I know its 3 weeks away, but the teams have already started to prepare a couple of weeks ago. In Monte Carlo, we will see the VW Polo WRC car racing for the first time, and they have done a couple of tests already (one of which resulted in a collision with a normal car on the closed roads in Mexico http://www.6righttightens.com/jari-matti-latvala-in-accident-with-civilian-while-testing-in-mexico/….).
And while it looked for a while like there might have been a different winner this year, Sebastien Loeb has confirmed that Monte Carlo is on the schedule of the four races he will enter this season (He has won this rally 6 times, and his lowest ever position here in a WRC car is 2nd).
Citroen seem to be the favorites coming into this rally, with 3 very strong drivers (Sebastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo) all of which have had some great performances in Monte Carlo. It seems that the battle will be between these three team mates for the win next month. Sordo recorded Mini’s highest finish last season in Monte Carlo, with a second place.
After Ford’s decision to pull the plug on factory support of the WRC program, M-Sport has confirmed that Mads Ostberg will be there main driver, with the Russian Evgeny Novikov partnering him for all rounds of the WRC. Both of these drivers began to show their potential last season, however they have been rather inconsistent, particularly Novikov, who has finished as high as second last season (twice), but also saw several retirements and very low finishes. Ostberg earned his first WRC win last year, and after being promoted to the number one spot for Ford, will surely look to score well here this year. This will be his first start in Monte Carlo. Also entering all rounds of the season will be the Qatar World Rally Team, with Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville in M-Sport prepared Ford Fiestas.
Still, the strongest fight against the Citroens may come from VW, with two great drivers (Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier), although they have said that they don’t expect to be immediate favorites. Still, Ogier is very quick on tarmac, and he almost recorded the highest ever finishing position last year in Monte Carlo for an S2000 car, before having a high speed accident on the Lamastre–Gilhoc–Alboussière stage.
Also entering are Poland’s Michal Koscuszko in a Mini WRC car, as well as Bryan Bouffier of France in a Citroen DS3 and Julien Maurin and Martin Prokop (France, Czech Republic) in a Ford Fiesta.
While you wait for the for the rally, here is some pre-season testing footage from Monte Carlo.
Ogier, Latvala, VW Polo:
Loeb, Hirvonen, Citroen DS3:
Ostberg, Novikov, Haninen, Ford Fiesta:
And finally, the 2012 Rally Monte Carlo review:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P6fG_rHgUk (Pt. 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1m7LRLYi9c (Pt. 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMMcbxa1Vh4 (Pt. 3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIp7I-H_ufM (Pt. 4)
Hopefully this will fill your time between now and the first stage in about 3 weeks time.