Thirty years after Ari’s win, another Vatanen is about to participate in the legendary Rally Monte Carlo… His son, Max, has opted for Team Automeca – Florajet for this big challenge as part of the World Rally Championship. Manu Guigou and Jean-Michel Astier’s team will enter a total of five cars: two Renault Sport hired from Franck Sias and Lorenzo Fabiani and three other customer cars supported by the team.
To launch this 2015 season, Automeca will be operating five cars during the Rally Monte Carlo. The team, based in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, will enjoy a 500m² space at the service park of the most legendary round of the discipline.
“We’re very proud to have five cars at the start of the Monte-Carlo”, Manu Guigou comments. “It’s a very special round. You shouldn’t start too fast because pitfalls could be awaiting you at every corner. We’re preparing our rally in the best way possible with practice sessions and specific set-ups for each driver. I’m sharing my experience to support our customers in meeting their objectives. I’m trying to remain close to them, before and during the rally, bringing my knowledge.”
Franck Sias / Jean-François Gastinel – Renault Clio R3T
R2 class winner at the 2014 Monte-Carlo, Franck Sias will move up a class this season. He will be able to compete against Junior World Championship drivers and will count on the support and advice of Manu Guigou who is already familiar with the Clio R3T.
“It’s a legendary race. My co-driver and I have been at the heart of Monte-Carlo special stages since we’re little. We’re experienced on this very specific ground. Following on a R2 win in 2014, we’re now moving up a class. Our objective is to simply have a good time and enjoy. Results will come.”
Used to big rallies, the Italian driver has already taken part in the Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse. Lorenzo Fabiani has competed for Automeca before and wanted to renew that experience to begin this 2015 season.
“Participating in this rally is both a dream and a challenge for me. The Monte-Carlo is a very long race, particularly complicated with the weather. With the Rallye d’Antibes and the Tour de Corse, the Monte-Carlo is now another of my favorite competitions. I love driving in France. My aim is to go all the way until the end. Obviously I hope to drive well but first and foremost I want to cross the finish line. I’m very happy to participate in this rally with Automeca and Cédric Amoros.”
Thirty years after his father’s win, Ari Vatanen, the young Max (25 years old) will be at the start of the Rally Monte Carlo. With a fourth-place finish in the Fiesta Trophy last year, it will be his first start ever in the Principality.
“It’s a very special event for my family. Thirty years ago my dad won one of the most important rallies of his career, overcoming an eight-minute penalty. I know that Monte-Carlo is a complicated rally. But I’ve been preparing myself just like for every other races. I’ll drive with my head. Asphalt isn’t the surface that I have got the most experience on. I need to be humble. It’s a long rally and the objective is to cross the finish line and gain experience. I’m looking forward to being there and I’m happy to drive for Automeca.”
Second-place finish in R2 at the preceding edition, on board a Twingo R2, and for its first participation, Florent Joly returns to the Monte-Carlo with another car. In 2015 he will be at the wheel of a C2-R2 MAX.
“It’s the most legendary race of the World Championship as well as one of the most complicated ones. Many great champions have never won on these roads. Both weather and surface change constantly. I have to finish the rally and I want to try to improve from 2014. Last year we finished second in R2. If we can fight for a win in class, we won’t be shy to do so!”
After a first go in 2012 with a Lancer Evolution, Jean-Luc Taormina returns to the Monte-Carlo to take part in one of his dream rallies. He will be at the wheel of a Peugeot 208 R2.
“I used to go and see the Rally Monte-Carlo when I was younger. I would have never imagined, at that time, taking part in such an event one day! I had a first go in 2012. I’d been forced to withdraw because of an ice patch. I’m approaching this rally differently this time. I’m happy to take part in it and I want to go all the way to the finish line. Rankings isn’t the most important thing, though I’d love to achieve a good place in R2. Having an experience of one of the greatest rallies of the World Championship is mainly what I’m after.”