After 3 years away from the World Stage The classic Rallye Monte Carlo is finally back where it belongs in the World Rally championship, opening up the season for 2012.
Over the winter, there has been a lot of issues and politics with the sport in crisis. But Finally all that is sorted and we can get back to racing. With politics comes big changes. First of all, the new promoters and rights holder of the WRC is Eurosport. Taking over from North One Sport just last week and will be showing highlights on TV throughout the week. In terms of drivers & teams, its also been a big mix up. In Citroen, driving DS3’s is 8 Times Champion Sebastien Loeb, who will be teaming up with his biggest rival and ex Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen, replacing that of Sebastien Ogier who has moved over to VW. Hirvonen will take the number 2 position in the team. Ogier will spend 2012 developing the VW Polo and driving the Skoda in S2000. Also in a Citroen DS3 will be star Thierry Neuville, and privateer Peter Van Merkstijn. Mini will also be there with their driver Dani Sordo. But due to lack of funds, the team have had to ditch Kris Meeke, instead for this event they Pierre campana.
Over in the Ford World Rally Team and taking the number 1 spot in the team will be their flying fin Jari Matti Latvala. Replacing Hirvonen will be Petter Solberg, who finally joins a factory team after Subaru left the sport way back in 2008. In the M-Sport team will be Ott Tanak, Evgeny Novikov and making a return to WRC, Francois Delecour.
It was also confirmed just after shakedown this morning that ex Stobart drivers Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg will be driving for Go Fast World Rally Team as part of the M-Sport squad.
The 2012 Monte Carlo rally will kick in Valence on Wednesday, 18 January and finish in Monaco on Sunday 22 January. Thats 5 days of rally action! The rally will take the competitors through the Ardèche, Vercors and Alpes-Maritimes regions. With a total of 430km over 18 special stages. With classic stages such as Le Moulinon, Saint-Bonnet-le- Froid, and the famous Col du Turini this year rally will really put the drivers & teams to the test. One of the biggest things to watch out for and could be the deciding factor of the rally, are the weather conditions. Anything from sunny skies, to inches of snow, the drivers will have to rely on their teams weather reports to decide which of the 5 tyre choices to go for.
Sebastien Loeb has won this event 5 times in the past, and is feeling confident about the season opener and happy to have the event back in the championship. “For me, it’s a no-brainer: the Rallye Monte-Carlo has to be in the World Championship. It is
the world’s most famous rally; you just can’t have a world championship without it! It’s also a rally where I have always done well. The roads are very enjoyable to drive and there is always a great roadside atmosphere for the special stages. And let’s not forget this is Daniel’s home rally. I’m sure he’d rather be on my right in the DS3 WRC than behind the wheel of a DS3 R3 like last year!”
But on such an unpredictable event, almost anything can happen and very often has done. For all the end of day results and news over the next 5 days, visit Insiderally.com.