The FIA World Rally Championship is in the middle of the opening round of its 2022 season, the 90th Rallye Monte Carlo. While this iconic event has been proclaimed as the start of a new era with the introduction of a new hybrid ruleset into the WRC, so far, the rally has been a duel between two legendary drivers in semi-retirement. Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier, with a combined 17 World Rally Championships between them, have so far bested the category’s full-time competitors this weekend.
The two Sébastiens just finishing stages have played a significant factor in the rally’s standings as many of their rivals have fallen by the wayside. On Friday morning, M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux literally fell by the wayside during the third stage. As Fourmaux approached a quick left-hand corner leading into a more severe right-hander, he misjudged the corner, and things quickly escalated.
Fourmaux carried too much speed through the left-hander and pushed his Ford Puma wide into an embankment on the right side of the road. The impact pitched the Puma into a roll and threw the hybrid rally car over an Armco barrier on the opposite side. The Ford Puma flew down the mountainside and came to rest at the bottom of a ravine. Both Fourmaux and his co-driver Alexandre Coria were able to exit the crashed car, seemingly unharmed. The M-Sport Ford Puma was destroyed in the incident, but the safety cell strengthened in the new regulations did its job.
Fourmaux’s plunge isn’t the first time a rough ride into a ravine tested a new Rally1 safety cell. During winter weather testing in Alsace, France, Thierry Neuville sent his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 in a ravine. The safety cell held up in the incident, but co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe injured his shoulder in the crash. Wydaeghe recovered from his injury and is alongside Neuville at Monte Carlo in the cockpit. Time will tell which Sébastien, Loeb or Ogier, will leave Monte Carlo with the overall victory.