When one sits back and considers the build-up to the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally and the first step into the new generation of Hybrid Rally cars, deep down we all kinda knew that the Puma offering from M-Sport Ford was always going to be a good package, didn’t we?
The third day of the Rallye of Monte Carlo resumed on Saturday morning in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and featured 5 stages covering 92km; the second full day of action would once again go without a mid-day service opportunity. With the shortened Sisteron Stage (Saint-Geniez – Thoard) billed as the one to watch, this stage delivered ample drama on its first run alone.
Overnight rally leader Sébastien Ogier led the field north of Monaco to the area around the Mercantour National Park in the Alps for a further 6 stages totalling at just under 98km. The stages featured on the second leg of the rally were typical Southern France tests: Roure – Beuil (SS3/6) at 18km, Guillaumes – Péone – Valberg (SS4/7) at 13km and Val-de-Chalvagne – Entrevaux (SS5/8) at 17km.
The 90th edition of the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo got underway in the darkness of the mountains to the north on Monaco with the first of two night stages. SS1 Lucéram – Lantosque at 15km in length took the honours for opening up the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season, in this all-new Hybrid technological era.
To the North of Monaco, on a short 2.29km stretch of road between the villages of Sainte Agnes and Peille; the new generation of Hybrid Rally1 World Rally cars finally got to compare one another’s performance for the first time at the Rallye Monte Carlo Pre Event Shakedown.
It was another early start for the crews who now faced the typical Monte like conditions that we were expecting. The first test of the day was an 18km stage SS9 La Bréole – Selonnet 1, where parts of the stage would feel familiar from previous years. From the start, it climbed up to its highest point at about 5km in with a decent amount of snow and ice throughout; but it was at the end of the stage which was particularly bad; so it was a full set of studded winter tyres all around. The road order had now been reversed for today so perhaps offered up a bit of shake-up for the road conditions.
The second day of the Monte Carlo Rally started in the darkness early Friday morning with a 19km stage: SS3 – Asperemont – Le Batie-des-Fonts. A stage which was last used in 2019, it climbs to the top of a Col where at around 12-14km into the stage a 4km surprise in the form of patches of shiny ice awaited the crews; before an interesting decent tiptoeing back down towards the finish.
It has been some 46 days from when we saw Sebastian Ogier take he’s 7th World Rally Drivers title at The Rally Monza in December last year; which brought a close to a torrid 2020 World Rally season. Since then, in the passing weeks, The FIA World Rally Championships has already faced similar challenges before a competitive wheel had even been turned.
But finally, the hills (or should we say the Alpes?) are alive to the sound of horsepower once again as the Rallye Monte Carlo got underway from its host town of GAP, France.