Monte Carlo : OMV Peugeot Norway - Finish
The OMV Peugeot Norway WRT has met success already at the first round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor gave a sensational performance and finished in excellent fourth overall place. They only missed
19,2 seconds on the podium. The 33-year-old OMV driver's two best times on SS 17 and SS 18 were equally impressive.
Bad luck, on the other hand, for OMV Peugeot Norway WRT-teammate Henning Solberg. The Norwegian had to retire shortly after the start of the last special stage. Winner of the 74th Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo was Ford works driver Marcus Grönholm (Fin) in front of Sebastien Loeb
(Fra/Citroen) and Toni Gardemeister (Fin/Peugeot).
Taking risk paid off
Currently Manfred Stohl has five points to his account in the FIA World Rally Championship 2006. But it was a long and winding road. It was the right choice of tyres that decided the classic rally in the principality. In the morning of the final day Stohl was 2,9 seconds behind Toni Gardemeister. But the Finn was able to expand his lead on the first three special stages.
During the second turn the OMV Team Stohl/Minor put all their eggs in one basket. While the rest of the field hit the road on spikes, the Austrian chose cut slicks. And it paid off. Stohl reached the first best times in his career in the royal class of rallying on the last two special stages. This secured fourth place in front of Subaru works driver Stephane Sarrazin (Fra). In the end he only missed 19,3 seconds on the podium in Monaco.
“We really tried our all on the last special stages to reach the podium. Unfortunately the spectators shoved too much snow onto the road on SS 16. We lost too much time there due to the slicks. But fourth place is a sensational start into the WRC, nevertheless. We got a grip on the Peugeot sooner than we'd thought. Bozian Racing did an excellent job. Though there is always room for some minor adjustments during the next rallies. The last two special stages are definitely a story to tell to my grandchildren,” said the visibly relieved OMV driver Stohl.
Retirement on last special stage
For Henning Solberg the Rallye Monte Carlo was unfortunately only an experience to learn from. He mainly wrestled with the choice of tyres at his first start in the principality. He dropped out as he was risking all to reach a WRC point for the manufacturer's ranking on the last special stage.
Only 300 metres after the start the OMV duo Solberg/Menkerud hit an obstacle and damaged their rear axle – the end of the race. Solberg: “It's a pity. We desperately wanted to contribute to the manufacturer's ranking. It was an extremely difficult rally for us since it was not only the first start in Monte Carlo but also the first WRC-run on tarmac. But the Peugeot 307 WRC is excellent and I'm sure that our performance will improve in Sweden.”
Third place in manufacturer's WRC
Fourth place of Manfred Stohl also meant six points in the manufacturer's WRC for the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT since third-placed Toni Gardemeister hadn't entered in this ranking. Thus the team currently lies in third place behind Ford (14 points) and Citroen (11 points). In the driver's WRC the OMV driver ranks fourth. A ranking that is decisive for the starting order at the next WRC run in Sweden (3rd to 5th of March). Since Gardemeister won't compete there, Stohl will be third to be signalled off the starting ramp in Karlstad.
Press release OMV Peugeot Norway