Rallye Monte Carlo – WRC 2 Recap
Kopecky wins in Monte
The traditional start of every WRC season takes place in Monte Carlo, with one of the most difficult and unpredictable events of the calendar. Experience plays a pivotal role and thus, most drivers in the ultra competitive WRC 2 category, seemed reluctant to count the event held on tarmac and icy roads, as one round of their WRC 2 campaign. Nevertheless, 6 crews tackled the legendary rally in terms of the WRC 2 category, with official Skoda Motorsport driver Jan Kopecky, co-driven in the Fabia R5 by Pavel Dresler, claiming the win. Their task was not easy, as they had to face 3 high profile M-Sport crews, those of Frenchmen Eric Camilli-Benjamin Veillas, Finns Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markkula and the Dutchman Kevin Abbring, partnered by Belgian Pieter Tsjoen, all sharing identical Ford Fiesta R5. The entry list for WRC 2 category was completed by Belgians Guillaume De Mevius-Louis Louka (Peugeot 208 T16) and Italians Eddie Sciessere-Flavio Zanella (Citroen DS3 R5)
How the action unfolded in brief
On Thursday night, right after the ceremonial start at Monte Carlo, Camilli-Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) initially took the lead after two difficult night stages, in front of Kopecky-Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) and Suninen-Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5), while Abbring-Tsjoen (Ford Fiesta R5) lost time due to puncture.
Friday proved to be the decisive day of the rally. As the Czechs of Skoda Motorsport took the lead in SS4, Suninen-Markkula retired from the day due to going off road. After the first loop of stages, Kopecky led by 4 seconds over Camilli and the battle was on, until the first stage of the second loop. At that time, the Frenchman slid wide and went briefly off, retiring from the day as well and letting the Czech driver with a comfortable lead.
On Saturday and Sunday, Jan Kopecky-Pavel Dresler maintained steady pace and avoided risks, to return in Monaco with their first win of the season. That was win Number 4 for Kopecky in WRC 2, while finishing 10th in the overall classification, provided the Czechs with 1 point in WRC standings as well. Italians Sciessere-Zanella (Citroen DS3 R5) claimed second place, in front of Suninen-Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5), who returned under Rally2 rules and claimed 6 stage wins. Although they finished the stages in second place of WRC 2, Belgians De Mevius-Louka (Peugeot 208 T16) were given a 19-minute penalty that demoted them to 4th and last position of WRC 2 classification, because during the final scrutineering, their car was found fitted with a battery that was lighter than the minimum weight permitted in the category. Two crews didn’t reach the finish, as Camilli-Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) retired again on Saturday due to a technical problem, whilst Abbring-Tsjoen (Ford Fiesta R5) had to retire with damaged radiator, after having set 3 fastest times.
Rallye Monte Carlo 2018 – WRC 2
January 25-28, 2018
WRC 2 competitors: 6
Special Stages: 17
Total SS length: 388,59 km
Stage wins: Kopecky 6, Suninen 6, Abbring 3, Camilli 2
WRC 2 Classification leader: SS 1-3 Camilli, SS 4-17 Kopecky