Monte Carlo provides tricky start to the season for Elfyn
With constant changes in grip and unpredictable forecasts, the key to success is widely regarded as ‘confidence in compromise’. Victory would be no mean feat and the rally can be won and lost on shrewd tyre selection – requiring the team to master the perfect configuration. The rally is the only event of the year where crews will have four Michelin compounds to choose from – the soft and supersoft Pilot Sport and the studded and non-studded Pilot Alpin – which makes the optimum formation all the more challenging to find.
In a change from recent years, this year’s fixture will see a move from the previous base in Valence, to the Alpine town of Gap. The change of location brings a revised route which may level the playing field to some extent, but experience could still prove pivotal. The very nature of the rally calls for an understanding of the region’s ever-changing conditions, and that fact holds M-Sport’s returning heroes in good stead.
Elfyn Evans will be making his maiden Monte-Carlo outing on what is only his second time behind the wheel of a Fiesta RS WRC. The first test of the season will be a real baptism of fire for the young Welshman, but with expert guidance from the team as well as Mikko Hirvonen, Jarmo Lehtinen and his own co-driver Daniel Barritt, he is in safe hands. All have been victorious at the event in the past, Barritt navigating Fumio Nutahara to the Production World Rally Championship win in 2006.
Ultimately however, the event will be a journey of discovery for Elfyn. With the added challenge of no Rally 2 regulations – which allow competitors to restart after a non-finish the following day – the Welshman will be determined to make Sunday’s finish ramp. His goal will be to gain as much knowledge and experience of the specialist stages as possible.
Our approach for this event will be to gain as much knowledge as we can. There is no doubting that it will be a difficult start to the year, but I am really looking forward to the challenge. We’re here to learn and to make the most of this opportunity for the years to come.
Monte is known to be a bit of a lottery. The conditions can be really unpredictable and it will also be the first time that I have had to work with an ice note crew, so that might take some getting used to. We had some really tricky conditions on the first day of our tesr, but we were able to run a lot of different variations with the tyres which should hopefully see us well prepared for anything the Monte has to offer.
Of course we all understand how unforgiving this event can be. I’ve only ever driven the Fiesta RS WRC on gravel in competition, so our main objective will be to make it to the finish ramp with as much experience as possible.