WRC-2 podium for Barrable on Rallye Monte Carlo debut

January 18, 2014 by Paul Evans  

Robert Barrable scored a podium finish on his Rallye Monte Carlo debut, finishing 3rd in WRC-2 (and 13th overall) in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.

Co-driven by Stuart Loudon, Robert survived hazardous winter driving conditions throughout the 15 stage / 238.53 mile (383.88km) route to successfully complete the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.

Torrential rain, even in the normally sun-kissed Côte d’Azur, didn’t stop hundreds of thousands of spectators line the route to watch their rally heroes battle through muddy and water-drenched mountain roads – while snow and ice on the highest Alpine passes, including the famous Col de Turini (which at 1607 metres was the highest section of this year’s rally), made conditions treacherous and perfect tyre choice impossible.

Determined to reach the finish and gain the maximum amount of experience on his first Rallye Monte Carlo, Robert started well, with 2nd fastest time in WRC-2. Unfortunately, a repeat run through the loop of three Day 1 stages had to be done in engine ‘road mode’, when a leaking turbo return pipe forced Robert to nurse the car back to service in Gap.

The weather conditions made tyre choice especially tricky on Day 2, yet Robert continued to make great progress. As an indication of how quickly he was adapting to the stages, the 26-year old driver from Dublin was an impressive 39.2 seconds faster through the Vitrolles – Col D’Espreaux – Faye test the second time around – which, at 30.6 miles (49.25kms), was the longest stage of the rally.

Upon arrival in Monaco at the end of the event’s longest day, Robert had moved up from 4th in WRC-2 (and 30th overall) to 2nd WRC-2 (and 13th overall).

Robert was looking forward to driving the Col de Turini for the first time, but unfortunately he couldn’t see it – as the windscreen had completed misted up. Unable to reach the windscreen to wipe it, he had to do all-but four miles of the 25 mile loop of two stages completely blind, losing two and a half minutes and dropping to 3rd in WRC-2.

The CA1 Sport team also had to replace a broken clutch in service, although the second run over the Col de Turini was cancelled as heavy snowfall had made the climb to the summit impassable. A dark and wet final stage was completed without drama, allowing Robert to celebrate a well-judged and experience-gaining Rallye Monte Carlo finish – coming home behind WRC-2 winner Yurii Protasov (Ukraine) and Lorenzo Bertelli (Italy), who were both in Fords.

Robert: “The Monte Carlo Rally definitely lived up to my expectations of being one of the toughest rounds of the World Rally Championship, and I can see why it’s regarded as a real classic. It’s been quite an endurance, with a hard recce, a lot of road mileage, the technicality of the stages, the weather conditions and tyre choices.

“The Col de Turini is an amazing stage. Three kilometres before the top it’s all snow, coming down the other side is just like glass, and it’s all so narrow. You can see why you don’t get anything like that anywhere else in the world and I really enjoyed it.

“The lads at CA1 Sport have been great again. To change a clutch in under thirty minutes was magnificent, and that allowed us to carry on and score a podium finish. I didn’t come here thinking of a result, I just wanted to get a finish and enjoy it. So first time at the Monte, I wasn’t really expecting a podium, so I’m really very happy.”

Stuart: “I’m relieved to have reached the finish of the Monte Carlo Rally, as it’s been a very difficult event for us, with the weather conditions, tyre choice and a few issues with the car. We’ve got to the finish and as a team we should be very proud of ourselves. All the guys have done a great job, including changing the clutch which involved taking the gearbox out. To do that without us incurring a time penalty was impressive work.

“I’m extremely proud of Rob to get through his first Monte Carlo Rally and to score a podium result. He’s driven very well, and it’s been far from easy – particularly today, when the windscreen misted up and neither of us could see anything at all. It’s so easy in those situations to get frustrated and throw the car off the road, but Rob kept calm and it’s paid off with a good result.

“We tried where we could to push and set top WRC-2 stage times; not everything was against us, but a lot was! But we’ve gained an awful lot of experience and we’re very pleased.”

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