Tyres: The 2017 Monte mix
Changeable weather and inconsistent road conditions make tyre choices at Rallye Monte-Carlo some of the hardest of the season to call. And this week's wintry edition presents a typically mixed bag.
Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala didn't think he had ever seen so much snow and ice on a Monte-Carlo recce before, but it's an inconsistent picture, and the mountain roads between Gap and Monaco feature everything from packed snow and sheet ice, to clean, dry asphalt.
World Rally Car drivers are able to use 43 tyres for the rally – including shakedown. They select them from a personal allocation of 80: 20 soft-compound, 24 super soft-compound, 12 non-studded snow and 24 studded snow tyres.
M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans said the worst of the winter conditions were on days two and three - when studded tyres would be the clear choice.
"Thursday's stages were mainly dry, with some tricky, short, icy sections, but Friday's and Saturday's were mostly full snow. Sunday was fully dry with just the odd icy patch," he explained.
"We should have enough studded tyres to see us through Friday and Saturday's stages. But a change in the weather, especially some fresh snow, could bring a sting in the tail on Sunday."
Three-time Monte winner Sébastien Ogier said: "Most of the time Monte Carlo has tricky conditions but from what we saw on the recce this is one of trickiest.
"It looks difficult, but we are used to it. At least at the moment the tyre choice looks clear. Some places are full ice and snow, and some are asphalt. Difficult conditions."
Citroën C3 driver Kris Meeke was one of many drivers to decide against using his studded-tyre allocation at shakedown. "You never know what can happen on this rally. Normally we have enough studs, but if you use them at shakedown and you get a puncture or you damage one, then that's one gone and that can put you at a disadvantage," he said.
"Okay, the Turini section was dry when we recced it, and the weather looks stable for now, but we don't know how it will look when we arrive on Sunday. Maybe some weather will have come in and we will need more studs. For sure, we made the right choice to protect our winter allocation for now."
Latvala: It's better and better
Finn gears up for Toyota Yaris WRC debut
Ogier wins Monte shakedown
New-era WRC cars take to the stages