The fight for WRC2 honors on the Monte Carlo Rally is back on after a five-and-a-half minute penalty for Yoann Rossel was rescinded on appeal, placing him only 22.9 seconds behind class leader Andreas Mikkelsen in second.
Rossel was penalized heavily for checking in 33 minutes later to the time control between the end-of-day technical zone and flexi-service on Friday.
That sent him way down the order and gave Mikkelsen a clear lead over Toksport team-mate Marco Bulacia, as Stéphane Lefebvre’s dramatic crash on Saturday morning took him out of the rally after he’d already been given a 30-minute penalty of his own.
But an appeal by Rossel’s PH Sport team was succesfully upheld, thanks to a discrepancy between the rally’s supplementary regulations and the FIA’s WRC sporting regulations causing conflict.
“Due to the ambiguity of supplementary regulations article 12.7 covering flexi service, which states that all provisions of 2022 FIA WRC sporting regulations article 59 are to be followed, there is an area of confusion between SRs article 12.7 and 2022 FIA WRC sporting regulations articles 59.2 and 59.3,” read the decision.
“Competitor #23 followed the provisions stated in 2022 FIA WRC sporting regulations article 59.3 and no sporting advantage was gained through the action they took.
“The stewards therefore decide to cancel the above mentioned time penalty for car #23 from TC8B –Monaco – technical zone out – flexi-service in.”
After the stewards’ decision Rossel had been restored to only 18s behind Mikkelsen, though that increased to 22.9s as his Citroën C3 Rally2 suffered a front-right puncture on the second pass of Saint-Jeannet / Malijai.
“I am so disappointed,” he said. “Honestly it’s not perfect but I don’t lose too much time. We will see after. I think we can get lots of time on the next stage.”
There was also drama for Bulacia on the same test, as he dropped almost three minutes with white smoke billowing out the rear of his Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
Bulacia’s woes promoted Erik Cais to the final podium place. Cais has half a minute in hand over Grégoire Munster in fourth.