Local rally driver Robert Barrable delivered an impressive podium finish on his debut in the Rallye Monte Carlo when he and co-driver Stuart Loudon finished third in WRC-2 and 13th overall in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.
The 15-stage, 238-mile route provided a challenging test for all of the competitors, with hazardous winter driving conditions throughout the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.
Torrential rain, even in the normally sun-kissed Cote 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 1,607m 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 experience on his first Rallye Monte Carlo, Barrable started well and posted the second fastest time in WRC-2.
Unfortunately, a repeat run through the three day one stages had to be done in engine “road mode”, and engine issues meant that Barrable had to nurse the car back to his engineers for repairs.
The weather conditions made tyre choice especially tricky on day two but, indicating how quickly he was adapting to the stages, Barrable was an impressive 39.2 seconds faster through the Vitrolles to Col D’Espreaux to Faye test the second time around, which, at 30.6 miles (49.25kms), was the longest stage of the rally.
Barrable had been looking forward to driving the Col de Turini for the first time, but unfortunately the windscreen had completely misted up and, unable 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 third in WRC-2. That was the place in which Barrable finished, coming home behind WRC-2 winner Ukrainian Yurii Protasov and Italian Lorenzo Bertelli.
Speaking after the race, Barrable said: “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.
“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.”