Rallye Monte-Carlo Preview

The 2015 FIA World Rally Championship action kicks off this weekend with the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo

After a break of just nine weeks, the FIA World Rally Championship action resumes with the season-opening Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo (19-25 January). The oldest and most famous rally in the world, run under the High Patronage of their Serene Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Monaco, is set to provide some of the most challenging conditions of the season, with variable winter weather in the mountains and a host of tyre choice dilemmas.

Sébastien Ogier will be kicking off his title defence from his home town of Gap, where the majority of the event is based, and eyes are likely to be on the duel between Volkswagen’s reigning double World Rally Champion and arch rival Sébastien Loeb, nine-time FIA World Rally Champion and seven-time winner of Rallye Monte-Carlo; the Frenchman is making a one-off WRC appearance in the DS3 WRC. In addition to Volkswagen and Citroën, Hyundai and M-Sport will be fielding strong contenders in with a chance of victory, including Monte-Carlo specialist Bryan Bouffier in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC who claimed second overall last year. Czech driver Martin Prokop remains committed to the series and Italy’s Lorenzo Bertelli has moved up from the WRC 2 Championship to a season in a World Rally Car. Robert Kubica also returns to rally competition and is one of 18 drivers contesting the event in full-spec machinery.

For the first time, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also a round of the FIA Junior WRC Championship, in which 11 competitors are registered in two-wheel drive Citroën DS3s, and the event is also a round of the FIA WRC 2 Championship for four-wheel drive cars, making up another 11 registered entrants. In addition, the season-opening WRC event is the first in the newly-created FIA RGT Cup, and the roar of the Porsche 911s in the hands of François Delecour, Marc Duez and Romain Dumas will spice up the action on one of the most unpredictable and tricky events of the season.

Before any of the action gets underway, however, the WRC Season Opening Celebration, where a host of international celebrities will also join the WRC contenders, will kick off the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship in spectacular style in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.

THE 2015 ROUTE

More than 75% of the route for the 83rd Rallye Monte-Carlo has been modified with the organiser hailing it as potentially one of the most difficult in its history. This year the competition kicks off immediately after the ceremonial start on Thursday as competitors face two night stages en route back to Gap. A brand new loop of three stages will run twice on Friday before crews return to more traditional stages on Saturday as they head back towards the Principality of Monaco. The Alpes Maritimes Hinterland will play host to the final stages on Sunday with the running of the iconic Col de Turini being the penultimate test before the closing Power Stage.

Rallye Monte-Carlo has also adopted Rally 2 regulations, allowing crews who have retired to re-start subsequent days.

RALLY DATA

Total distance:1,403.08 kmStage distance:355.48km (25.34%)Number of stages:15