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After 433 competitive kilometres, the 80th Rallye Monte-Carlo came to a close with the event’s final Power Stage – running from Sainte Agnès to Col de la Madone – this morning. In an incredible debut for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, Monte-Carlo debutants Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak finished an impressive fifth and eighth respectively as Monte specialist, François Delecour, proved he still has what it takes to tame the demanding roads with sixth place overall.
With his best ever WRC finish on this his first ever outing at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Novikov confirmed himself to be a real star of the future. In a drive of maturity beyond his years, the young Russian demonstrated technical knowledge and real composure behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Alongside experienced co-driver Denis Giraudet, the pairing made some intelligently informed tyre choices, consistently posting top-ten times throughout the day and going third fastest on both SS11 and SS13.
With only the final Power Stage left to run on the last day of competition, Novikov’s impressive rally continued. Picking up his first Power Stage point with yet another third fastest time – just 2.6 seconds shy of pacesetter, Sébastien Loeb – the Russian well and truly proved himself as a highly talented and intelligent young driver. The 21 year-old will certainly be one to watch as the season ensues.
On his popular return to the WRC, Delecour confirmed what makes him such an expert in Monte-Carlo. With a combined age of over a century, Delecour and co-driver Dominique Savignoni showed their younger competitors what it means to commit to the stages around the Principality. Despite incurring issues with their intercom and power assisted steering throughout the event, the French pairing soon got to grips with their Ford Fiesta RS WRC, setting competitive times throughout. Regularly matching world champions, Loeb and Petter Solberg, and setting the second fastest time on SS11, the Frenchman’s return to the championship has been celebrated by fans and colleagues alike.
In an entertaining twist, the flamboyant Frenchman gave the driving seat over to his co-driver for the Power Stage. As a special treat for Savignoni on this his final rally ahead of retirement, the Frenchman drove an impressive stage for a navigator! At 52.2 seconds adrift of Loeb, Delecour admitted that his note calling may have hindered his friend’s challenge!
In a composed return to the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak’s maiden run through the challenging stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo was one to be noted. Demonstrating real maturity, the young Estonian drove a composed rally to collate valuable knowledge of what it takes to be a future winner around the Principality. Setting top-five times in the process, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk made intelligently informed tyre choices throughout the rally – matching their more experienced colleagues on their first experience of these unforgiving stages.
The young Estonian continued his mature drive into the Power Stage with another top-ten finish to secure eighth place overall. Returning for the remaining 12 rounds in the WRC, the world’s media will be keen to see how this impressive young talent develops on the more familiar events.