Day 3 of the 80th Rallye Monte Carlo saw more mixed fortunes for the Go Fast Energy World Rally Team. Despite some minor issues over 77.3 kilometres of demanding stages, both crews maintained their positions with Henning Solberg lying 14th and Matthew Wilson 13th as the team ventures south to the Principality of Monaco for the final two days of competition.
With the ideal choice of four super-soft tyres going into the first stage (SS11), Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor again demonstrated their speed potential by setting the seventh fastest time in their Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Just 0.4 seconds down on eight-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb, the charismatic Norwegian also brought the gap to team-mate Wilson down to 43.7 seconds.
Restricted to a diagonal configuration of two super-soft and two studded tyres as opposed to the optimal full set of studs, it was an eventful SS12 for Solberg. Running wide on unsighted ice at the final hairpin, the Norwegian caused some damage to the left-rear wheel and suspension of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The incident lost Solberg and co-driver Minor over a minute, but with their car rectified in the midday service, the pairing were keen to overturn their cruel bad luck in the afternoon stage.
In a departure from SS12, SS13 proved much less eventful for Solberg and the Go Fast Energy World Rally Team. On the soft tyres, the Norwegian admitted that he could have been quicker had he opted for the super-soft option. The Norwegian still set the 12th quickest time and lies 14th heading into tomorrow’s stages.
Finding themselves on the right tyres in the opening stage (SS11), Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin closed in on the top-ten with a solid time on the super-soft rubber. Happy with their Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the British pairing reduced the gap to Martin Prokop in to just 1.2 seconds in the process.
Much like team-mate Solberg, Wilson was restricted to a diagonal configuration of two super-soft and two studded tyres for the treacherous conditions of SS12. With heavy rain, fog and ice all plaguing the 24.13km stage, the British driver had a slight off at the top of the hill. Having to reverse, Wilson lost over 20 seconds, but he was happy to finish such a stage given the challenging conditions.
It was a much cleaner stage for Wilson in SS13. Continuing their cautious approach, he and co-driver Martin set the 13th fastest time to maintain 13th place – 1:49.5 clear of team-mate Solberg – as the crews head into Day 4 in Monte Carlo.
Henning Solberg (14th) said:
“I had the super-soft tyres for stage 13, when really I should have had softs. But we went as well as we could have gone. We are here and that is all that counts, so I am happy.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but for sure it is good to be here.”
Matthew Wilson (13th) said:
“We had no problems in this afternoon’s stage. The road was clean and dry which was a big difference from this morning’s conditions. Overall it was a good stage. If it is like this tomorrow it will be nice, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”