Solberg keeps pushing, Hirvonen spun

Sebastien Loeb continued his journey towards victory on Rallye Monte Carlo with first out of two night stages. Frenchman praised spectators and enjoyed the atmosphere and remains in solid lead in front of Dani Sordo and Petter Solberg. Spin near the start of the stage cost Mikko Hirvonen some seconds and Finn is now operating in safe mode in order to reach finish and gather points and experience.

After SS 16 Loeb still holds over 2 minutes lead ahead of Sordo. Spaniard’s second place also looks safe with Solberg trailing 30 seconds behind, and Hirvonen’s spin increased his deficit to 44 seconds.

Per Gunnar Andersson stopped in the stage and drivers report fire on his car. There was a fuel leak and car caught fire, putting Proton out of contention in what looked like very good chance to grab some valuable points and victory in SWRC category.

“We really enjoyed this stage, spectators are everywhere, atmosphere is great. No surprises for us, we are keeping good pace”, Sebastien Loeb.

“I’m quite satisfied, maybe the tyres are a bit too soft, but not too bad in the end. Car was moving a lot near the end but I think our times will be OK”, Dani Sordo.

“Good feeling behind the wheel, happy with car and performance. We have one more stage, maybe it will be more damp, we will see”, Petter Solberg.

“I spun at the start and lost maybe 9 or 10 seconds, tyres were cold and we spun in one of the hairpins. I’m happy in the end, we’re building up confidence”, Mikko Hirvonen.

“At the beginning of the stage we had problem with microphone, otherwise not bad”, Francois Delecour.