The final countdown has begun: Monte Carlo Rally pre-event testing started on Sunday. The race to round one is coming to a close.
In 11 days the entire 2022 World Rally Championship field will assemble in Monaco’s Casino Square ready for the start of a whole new adventure. And the final week and a bit before hybrid Rally1 cars officially land into the world championship will be just as busy as the last six months.
Toyota and Hyundai are first to return to the Gap area for set-up tests ahead of the January 20-23 French Alps event.
M-Sport lands into the mountains on Tuesday, when Adrien Fourmaux runs the test Puma Rally1 Hybrid. His team-mates Craig Breen and Gus Greensmith follow on consecutive days. The Puma will then be re-prepared ahead of Sébastien Loeb’s test day on Sunday January 16 – just two days after he completes the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Following the pre-event tests, the crews will all head east to Austria and the Salzburg WRC launch in Red Bull’s Hangar-7 on Saturday evening. That done, it’s west again through Sunday for a Monday morning start to the Monte Carlo recce.
After three days of making notes it’s shakedown on Thursday morning, over the ramp outside the Casino in the afternoon and then into the season’s first stage that evening.
M-Sport Ford team leader Breen told DirtFish: “This is it. One more test, one more day and then we’re into it. I’ve got to be honest, I can’t wait. I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time and now it’s here. This team has worked so hard and built this amazing, amazing car with Ford.”
Breen’s boss at M-Sport, Richard Millener, added: “We’re getting there now, aren’t we? I think all the teams will be glad to get to Monte and get on with it – the last six months or so has been hard work and the hard work’s not going to stop any time soon.
“I’m really looking forward to the launch on Saturday – it’s great to have a real sense of occasion for the start of the year – and then we’re straight into it.”