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RS12: Lancia again, ahead of Austin

It was a rather unexpected pairing that emerged at the top of the penalty sheets in the RS12 which brought Monday to a close: Lancia, this time with the Beta Coupé 1800 of Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda (#2), and Austin, with the Mini Cooper S of Thomas Bauchet and Vincent Kerhard (#219). 

The final drive of the day saw Lancia add one point for Italy in the big fight against German brands, adding a 3rd win to its record of SR victories in this 26th edition of Rallye Monte Carlo Historique. Austin also put his name at the top of the board for the first time this year, on the 15.9km route between Recoubeau-Jansac and Pennes le Sec, both in the Drôme Provençale area.

It was a fine end to Day 2 of the Common Leg, narrowly edging out two crews from Eastern Europe who were rather unexpected at such a high level: Andrei Ponomarev and Victor Polyakov in a 1978 VW Golf GTi, Hungary’s Tamas Pasztor and Peter Majoshazi in a 1964 Fiat 2300 S Coupé. Just behind them, the two young Frenchmen in an Alfa Romeo GTV, Jules Picoreau and Camille Béal, again picked up valuable points for the overall classification.

With 12 of the 17 special stages completed, and only five left to go on Tuesday, the suspense is total as the gaps are very small. The leaders are still Belgium’s Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo, in their Opel Ascona in Radio Monte-Carlo livery, ahead of Italy’s Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino (Austin Mini Cooper S) and, on the provisional podium, the Picoreau-Béal duo in their beautiful Alfa GTV. All grouped together in just 160 points. Watch out, as Tuesday will be decisive…

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