Bryan Bouffier got his Intercontinental Rally Challenge title campaign off to the best possible start
by winning the centenary edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo, which finished in Monacos harbour front in
the early hours of Saturday morning following three days of intense competition shown live on
Driving a Peugeot France 207 Super 2000, the 32-year-old from Die in the nearby Drome region,
took the lead on a dramatic seventh stage on Thursday afternoon when a freak snowfall coated
much of the mountainous roads and made driving conditions treacherous.
Juho Hanninen, who had been leading comfortably in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000, was one
of several leading drivers to get caught out by selecting the wrong type of tyre for the wintry
conditions. However, Bouffiers decision to opt for a combination of snow and studded tyres gave
him just enough grip to slither through the stages and climb from seventh to first overall despite
spinning into a bank at one point.
Bouffier, the French champion who shone on a handful of IRC appearances last year, first
emerged as a contender for victory by winning stage six on Thursday having lost time on
Wednesday afternoon with a rear differential fault. He began day three with a lead of 28 seconds,
which he was able to extend following a controlled, albeit attacking, performance throughout
Fridays five tests. He becomes the 19th different driver to win a round of the IRC since it began in
2007. His success was also the 21st for Peugeot in the series.
Changeable weather conditions are part of Rallye Monte-Carlo folklore and added further spice to
this years event. That they contributed to Hanninens downfall in the space of one afternoon was
poor reward for the defending IRC champion, who had excelled by claiming three stage wins in the
early running, but had to settle for sixth in the final classification.
With Hanninen caught out by the weather and Czech Republic team-mate Jan Kopecky not
showing the sparkle that has made him IRC runner-up for the past two seasons, it was left to
Freddy Loix to uphold Skodas honour in second overall after the Belgian recovered from a spin on
stage six. No driver has won more rounds of the IRC than Loix but he had to settle for second on
Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stephane Sarrazin, another driver to drop time in the snow of Thursday,
scored four stage wins to complete the final test in third for Peugeot France after his mechanics
changed a faulty gearbox in 15 minutes when it got stuck in fourth gear a handful of kilometres into
stage 11. The delay dropped him to fifth with two stages remaining before his late charge netted
what appeared to be the final podium spot.
But because Sarrazin is unlikely to contest any more IRC events this season in order to
concentrate on his other motorsport commitments, he elected to take a time penalty before the
final control to promote Guy Wilks to third and help the Peugeot UK drivers title bid.
Wilks, who is embarking on a full IRC campaign for Peugeot UK in 2011,
drove without error in his 207. He lost ground on Friday morning when an
intercom fault made it difficult for the Briton to hear co-driver Phil Pughs
pacenotes. He also reported a few concerns with his rear suspension settings,
which he said affected the handling of his car, while his decision to use soft
compound tyres for the final brace of stages failed to deliver the pace he
Francois Delecour belied his 48 years and lack of recent international experience, to start day
three in second overall in his privateer 207. The 1994 Monte-Carlo winner was languishing in
eighth when he made an inspired tyre choice for stage seven by selecting studded tyres. He
vaulted up the leaderboard and was quickest of all on stage eight. However, Delecours fears that
he wouldnt be able to hold on for a podium in his older-specification car were realised when he
began to slip back, his efforts not helped by an engine power glitch on the final night.
Former world champion Petter Solberg had moved into second place on his IRC debut heading to
the snow-hit loop of stages on Thursday. But his decision to use intermediate tyres backfired
spectacularly and he slipped to a distant seventh before alternator failure stopped his Peugeot 13
kilometres from the finish in Monaco.
Nicolas Vouilloz, competing on his first rally for 12 months, fought back from having to change a
punctured front-right tyre on stage one to land seventh overall in a koda France-backed Fabia.
Vouilloz, the IRC champion in 2007, gave a glimpse of what might have been with the quickest run
through the first Col de Turini stage.
Toni Gardemeister also lost ground with a puncture on day one but recovered to take 10th for Astra
Racing after overcoming a sticking throttle. Giandomenico Basso, a four-time IRC event winner,
overtook the Finn on the final evening on his first appearance in a 207 by winning stage 11.
Ex-Formula One driver Alex Caffi impressed on his Monte-Carlo debut to finish 11th with M-Sport
Ford Fiesta driver Julien Maurin 12th. IRC Production Cup winner Florian Gonon took 13th in his
Subaru Impreza WRX with Pierre Campana making up a deficit of nearly two minutes to win the
IRC 2WD Cup after he was delayed by a puncture on Thursday morning. Mark Wallenwein
achieved his aim of finishing his first Rallye Monte-Carlo, taking 21st for Skoda Auto Deutschland.
Several drivers failed to make it beyond day one including PROTON Motorsports drivers P-G
Andersson and Chris Atkinson. Andersson crashed on stage two while an electrical failure curtailed
Atkinsons bid 700 metres from the start of the opening test.
Andreas Mikkelsen damaged his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabias suspension sliding into a wall four
corners into the first stage and retired. Fellow Norwegian Henning Solberg also failed to go beyond
stage one after dropping considerable time with a puncture.
Thierry Neuville crashed his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 three kilometres from the
finish of the first stage. Bruno Magalhaes left the road at high speed on stage four although
thankfully neither he nor new co-driver Paulo Grave were injured after inflicting sizeable damage to
their Peugeot Sport Portugal 207.
Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall: Its really fantastic to have won this
special rally. I am so happy for Peugeot who gave me this opportunity and did a really good job.
There was big pressure on me, there were a lot of fantastic drivers and the conditions were also
very difficult. I am just so happy.
Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, second overall: The first day
was not the most difficult but we were quite controlled. Then the second day
was very difficult with the weather. To keep second place is a good result and
Im quite pleased.
Guy Wilks (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S2000, third overall: It was
hard work on that last stage because we had a soft tyre that wasnt right for
the conditions. But we pushed like hell and made no big mistakes. Its a good
result first time in the car.
TOP TEN IRC POSITIONS AFTER DAY THREE
1 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 3h32m55.7s
2 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) Skoda Fabia S2000 +32.5s
3 Guy Wilks (GBR)/Phil Pugh (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m19.7s
4 Stephane Sarrazin (FRA)/Jacques-Julien Renucci (FRA) 207 S2000 +1m21.9s
5 Francois Delecour (FRA)/Dominique Savignoni (FRA) 207 S2000 +1m22.4s
6 Juho Hanninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +1m29.3s
7 Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Skoda Fabia S2000 +4m47.8s
8 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +7m45.9s
9 Giandomenico Basso (ITA)/Mitia Dotta (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +8m46.0s
10 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tomi Tuominen (FIN) Peugeot 207 S2000 +9m09.0s
IRC Production Cup: Florian Gonon (SUI)/Sandra Arlettaz (SUI) Subaru Impreza WRX
IRC 2WD Cup: Pierre Campana (FRA)/Sabrina de Castelli (FRA) Renault Clio R3
Drivers after round one of 12
1 Bryan Bouffier 25pts
2 Freddy Loix 18pts
3 Guy Wilks 15pts
4 Stephane Sarrazin 12pts
5 Francois Delecour 10pts
6 Juho Hanninen 8pts
7 Nicolas Vouilloz 6pts
8 Jan Kopecky 4pts
9 Giandomenico Basso 2pt
10 Toni Gardemeister 1pt
Manufacturers after round one of 12
1 Peugeot 40pts
2 Skoda 26pts
IRC Production Cup after round one of 12
1 Florian Gonon 25pts
2 Vojtech Stajf 18pts
3 Giacomo Oligari 15pts
4 Maurizio Verini 12pts
5 Claude Carret 10pts
6 Eamonn Boland 8pts
7 Herve Knapick 6pts
8 Miguel Baudoin 4pts
9 Remi Tosello 2pts
10 Pierre Bos 1pts
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round one of 12
1 Pierre Campana 25pts
2 Michael Burri 18pts
3 Renaud Poutot 15pts
4 Eric Mauffrey 12pts
5 Adrien Tambay 10pts
6 Andrea Crugnola 8pts
7 Jean-Michel Raoux 6pts
8 Dimitrios Amaxopoulos 4pts
9 Lillian Vialle 2pts
10 Christophe Fontaine 1pt
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round 12 of 12 (best seven results)
1 Peugeot 10pts
SS1: Stephane Sarrazin
SS2-6: Juho Hanninen
SS7-13: Bryan Bouffier
Wednesday 19 January
SS1: Le Moulinon Antraigues* (36.87kms): Stephane Sarrazin
SS2: Burzet St Martial* (41.06kms): Juho Hanninen
SS3: St Bonnet Le Froid St Bonnet Le Froid* (25.22kms): Juho Hanninen
SS4: St Bonnet Le Froid St Bonnet Le Froid* (25.22kms): Freddy Loix
Thursday 20 January
SS5: St Jean en Royans Font DUrle* (23.05kms): Juho Hanninen
SS6: Cimetiere de Vassieux Col de Gaudissart* (24.13kms): Bryan Bouffier
SS7: St Jean en Royans Font DUrle* (23.05kms): Bryan Bouffier
SS8: Cimetiere de Vassieux Col de Gaudissart* (24.13kms): Francois Delecour
Friday 21-Saturday 22 January
SS9: Montauban sur lOuveze Eygalayes (29.89kms): Stephane Sarrazin
SS10: Moulinet La Bollene Vesubie* (23.41kms): Nicolas Vouilloz
SS11: Lantosque Luceram* (18.81kms): Giandomenico Basso
SS12: Moulinet La Bollene Vesubie* (23.41kms): Stephane Sarrazin
SS13: Lantosque Luceram* (18.81kms): Stephane Sarrazin
* = Live on Eurosport.
Eurosport, Europes largest television sports channel, will show a review of the rally at 19:45hrs-
20:15hrs on Sunday 23 January.