Crews show i20 R5 ’20 improvements
In the opening round of the new season, our WRC 2 crews experienced the highs and lows of Rallye Monte-Carlo in the upgraded i20 R5 ’20.
Ole Christian and Jonas showed encouraging pace while fighting for the lead, with two WRC 2 stage wins over the weekend, but retired on the final morning. Nikolay and Yaroslav, meanwhile, finished third in the category in his first-ever Monte.
It was a valuable learning experience and underscored the hard work of our Customer Racing department in improving the all-round performance of our R5 car.
“I think we have shown that our i20 R5 has definitely improved its performance level,’ said our Team Principal Andrea. “The job carried out by our Customer Racing engineers on the upgraded ’20 specification car has been very well done.”
Heading into the unknown
The 16-stage Monte-Carlo event saw a complete range of weather and road conditions over the four-day schedule. Thursday evening saw two night-time stages before the first full day of action on Friday. A repeat loop of three stages allowed the two crews to get their first complete taste of the i20 R5 ’20 on the longest individual day of the event.
Saturday saw fast changing conditions with melting ice requiring a tactical and cautious approach. Sunday’s itinerary was no less demanding with four stages, one which unfortunately caught out our Norwegian-Swedish crew.
Earlier in the event, Ole Christian/Jonas had been quickly on the pace against experienced rivals, claiming a WRC 2 stage win in SS3 to move into the category lead. Unfortunately, they felt Monte’s bite in SS6 as a puncture lost them two minutes of time. They were still able to retain second, just ten seconds behind the leader, Mads Østberg.
Hopes of victory were dented on Saturday as they spun on the final stage of the day. Nikolay/Yaroslav, too, lost time through a mechanical issue in SS10, but the two crews retained their second and third places.
Final day frustrations
As action moved back towards Monte-Carlo on the final morning, chances of victory faded away, as Ole Christian/Jonas crashed out in SS14. “That was not the ending we wanted,” said Ole Christian. “The rest of the weekend was good, though! We were on the pace on every stage and felt really comfortable in the car. Such a shame with the puncture, as we were in a tight battle for victory in the WRC2. Both Jonas and I feel we have been competitive all weekend, and that is promising ahead of the next round.”
Our Russian crew completed the rally inside the WRC 2 top-three, scoring points, a positive that Nikolay took away from the weekend. “I am pleased to finish our first rally with the i20 R5,” he said. “It was not an easy event with lots of muddy conditions, as well as ice, snow and slush. While it was tricky, we had a valuable experience getting to know the car. We didn’t push too much, as our objective was to finish the rally and to take some points away, which we achieved.”
Andrea, however, is hoping for more at the next round in Sweden (February 13-16): “Honestly speaking, the driver performance this weekend has not really been up to our expectations,” he said. “We are looking forward to seeing a big improvement on that front in the next round.”
Final Overall Classification WRC 2 – Rallye Monte-Carlo
1 M. Østberg / T. Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) 3:15:10.4
2 A. Fourmaux / R. Jamoul (Ford Fiesta R5 MkII) +3:36.5
3 N. Gryazin / Y. Fedorov (Hyundai i20 R5) +5:13.7
4 R. Yates / J. Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5 MkII) +12:54.7
2020 WRC 2 Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 1
1 M. Østberg 25
2 A. Fourmaux 18
3 N. Gryazin 15
4 R. Yates 12
5 O.C Veiby 0
2020 FIA WRC 2 Championship for Teams’ Standings
After round 1
1 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 30
2 PH Sport 25
3 Hyundai Motorsport N 15
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.