Pierre Ragues has completed a positive weekend at Rallye Monte-Carlo, the season opening round of the World Rally Championship, bringing his Alpine A110 Rally car home in fourth place in the RGT class.
The notoriously tricky and wintry roads of Monte once again offered crews in all categories a challenge like no other. Snowy, icy, slippery and muddy roads over the four-day event created opportunities and threats in equal measure with no two stages the same.
For Pierre, and co-driver Julien Pesenti, the event could not have begun in a harsher manner as they were forced into an early finish on the opening day. The #46 crew sustained a broken driveshaft at the start of SS2 (Saint-Maurice-Saint-Bonnet), preventing them from completing the day. Although they were able to re-start on Friday, they incurred a ten-minute penalty which halted any aspirations of chasing the RGT front-runners.
Keen to bounce back quickly, Friday’s long itinerary started in classic Monte conditions in the early hours with action in the dark. Pierre had his sights set on fourth place and made good progress. Surfaces were tricky with icy, muddy and wet conditions and lots of snow which meant a range of Michelin tyres.
Pierre set an encouraging third fastest time in SS6 and was given an allocated time in the final stage after a competitor crash forced the stage to be cancelled. At the end of Friday, Pierre held fifth, 52s from fourth and with a target of reaching Monaco on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s three stages continued to offer exciting but challenging conditions with full studded snow tyres to cope with icy conditions. Pierre was third quickest in the first La Bréole-Selonnet stage as well as the following run (Saint-Clément-Freissinières), helping to consolidate their new fourth place in RGT and to reach their target of getting to Monaco.
The final day, a loop of two stages (Puget-Théniers-La Penne and Briançonnet-Entrevaux) run twice, continued to create dramatic moments. Again, on full studded Michelin snow tyres and with no service, Pierre started confidently with a focus on securing fourth place. Despite losing nearly three minutes after going wide on an icy section in SS13, Pierre retained his position and brought the car to Power Stage stop line with the fightback result he had been chasing.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is far more than just outright performance – which Pierre demonstrated with some solid stage times in some incredibly demanding conditions – luck is also a factor. Sadly, the driveshaft issue on Thursday hampered him from the start but making the finish of this legendary event is a huge achievement in its own right.
Pierre commented: “It’s been great to be part of this WRC season-opener at the classic Monte! It has been a really demanding and challenging weekend with some incredible stages and conditions. I’ve enjoyed being part of this wonderful event, despite a few issues that affected our end result. The driveshaft problem on Thursday put us on the back foot – and cost us ten minutes of penalty time as we re-joined on Friday. My target, alongside Julien, was to fight back to fourth in RGT class over the coming days. We put in some pleasing performances in some stages, especially in the complicated conditions. I have to remember this is just my second WRC event and I feel it’s been an impressive learning curve. I’m grateful to have completed this event, particularly after a moment in this morning’s second stage when I lost almost three minutes. You need a bit of luck at Monte, so I’m happy to take fourth place. The Racing Services team have done a fantastic job, as well as our gravel crew. I’ve also been impressed by the performance of the Michelin tyres to withstand such conditions. Thanks to them and to YACCO, First, Sparco and Alpine MSA Deauville for being part of this enjoyable, but tough weekend.”