The 2011 Monte Carlo Rally has been won by Bryan Bouffier, driving a 207 for Peugeot France. It will be a win to remember for the 32-year old Frenchman who hails from a town called Die (in the Drome region, where Valence is located), as amazingly, he’s never scored a single point in the IRC before this.
French champ Bouffier finished the rally 32.5 seconds ahead of second placed Freddy Loix (Skoda) and 1m19.7s ahead of the third placed Peugeot UK car of Guy Wilks. Bouffier’s teammate Stephane Sarrazin was originally third after winning four stages of the rally, but since he’s just driving this round of the IRC, the Le Mans racer took a time penalty to help Wilks. Sarrazin was fourth.
It’s freezing cold and snowy in the mountains when we were there to experience the famous Col de Turini yesterday night, and tyre choice was the key factor in the tricky conditions. It’s never easy, as conditions vary between different parts of a stage, and some parts may be bone dry with other parts covered in ice. We felt this for ourselves in the van travelling to the stages.
Bouffier went for a combo of snow and studded tyres that saw him climb from seventh to first. The biggest loser in the weather roulette was IRC defending champ Juho Hanninen. The Skoda man led the rally with a comfortable margin in the early parts, but eventually finished sixth. France’s 48-year old Francois Delecour, also in a Peugeot, was fifth. Ex world champ Petter Solberg was as high as second on his IRC debut but was another victim of tyre choice. He retired 13 km from the finish with an alternator failure.
By the way, winner Bouffier has some connection to Proton. He was actually the lead development driver for the Proton Satria Neo S2000 back in 2008. Third placed man Wilks drove for Proton in 2009 as well. Unfortunately, current drivers Chris Atkinson and PG Andersson bowed out on Day 1. Read our previous post here.