Oh yes, the World Rally Championship is back. Granted, it was only away for 45 days, and Thursday’s opening leg of the Monte Carlo Rally only consisted of two stages, but we’re still stoked to be watching the world’s finest drivers back in action again.
In keeping with every other day’s plan, the Friday itinerary is shorter than in years gone by, with only three different tests for the crews to handle and a lunchtime finish in the Alps.
But don’t be deceived – there will still be plenty of opportunities for the crews to slip up, as WRC2 co-driver Alex Kihurani explains.
SS3/6 Aspremont – La Bâtie-des-Fonts (12.18 miles)
It starts out fairly flat and smooth and then gets a bit more twisty and technical, but the big feature is that the the second half of the stage is full snow. The road hasn’t really been ploughed so there are big snow banks on both sides, and there are lots of sweeping but slow corners as you descend down the mountain. Some of it may melt, but a lot of it will still be there.
SS4/7 Chalancon – Gumiane (13.43 miles)
Probably the second trickiest stage of the rally. There are lots of sharp corners on a narrow road with lots of cuts, so it’s really busy as you climb up the hill before turning left and making the descent with lots of narrow switchback hairpins on the cliffside. You then enter a nice double-width, fast and flowing section that continues to the end.
SS5 Montauban-sur-l’Ouvèze – Villebois-les-Pins 1 (13.82 miles)
Fairly straightforward climb up the hill at the beginning on a smooth road with a good flow. On the descent it starts getting a bit snowy but it’s mostly dried up. At the end the stage starts getting busier and feels more like SS4/7 with lots of up and down, bumpy twisty corners. The finish is pretty crazy with a right-left jump, then you get on the brakes hard when you land to make a right-turn into the main street of the town.