A new year – a new season. Rallye Monte-Carlo kicks it off!

Published: 24.01.18 Text: OneBet Photos: Red Bull Content Pool
Categorised in: / RALLYE MONTE-CARLO
Will we see the usual suspects on the podium, or will the classic WRC season starter spot new talent? In the relentlessly unpredictable Rallye Monte-Carlo, only time (and tyres) will tell!

Rallye Monte-Carlo is well known to motorsport enthusiasts for it’s extremely varying conditions. For the drivers, this is a chance to get a head start, and it all comes down to the tactics of tyre choices.

Not only does the Rallye Monte-Carlo kick off a long-awaited WRC season; it is the only event to be arranged on snow and ice with a tarmac base. Now, the teams have a choice of four tyres: Slicks with soft or super soft compound or the winter tyre with or without studs.

Challenging, as always.

The conditions is expected to be challenging, with a blend of classic Rallye Monte-Carlo stages and fresh choices. It will be real interesting to see how weather conditions and altitude differences play into the tyre tactics. The trade-off is of course speed vs. grip.

Already at the finish of stage one we’re at an altitude of 516 meters. Later in the stages (SS10/12, Saint-Léger-les-Mélèzes – La Bâtie-Neuve) the drivers will actually be passing through a ski resort (!) at stunning 1.600 meters above sea level where we definitely will see some harsh winter conditions. So yes, it will be down to tactics. Again. And that’s why we love Rally Monte-Carlo.

Let’s run through some of the drivers:

Ogier

5 times winner (1 IRC, 4 consecutive WRCs, 2014–2017) – no one from the starting list has better statistics than him. Let’s not forget that his home town, Gap, is where the rally is based, a clear advantage! Some considered last years performance against Neuville as poor, but we’re not sure we agree. He was in lack of time with the preparation of his new Fiesta, and a single mistake on the opening stage cost him more than 40 seconds. Ogier remains the biggest favourite this year also.

Evans

Four starts in Rallye Monte-Carlo but no top 5 yet. Still, he had the fastest times last year on the stages with dry tarmac. We can expect a consistent performance from him – but will it be enough for top 5, or even podium?

Bouffier

He hasn’t shown consistent performances over the last years. In 2017 he drove Fiesta R5. His first start with the new generation WRC car will be this year, so we have no big expectations for overall results. With that being said, his local knowledge may secure him some stage wins.

Neuville

What a performance last year! Until a small mistake probably cost him his victory… Not the best statistics, though: 7 starts, 5 wheel off, 1 podium. Can he survive this year? If so, we expect him high on the results list.

Mikkelsen

2017 was troublesome for Mikkelsen following the 2016 Volkswagen exit. But he kept in shape and bagged podium for both WRC and WRC2. This year he is on the Hyundai team. The big question mark is: Will he fully master his new car? He has uttered that he still has to get used to driving it on tarmac, although gravel seems fine. Hard to make a prediction here. A «dark horse», maybe?

Sordo

Three podiums from the past and a lot of Rallye Monte-Carlo experience… After the power steering failure last year, he lost 1 minute – still he finished 4th, 38 seconds behind podium. A very confident and fast driver on dry, not so much on snowy, icy and tricky conditions.

Latvala

Strong performances in the past – his first podium for Toyota last year. Latvala knows he has to stay consistent, and we’re not sure he will fight for the win in this rally. But he’s a candidate for the podium or at least some strong stage times.

Tanak

His first rally with new car at Rallye Monte-Carlo. We’d think he is more eager to earn good points at this rally and will not be expecting him to fight for the top positions. Still, if everything runs smoothly and he avoids problems, a podium is possible.

Lappi

His first Rallye Monte-Carlo in a WRC car, and his WRC2 statistics are not too bright. We believe his best performances will come in the second half of the season. But like always, he might surprise and deliver some stage wins.

Meeke

Not counting junior starts, he has done Rallye Monte-Carlo 6 times, 5 times retired and one podium finish. But let’s not forget his strong performances on dry tarmac with C3 WRC. A double edged sword; if he keeps on track and stays out of trouble he can be a favourite for the win!

Breen

Only 3 starts and a no-start with the new generation of WRC cars. But his performances with the older WRC specifications from last year were promising. If he can show those skills in the new car he’s a clear top 5 or podium candidate.

Watch: Mads Østberg shares his inside info before Rallye Monte-Carlo