Bryan Bouffier will take a lead of 28.7 seconds into the final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo as snow
made driving conditions treacherous and threw the battle for victory on the Intercontinental Rally
Challenge counter wide open.
Bouffier, driving a Peugeot France 207 S2000, started Thursday last two stages in the mountains
of Frances Drome region 1m37.6s adrift of runaway leader Juho Hanninen. But in a dramatic turn
of events, the 32-year-old Bouffier shot from seventh to first on one stage to set up a grandstand
finish in the hills above Monte-Carlo tomorrow night, which will be televised live on Eurosport.
Although there were reports of snow falling on the demanding asphalt roads, the setting of
Thursdays closing brace of stages, the bulk of the leading runners opted to use intermediate
compound or winter tyres.
French champion Bouffier left service in Valence with four snow tyres and two studded tyres in the
boot of his car. While there were only a few flakes of snow falling when he left the start line of
stage seven, the snow had intensified dramatically just a few kilometres later.
With the stages becoming increasingly slippery, Bouffier fitted his two studded tyres to the front of
his car for the final test. As his rivals struggled to keep control of their cars, Bouffier had just
enough grip to get to the stage end with the lead of the rally intact, despite nudging a bank when
he suffered the first of two spins.
Hanninen, with a combination of intermediate and snow tyres, somehow managed to slide his
Skoda Fabia Super 2000 through the two stages as fading light added to the challenge. But having
led by 51.5s following Thursday mornings two stages, the Finn completed the second day of the
centenary edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo 2m36.0s off the lead.
We took the risk with the tyres thinking the snow would not be so bad but it didnt work out, said
the defending IRC champion. This is rally and this is what can happen, especially on the Monte-
Carlo. Its very difficult now but we wont give up.
Francois Delecour, the winner of Rallye Monte-Carlo back in 1994, was seemingly out of
contention for a podium finish in his privateer 207 at Thursdays midday service. However, by
selecting a set of studded tyres (the snow tyres he had planned to use were too badly worn) the
48-year-old gave himself a gilt-edged opportunity to make up ground on the leaders. He won the
days final stage to climb from an overnight eighth to second.
Petter Solberg started stage seven in second overall in his 207 after demoting Freddy Loix when
the Belgian spun his Fabia six kilometres into stage six. Solberg gambled by choosing intermediate
tyres for the afternoon stages and fell back to seventh, while Loix chose a combination of
intermediate and snow covers and managed to hold third place as he slithered through the snow.
Guy Wilks has climbed to fourth in his Peugeot UK 207 following another error-free performance.
The British driver thought snow tyres would prove the safer option although afterwards he said he
regretted not selecting studded rubber. Stephane Sarrazin, in another 207, has dropped to fifth
after admitting to having no confidence as the available grip rapidly diminished.
Former IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz is eighth as he continues his recovery
from the front-right puncture he suffered on Wednesdays first stage. Jan
Kopecky is down to ninth after a torrid afternoon in the snow, while Toni
Gardemeister, another puncture victim on day one, is up to 10th.
Ex-Grand Prix driver Alex Caffi is an impressive 12th overnight on his Rallye
Monte-Carlo debut, one place behind fellow Italian Giandomenico Basso.
Julien Maurin was 10th heading into the afternoon stages in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 but
slipped back with a transmission glitch. Jean-Sebastien Vigion, who was ninth prior to stage seven,
lost huge amounts of time by selecting slick, dry weather tyres. Skoda Auto Deutschlands Mark
Wallenwein, making his IRC debut, is still on course to achieve his target of finishing the event,
despite nudging his rear suspension on a rock on stage eight.
Two Swiss drivers head the IRC support categories. Florian Gonon, who set the third fastest time
on stage eight, leads the IRC Production Cup in his Subaru Impreza, while Michael Burri heads the
IRC 2WD Cup runners in a Citroen DS3 R3 as a puncture delayed overnight leader Pierre
Campana on Thursdays first stage.
Following a final service halt in Valence on Friday morning, crews begin the 390-kilometre journey
to Monaco via the last Drome stage, Montauban sur lOuveze-Eygalayes. Upon arrival in Monaco,
cars enter parc ferme while the drivers and co-drivers are able to rest before the four night stages
in the Alpes Maritimes.
However, only the leading 60 competitors at the completion of the Montauban sur lOuveze stage
will tackle the nighttime tests, including two runs over Col de Turini, in keeping with one of the
events long-standing traditions. The winner is likely to be known at approximately 00:30hrs on
Saturday 22 January with the prize-giving taking place in the Place du Palais at 11:00hrs.
Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall: That was incredible and I am
actually very lucky because I spun twice and hit a bank. I took no risks because the conditions
were so difficult. When I won my first stage of Rally Monte-Carlo earlier today it was a special
feeling. To be leading is something amazing.
Francois Delecour (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, second overall: Even with studded tyres that
was so difficult and so easy to make a mistake. You really had to drive carefully just to get through
the stage. I cannot believe what happened.
Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall: It was really difficult on those final
two stages but there is still a long way to go and its not over yet. We went for snow tyres without
any studs and it was wrong for the conditions.
TOP TEN IRC POSITIONS AFTER DAY TWO
1 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 2h14m38.8s
2 Francois Delecour (FRA)/Dominique Savignoni (FRA) 207 S2000 +28.0s
3 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) Skoda Fabia S2000 +1m05.5s
4 Guy Wilks (GBR)/Phil Pugh (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m20.5s
5 Stephane Sarrazin (FRA)/Jacques-Julien Renucci (FRA) 207 S2000 +1m41.1s
6 Juho Hanninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m35.7s
7 Petter Solberg (NOR)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m49.1s
8 Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Skoda Fabia S2000 +5m31.0s
9 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +7m51.7s
10 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tomi Tuominen (FIN) Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m52.7s
IRC Production Cup: Florian Gonon (SUI)/Sandra Arlettaz (SUI) Subaru Impreza
IRC 2WD Cup: Michael Burri (SUI)/Stephane Rey (SUI) Citroen DS3 R3
DAY THREE ITINERARY (FRIDAY 21 JANUARY)
Special stages: Five
Special stage distance: 114.33kms
Liaison distance: 542.13kms
Total distance: 656.46kms
Service E: Valence (0:20hrs), 06:30hrs
SS9: Montauban sur lOuveze Eygalayes (29.89kms), 09:08hrs
Monaco Parc Ferme: Monaco (4:45hrs), 13:53hrs
Service F: Monaco (0:23hrs), 17:44hrs
SS10: Moulinet La Bollene Vesubie* (23.41kms), 19:15hrs
SS11: Lantosque Luceram* (18.81kms), 19:58hrs
Service G: Monaco (0:20hrs), 21:57hrs (regroup at 21:10hrs)
SS12: Moulinet La Bollene Vesubie* (23.41kms), 23:25hrs
SS13: Lantosque Luceram* (18.81kms), 00:08hrs
Service H: Monaco (0:10hrs), 01:20hrs
Prize giving: Place du Palais Princier, 11:00hrs
* = Live on Eurosport.
Eurosports coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo on Friday 21 January will be shown as follows (all
times are shown in CET):
18:45hrs-20:45hrs: Highlights of SS9 Montauban sur lOuveze-Eygalayes, LIVE SS10 Moulinet-La
Bollene-Vesubie and LIVE SS11 Lantosque-Luceram (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
23:00hrs-01:00hrs: LIVE SS12 Moulinet-La Bollene-Vesubie and LIVE SS13 Lantosque-Luceram
(Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)