Andreas Mikkelsen's debut with Skoda UK in the Monte Carlo Rally has gotten off to a disastrous start after he clipped a wall and had to stop to make repairs very early on the event's opening stage.
The Norwegian brushed a wall with the left rear of his Fabia just a few corners onto the 36.87-kilometer Le Moulinon to Antraigues stage, and had to pull off and stop shortly afterward. Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene struggled to change the damaged wheel and had to continue with it after a three-and-a-half minute delay. The time loss stretched to 9m33sec by the time they had struggled through to the finish.
"It was only four corners in or something," Mikkelsen said to reporters at the end of the stage. "The corner tightened and I didn't have it in my notes – I can't understand why. We just clipped the wall and had a puncture. I think it was just the wrong note, basically. It's a shame, a real shame. Stupid."
Works Skoda driver Nicolas Vouilloz has also had to stop to change a puncture on the stage.
Today's four-stage itinerary does not feature a full service until the evening, with only tire services and regroups between the stages. Conditions are currently dry and sunny, with no sign of ice on the stages at present.