Although the asphalt roads are relatively straight-forward, drivers can encounter snow, ice, wet and dry conditions in the same special stage – putting an emphasis on cunning tyre choices in the search for maximum grip.
French curfew rules have obliged organisers to revise the original schedule. That means very early starts on two days, with stages running before dawn, and early finishes.
The action begins on Thursday afternoon. After a lunchtime start in the host town of Gap, the Saint-Disdier – Corps (20.58km) and Saint-Maurice – Saint-Bonnet (20.78km) tests in the Hautes-Alpes and Isère departments provide a tough appetiser.
Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo route
Friday hosts the ‘meat’ of the rally with almost 105km of competition across five new stages west of Gap. The action kicks off before dawn at 06.10. Temperatures can change rapidly as night gives way to day, making tyre choice even more complex.
Two loops of Aspremont – La Bâtie-des-Fonts (19.61km) and Chalancon – Gumiane (21.62km) sandwich a single morning pass through Montauban-sur-l’Ouvèze – Villebois-les-Pins (22.24km), the longest stage of the weekend. Competitors return to Gap for service after the first three tests.
Things don’t get much easier on Saturday with La Bréole – Selonnet (18.31km) launching the day in darkness at 06.30. Saint Clément – Freissinières (20.48km) precedes the final service in Gap, before a repeat of La Bréole – Selonnet starts the long journey south to Monaco after another 57.10km of competition.
A new-look final leg on Sunday features a double pass through Puget-Théniers – La Penne (12.93km) and Briançonnet to Entrevaux (14.31km). There will be no service and the latter will form the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.
The 14 stages cover 257.64km in a total route of 1392.92km.
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.
• Thursday morning’s shakedown on the edge of Gap has been cancelled due to the pandemic, meaning there is no last-minute opportunity for competitors to fine tune their cars ahead of the afternoon’s opening stages.