1: Ogier won’t slow down
His Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia might not pack the same amount of power as the Citroen World Rally Car he drove in 2011 but Sebastien Ogier will be a threat for WRC points throughout the season judging by his speed on Rallye Monte-Carlo. The French ace, a long-term Volkswagen Motorsport signing, ultimately crashed into retirement but not before he’d set a third-fastest stage time and run as high as fourth in the overall classification.
2: Petter hasn’t lost it
Back in a factory seat after spending three seasons as a privateer, Solberg was quickly on the pace despite his limited experience behind the wheel of Ford’s Fiesta RS WRC and on an event he’s never truly relished. The Norwegian was fastest on three stages and took the final spot on the podium. If he can build on that impressive start then a first win since 2005 is surely just around the corner.
3: The future is bright
Changeable weather and a gruelling five-day format created a huge test for the crews on Rallye Monte-Carlo. Despite this there were several standout performances by a number of the sport’s rising stars with Evgeny Novikov (fifth overall), Pierre Campana (seventh), Kevin Abbring (12th) and Craig Breen (14th) all showing huge promise. Mathieu Arzeno (sixth fastest on stage two, Burzet) and Thierry Neuville (fifth quickest on stage three, Le Moulinon) also impressed.
4: Loeb won’t have it easy
While Jari-Matti Latvala’s challenge lasted for less than four stages, the factory Ford driver was leading by more than 30 second when he crashed out, proof that Sebastien Loeb’s quest for a ninth world crown won’t be a foregone conclusion, despite his commanding winning margin and his capture of three bonus points for going fastest on the rally-closing Power Stage.
5: MINI will be a threat
MINI has yet to announce its final schedule for 2012 but the factory team is set to run at the front whenever it does appear judging by the competitiveness of the John Cooper Works WRC on Rallye Monte-Carlo. Dani Sordo’s capture of second place was his third podium in seven starts for the team and with a number of improvements planned to car and engine over the coming months the performances will only get better as the year progresses.