RALLYE MONTE CARLO – Jan 2005, Round 1
The traditional season opener over the ice strewn mountain roads of the Alps Maritime in France, Monte Carlo is a true classic. Hosted by the dramatic principality of Monaco the rally is draped in more history than any other in the calendar.
Monte Carlo is always a formidable challenge due to the ever-changing weather and road conditions – ranging from dry asphalt to snow and ice. Spectating can be tremendous with friendly rivalry amongst the French, Spanish and Italian crowd adding to the atmosphere. The Friday stages near Gap are easy to access and often covered in snow and ice. The stages nearer to Monte Carlo provide stunning action and frequently the drama of the rally unfolds on the infamous Col de Turini stage.
With 5-8km of snow on the climb to the summit and dry asphalt on the descent, tyre choice is crucial for this 33km stage that is tackled twice during the weekend.
Hat-trick for Loeb?
The close season of only ten weeks will see many changes to drivers, teams and car developments, raising interest levels and unpredictability of the event still further. The un-predictable road conditions favours drivers who have faced the unique challenge of the Monte over a number of years.
Sebastian Loeb has won the two previous Montes (almost at will) capitalising on his knowledge of the stages that played host to his formative rally years. The most likely challenger will be Martin or Gronholm who have proved to be the nearest challengers over the past two years.