Friday | 15 Jan 2021

French mountains echo to Monte-Carlo testing

The French Alps have been alive to the sound of World Rally Cars preparing for next week’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (21 - 24 January) with the series’ big names looking to fine tune their cars ahead of the Gap-based classic.

Hyundai Motorsport and Toyota Gazoo Racing began their preparations with some early running last month. Both teams made the most of early season snow to dial their cars into the all-new range of Pirelli tyres.

The last week has been about finding slightly less wintry conditions to discover how the Italian rubber is working on drier asphalt.

Hyundai’s Ott Tänak was pleased with his time on the racers, saying: “OK, we need to find out more about the Tarmac [driving on these tyres], but the slick seemed to perform quite well.

“It’s early to tell so much about the tyre. Definitely we need some more time. I had one day for the test [in December] when it was slush and melting snow, demanding conditions where it’s difficult to find the limit of the tyre. It’s going to take time to learn because, for sure, the tyres are different.”

Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo magazine

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans was confident in the Pirelli performance in a certain window of conditions, but admitted they would take time to get used to after running Michelins in recent seasons.

He said: “The tyres are different from what we’ve been used to and it’s going to be interesting to see how they work in different conditions.

“The super soft tyre is still super soft and the winter tyre with studs is still a winter tyre with studs, but what we don’t know is what window they will work in.

“We don’t know, for example, how they’ll work as a combination of tyres across a loop of stages where the first one is snow and the second one has mixed conditions.

Teams have been focused on sampling Pirelli's new tyres

“Because these are new for us, it’ll take time to understand the tyres in the evolving conditions. But, in certain conditions, I think the Pirelli will be more suitable,” added the Welshman.

Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier had the second day of his test cut short when he crashed the test Yaris just east of Gap on Wednesday. Co-driver Julien Ingrassia went to hospital for checks but was given a clean bill of health.

While the crash had a significant impact on Ogier’s preparations, it didn’t affect his team-mates. Evans was in the car last weekend, with Kalle Rovanperä driving on Monday. Takamoto Katsuta completed a two-day test last month.

Teams return for final pre-Monte tyre test

Teams return for final pre-Monte ...

Manufacturer teams will be back in the French mountains next week for a final round of Pirelli tyre testing ahead of the FIA ...

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M-Sport Ford didn’t test before Christmas so Teemu Suninen kicked off the British squad’s running on Thursday, with Gus Greensmith in the Fiesta on Friday. Both will have another day each this weekend.

• Full coverage from Rallye Monte-Carlo will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.