Weather adds to Monte challenge

Drivers at Rallye Monte-Carlo are braced for an incoming band of bad weather on Friday that has left them questioning the conditions they will face.

Competitors encountered little snow or ice on the stages during the pre-event recce, and bright sunshine and temperatures of more than 10°C have thawed much of the ice that remained on stages like Thursday's opening Thoard – Sisteron.

But that could change on Friday, with the arrival of a weather front that is expected to hit the mountain stages in the Hautes-Alpes, Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence regions south of host town Gap.

And with much of Friday and Saturday's route sitting at an altitude between 800m and 1500m, the front has the potential to bring a mix of rain and snow.

Even defending champion Sébastien Ogier, who was born in Gap, is unclear about the conditions he will enournter and the implications for tyre strategy.

"I’m local, but it’s always difficult to know with the forecast," he said. "There is some bad weather coming on Friday, but we don’t know where; it could be rain in the low part, but what’s coming on the col? It’s for our weather guys to give us the right information to make the right call on the tyres."

Citroën's Kris Meeke said the incoming weather could render pace notes made during the recce meaningless.

"We recced a stage on Wednesday and it was completely dry. We came out with a nice rhythm in the notes, then we'll arrive on Saturday and it could be full snow – it’s the weather not the stage that’s the important thing here," he explained.

"For Monte you can’t anticipate too much, you look through the windscreen and hope you’re on the right tyres."

The rally begins this evening (Thursday) from Place du Casino in Monaco. The competitive action kicks off at 2143hrs with the 36.69km Thoard-Sisteron stage, run this year in the opposite direction for the first time.


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