The unpredictable one.
The Rally Monte Carlo counts as one of the asphalt runs in the world championship and weaves its way south from the start line in the Ardèche city of Valence towards the glamorous principality of Monaco. You’d think that it was all quite doable. However, the ‘Monte’ provides a unique mix of snow, ice, rain and dry asphalt – the weather conditions are unpredictable to say the least. Even if the sun is shining in the service park, it may already be snowing in the mountains and on the roads. As if this mixture weren’t demanding enough, the surface conditions often alternate within a single special stage, depending on the weather. A tricky challenge for the drivers! Selecting the right tyres is an eternal balancing act.
Date: 21 till 24 January 2016.
There’s a group of people who are often overlooked during a rally, and that’s the co-drivers. They are, of course, unjustly overlooked, because rallying is a team sport, and without a co-driver’s very quick instructions, it would be impossible for a driver to drive a WRC vehicle at high speed. After all, you’re sure to run into trouble if you’re driving at 160 km/h without any idea of whether you need to steer left or right after the next corner.
Julien Ingrassia about the Rally Monte Carlo.
What’s different about Rally Monte Carlo?
Apart from anything else, the ‘Monte’ is special because of its priority position – when you think about rallying, it’s Rally Monte Carlo that comes to mind first, even before Finland or Greece. It’s also a particular challenge for the drivers and co-drivers alike. The ever-changing conditions during the rally are really demanding. It’s also a long rally in terms of time and it goes through four different regions of France. And it’s the first rally of the year, so it’s the first time we are put to the test. Is your own car good enough and what are the competition like? You find out in the ‘Monte’.
What do you have to pay particular attention to in Rally Monte Carlo?
Most of all, it’s the ever-changing conditions. You go round a corner that takes you from the north to the south side of a mountain and you suddenly go from being on dry asphalt to driving on ice and snow. So obviously your choice of tyres has a major part to play here. You also have to adopt an especially foresighted style of driving and get into a good rhythm.
What has been your finest moment in Rally Monte Carlo?
That’s got to be 2013, when we proved that we were stiff competition right from the start with the entirely new Polo R WRC. At the end of the rally, we were second in the overall standings, but we felt like we had won. The whole of the team was absolutely delighted. It was just brilliant. Of course one year later feelings were even better, when we snatched victory in the Polo.
And what about your worst moment in Rally Monte Carlo?
Our accident in the Škoda Fabia S2000 in 2012. That was the worst crash I’ve ever been in. We were driving at 160 km/h. I wasn’t seriously injured, but my knees, arms and shoulders really hurt.