Heavy snow and icy roads: even before the official start, the Rally Monte Carlo is already living up to its legendary reputation as an unpredictable entity. Volkswagen crews Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) experienced difficult conditions during the Shakedown, a free practice ahead of Wednesday’s opening special stage.
The route near Valence was an ever-changing mixture of snow, mud and wet asphalt, and gave the drivers a first taste of what they can expect to face over the next few days at the opening round of the World Rally Championship in the French Maritime Alps. Latvala clocked the fifth fastest time after four runs, with Sébastien Ogier just behind him in sixth.
Thoughts after the Shakedown:
Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7
“It was a great feeling to get out there in the Polo R WRC for the first time this morning. I feel right at home in the team. Everyone is working very passionately and is determined to succeed. The weather conditions were not easy today, and I expect the situation to deteriorate further over the coming days. The Rally Monte Carlo is renowned for its fluctuating weather – with asphalt, snow, ice and mud, you can potentially face every possible surface except gravel. As such, the tire selection will be difficult: if you make the right decision, you can suddenly find yourself up front. At the same time, the wrong decision can soon see you lose a lot of time and positions.”
Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8
“The first Shakedown in the Polo R WRC was a special feeling for me and the entire Volkswagen Team. The waiting is finally over! Furthermore, the ‘Monte’ is my home rally. I have a lot of fans here, and my friends and family will also be here. The car is fun, but the heavy snowfall obviously really affected the Shakedown. The tire selection plays a pivotal role at the ‘Monte’. I did without spikes on the first practice run, in order to save them for the rally itself, but it was actually a bit too slippery. Generally speaking I am happy, and we managed to test out a few tire combinations. I am looking forward to tomorrow!”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Shakedown provided the drivers with an important opportunity to get used to the car and the conditions – the result is of secondary importance for now. The entire team was full of anticipation ahead of the first outing of our new cars, and everyone is now focused on their job. The early snowfall means that this year’s Rally Monte Carlo looks like being a particularly difficult challenge. The varying conditions can make every single stage a lottery when it comes to tire selection. We are really looking forward to the first stage tomorrow.”