Jari-Matti Latvala has taken a surprising Monte Carlo Rally lead after a bold tire choice for the second stage of the event.
World champion and five-time Monte winner Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) had been quickest as expected on this morning's Le Moulinon to Antraigues opener, albeit by just one second ahead of the flying Dani Sordo's Mini.
SS1 had seen dry asphalt, but the following Burzet to St. Martial stage featured patches of snow and ice. Loeb and Ford driver Latvala both opted for a mix of studded and slick tires, placing one studded tire at the front and one at the rear, diagonally apart.
While Loeb ran soft tires, Latvala was on super softs, and despite having never tested the slick/studded combination in this configuration before, he put in an incredible stage time – 52sec quicker than Loeb. That moved Latvala from fourth place, 28sec off the lead, to first, with a 30.5sec advantage over Loeb.
Petter Solberg is third in the second works Ford, having impressively got through SS2 with no studded tires at all and still been second quickest, 28sec behind Latvala but 24sec faster than Loeb.
After his superb SS1 performance, Sordo clipped a wall and damaged his Mini's suspension on SS2. The Spaniard was still able to nurse his car through the stage and remains fourth overall.
Mikko Hirvonen was third after SS1 but struggled in SS2's tricky conditions as he continues to acclimatize to the Citroen DS3, leaving him fifth.