Confusion reigns in Monaco WRC

2013-01-17 09:02

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - The world rally championship swept in a new era in Monte Carlo with erratic timing and tracking systems causing confusion depsite Citroen's Sebastien Loeb taking the lead.

Loeb is not challenging his a 10th title in a row, he still wants to win four rounds of the 13-event championship that he is contesting.

After a day beset by problems with the timing carried out by new Spanish provider Sistemas Integrales de Telecomunicación (SIT) replacing British firm Stage 1 Technology, Loeb led compatriot and Volkswagen rival Sebastien Ogier by 1min20.3 after four stages.


Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen was third, 1min46.7 off the lead.

Timing had been thrown into confusion early on, with no split times available and the third stage showing huge gaps between drivers while teams and fans tried to fathom what was happening.

Volkswagen team principal Jost Capito: "It's completely unacceptable what we have seen today.

"The FIA expects the manufacturers and the teams to be properly prepared and they are charging a high entry fee. The least you can expect is the proper timing.

"And it's not just the timing, it's security too. The FIA is pushing so much on safety, I don't know how they can run stages where the safety system is not working, where it shows up on the screen that there is an emergency, yet the car is moving," he added. "If there is a real emergency, then what will happen?"

Loeb said he had been unable to measure his pace and at one point the timing did not even register him as leading the race. During the first stage he was shown as stopped on the road when that was not the case.


Loeb said: "I couldn't change my rhythm in accordance with that of the other drivers. So I pushed hard throughout the afternoon. It paid off and we now have a healthy lead. But it's only the start. There are still three long days to go.

Loeb announced in September 2012 that he would not be defending his title, leaving the road open to team mate Hirvonen to become Citroen's lead driver.

Loeb said: "The goal is not the same, but the preparation for the rally is the same.

"If I am able to fight for victory, I will try to do it. But if not, it's not as bad as in the past. I am here for fun and in these conditions, it will be fun."

Ogier claimed the day's opening stage over winding roads and in sub-zero temperatures, with icy patches and a covering of snow in places, from Le Moulinon, south-west of Valence, to Antraigues.

The win gave Volkswagen the perfect start to their championship campaign.