The 2014 Rallye Monte-Carlo will present almost an entirely new challenge over recent events, according to some of the WRC’s star drivers.
The route for this season’s opener has been substantially modified after organisers switched the central location for the stages from the town of Valence to the Hautes-Alpes region surrounding Gap.
The crews got a first glimpse of the roads that will be used stages on this week’s event when they took part in the pre-event recce that reached its conclusion on Monday night. They then travelled to the iconic Casino Square in Monte Carlo to take part in the customary ceremonial start and driver photo shoot.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke said: “It [Rallye Monte-Carlo] has always been a challenge, the stages around Gap are different to the ones closer to Valence, they are very technical and tricky. These stages will throw everything up.”
Most of the stages that will be used this year haven’t been used in almost a decade and a number of long-standing stage records remain intact. The oldest of these is Carlos Sainz’ benchmark time over the Sisteron-Thoard stage (SS10) that he set in a Lancia Delta HF Integrale in 1993.
Hyundai Motorsport driver, Thierry Neuville, is aware of the challenge that he faces this week. “This is a completely new rally. The stages are different to Valence. There are some big challenges; there’s some ice and some bumpy parts.”