening stages on Thursday to take a 3.3-second lead. However, the event didn’t go their way and a double puncture on Saturday afternoon forced them into an early retirement. “Unfortunately, another early finish to Monte for us,” reflected Ott on Saturday afternoon.
That meant just Thierry/Martijn and Dani/Carlos would be eligible to score bonus manufacturer points in the Power Stage on Sunday, which they did with fourth and fifth positions. We claimed a total of 30 points, but it wasn’t the level of performance we were hoping to achieve.
“This rally has finished in the same way it has gone all weekend,” explained our Team Principal Andrea. “Clearly, it has been totally wrong. I don’t know if it is the approach of the people, or whatever, but today we have again shown our limits. I personally have to have a deep rethink on many things because what I have seen this weekend is far from something to make me proud and happy.”
He too had words of praise for Carlos: “I would like to add a final word for Carlos to mark his final event with our team; to extend my thanks to him for his efforts over the past three seasons, including two memorable victories alongside Dani in Sardinia. We wish him well in the next chapter of his career.”
WRC will head to the Arctic Circle for the second round of the season, Arctic Rally Finland, taking place from February 26-28.
Final Overall Classification – Rallye Monte-Carlo
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:56:33.7
2 E. Evans / S. Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +32.6
3 T. Neuville / M. Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:13.5
4 K. Rovanperä / J. Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:33.6
5 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:14.2
6 T. Katsuta / D. Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7:01.3
7 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene (Škoda Fabia R5) +7:23.6
8 G. Greensmith / E. Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +8:21.1
9 A. Fourmaux / R. Jamoul (Ford Fiesta R5) +9:15.8
10 E. Camilli / F. Buresi (Citroën C3 R5) +10:41.0
2021 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
After round 1
1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 52
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 30
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 10
4 Hyundai 2C Competition 8