Round 1 of the WRC Monte-Carlo
After Thursday evening’s glamorous Monte-Carlo start in Casino Square, two tough stages in darkness in the Alps punctuate the run up to Gap.
Two loops of three tests north of the town form a compact but lengthy Friday, which contains 160km of against-the-clock action.
Equally gruelling third leg on Saturday features five more stages near Gap, before the last service of the rally there and a long journey back to Monaco.
Sunday’s finale, as is traditional, runs in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above the Principality and features two passes over the legendary Col de Turini.
Essentially an asphalt rally but unpredictable mountain weather brings varied conditions.
Competitors must expect snow, ice and dry asphalt – often encountering all in the same stage.
They must balance the need for grip in winter weather with that required for dry asphalt.
Shrewd tyre selection providing the best compromise for frequently changing conditions is key.
Experience and the ability to ‘read’ conditions is vital.
Wacky tyre selections which can include studded tyres on opposite corners of the car, matched with dry weather rubber. Two spare tyres is normal.
Additional light pods for Thursday’s night stages.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the WRC’s jewel in the crown and the oldest in the calendar.
First run in 1911, it was designed to promote Monte-Carlo as a tourist destination, with competitors starting from different European cities before gathering in Monaco.
The 1966 rally became famed for its controversial outcome when giant-killing Mini Coopers claimed the top three places before being disqualified for alleged infringements of headlight regulations.
What’s new for 2017
More than 85 per cent of the route will be new compared to 2016. No service on Sunday morning. The final opportunity to tweak cars wil
l be in Gap on Saturday afternoon, with a tyre fitting zone in Monaco before Sunday’s action.
Sunday afternoon’s live TV Power Stage will offer bonus points to the five fastest drivers for the first time.
The 2017 World Rally Cars! It’s the first opportunity to see the more powerful, bigger and more aggressive new-era cars on the stages.
Col de Turini. One of the sport’s iconic locations, where enormous crowds will gather to watch competitors cross the mountain summit in the La Bollene Vesubie – Peira Cava test in the final leg. An incredible atmosphere and a ‘must-do’ for visitors.
Sunday’s finish outside the Palace in Monaco, with monarch Prince Albert presenting the prizes.