This year’s event will start and finish in Monte Carlo, but the majority of the event will take place in the Alps with the service park being situated in Gap. There are 388 kilometres of competitive distance in 17 special stages, with around 50 percent of the route being different from last year. The rally is also taking place a week later than last year, with organisers hoping that this will mean there is more snow along the route.
Night Special Stages
The rally will begin with two tough night stages in the Alps on the Thursday night. In anticipation of the difficulties drivers could have in the conditions, additional light pods will be deployed on cars. One of the Thursday night stages will be the classic Thoard – Sisteron stage, which will be run in this direction for the first time in WRC history. The Thursday night stages promise to create a magical atmosphere, as only night rallying can, and provide a fitting start to the 2018 World Rally Championship.
Sleepless Start of the Rally
Drivers will need to be well rested before the rally as there is little time for rest between the opening two legs. Thursday night’s stage 2 starts at 22:51 local time and is 25km long. This means that first car will not arrive at the parc fermé until 0:44. But with stage 3 starting at 8:51 the following morning and the second leg comprising six stages and 145 km in distance, there is little time for drivers and teams to prepare themselves.
The Importance of Tyre Selection
The Rallye Monte Carlo is essentially an asphalt rally but its mountain setting, and unpredictable weather means drivers can find themselves taking snow, ice and dry asphalt on the same stage. This means they have to find a balance between tyres that suit both. Teams will usually have two spare tyres to allow the biggest possible choice, while studded tyres are also allowed. Some teams will also go with wacky combinations of tyres, such as studded and dry asphalt tyres on opposite corners in an attempt to find that crucial advantage. Making the right choice of tyre can be the difference between winning and not winning, so being able to read the conditions is essential.
Route Note Cars Allowed: Each registered crew is allowed one route note car to check conditions shortly before the stage starts. This car must only have two persons, both of whom need an international or national “entrant - driver” auto license. They can drive at no more than 90km/h and can only cover the course once, not interfering with the schedule in any way. If crews don’t have a route note car, then one team member per competitor is allowed to be present at the route note exchange points where notes can be handed over.
Iconic Special Stage
The most famous stage of the Rallye Monte Carlo takes place in the Col de Turini, in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above the Principality. There will be two passes over this legendary 18.41km-long La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava special stage. It was the Power Stage last year and saw a One-Two result for ŠKODA FABIA R5 in WRC2 category, with Andreas Mikkelsen pipping Jan Kopecký by 2.3 seconds.