24 Jan 08
SS1: Saint Jean-en-Royans - Col de la Chau.
The first stage of every rally is difficult - and that's especially true of the very first stage of a new year - but this one is extra special because we'll be driving it in the dark! It's generally a wide, smooth and fast stage. At the 17km point, when we're nearing the ski resort at Font d'Urle, there are snow banks next to the road about one metre deep. The asphalt itself was clear during the recce, but when the spectators are there I imagine some snow will make it onto the road. As we tackle the stage at night, ice will be a possibility too. It's a challenging rally opener and you really need to be switched on. If you take it too cautiously, you can forget doing well on this rally.
SS2: La Cime du Mas - Col de Gaudissart.
The second and final stage of day one has a similar character to SS1. We're still in darkness, and we start off on some nice, smooth and flowing sections which are very fast, but then, at around the midpoint, it becomes narrower, twistier and the asphalt is rougher and broken in places. The forestry trucks that use this road have left it very dirty and slippery in places, and there are more snow banks at the top of the Col. On the whole it's little easier than SS1 - but not much.