Stuart Loudon-clear guide to Rallye Monte-Carlo

Stuart Loudon-clear guide to Rallye Monte-Carlo

19.01.2018: If you thought last year was good… Watch this. The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship has all the makings of an absolute classic. I know everybody said that about last year, and it was. But this year looks like it’s going to be even closer

If you thought last year was good…
 



Watch this. The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship has all the makings of an absolute classic. I know everybody said that about last year, and it was. But this year looks like it’s going to be even closer. The teams are all confident, they’ve got reliable cars and there’s not one crew among the factory runners that doesn’t have the pace and potential to win in the French Alps this week.
 


Looking further ahead, there’s so much to be excited about in 2018 – there’s already stacks of snow in Sweden, for example. Rally Mexico’s going underground in Guanajuato again and the Tour de Corse will explore roads not used for 20 years. All that in the first four rounds.
 


But the focus now is on next week, round one of chapter two in world rallying’s fantastic new generation.
 
 


2017 Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo result:



WRC: 1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4h00.03m.06s; 2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m.15.0s 3 Ott Tänak.Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m57.8s WRC2: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (Škoda Fabia R5) WRC3: Raphaël Astier/Frédéric Vauclare (Peugeot 208 R2)
 



Leading entries:



1 Sebastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC
2 Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Dan Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC
3 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Jerome Degout (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
5 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
6 Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
7 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
8 Ott Tanak (EST)/Martin Jarveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC
9 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
10 Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroen C3 WRC
11 Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Citroen C3 WRC
31 Eric Camilli (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5
32 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) Skoda Fabia R5
33 Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5
34 Kevin Abbring (NLD)/Pieter Tsjoen (NLD) Ford Fiesta R5
35 Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Louis Louka (BEL) Peugeot 208 T16
36 Eddie Sciessere (ITA)/Flavio Zanella (ITA) DS 3 R5
 





Stuart Loudon’s key stage: SS1 Thoard-Sisteron 36.69km (22.79 miles)



Everybody knows of the legend of Sisteron. Everybody’s got a story about this stage. But this year there will be new stories to tell; for the first time ever in the World Rally Championship the cars will be running in the opposite direction, starting from Thoard. And, just to add to the excitement of this longest stage of the event, it’s Sisteron that gets the 2018 season underway on Thursday night.
 


The whole world will be watching and waiting for 2143 when Séb and Julien will drop the clutch on the #1 Ford Fiesta WRC to start the defence of their World Rally Championship.
 


Regardless of the direction of SS1, there will still be plenty of snow and ice on the Col de Font-Belle at 1304 metres and the last 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the stage will be all downhill – the dash down the D3 towards the left-hander into the village of Authon will be particularly interesting!
 


Stuart will be watching… #Everybody



It’s impossible to pick out one particular crew for this first round. Of course, there will be a close eye on Séb and Julien to see if they can repeat their flying start to last season. But there’s interest up and down the order and in every team. It’s great to see Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt right up there in the second of those gorgeous-looking Ford Fiesta WRCs and then there’s Ott Tänak’s move to Toyota: how will he fare in the Yaris WRC?



Can Thierry Neuville finish what he started last year for Hyundai? Or will his Monaco neighbour and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen step up and cast him into shadow on round one?
 


Then there’s Citroën where new team principal Pierre Budar will have had a week in the job when he arrives in the Alps, talk about a baptism of fire… But the C3 WRC looks a very different prospect to 12 months ago. The team has worked incredibly hard to iron out the creases this rally exposed in 2017 and Kris and Paul and Craig and Scott are all well capable of fighting at the front.
 


Further down the field there’s Kalle Rovanperä’s factory debut for Skoda Motorsport, but sadly this year no booming Porsche 911 GT3 for Romain Dumas. 
 


Weather with you:



The heavy snow and cold temperatures of earlier this month look to have moved away and rally week is expected to offer some sunshine and temperatures around five degrees in Gap, with those values rising to the mid-teens for the weekend in Monaco. 
 



Most successful driver on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo:


Sébastien Loeb (7 wins)
 



And finally… some facts about Monaco:

 

•    Fish is Monaco’s only natural resource
 

•    Monaco has the highest life expectancy of anywhere in the world at 89.5 years
 

•    Three Bond films (Never say never again; Goldeneye and Casino Royale) have been filmed in Monaco
 

•    Almost 30 per cent of Monaco’s population are millionaires
 

•    Monaco’s the world’s second smallest country (behind the Vatican City) at 1.24 square miles – and 20 per cent of that has been reclaimed from the sea
 
 



Sandra Evans -  also photo

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19.01.2018 / MaP

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