Atkinson aims for repeat of 2007 Monte form
- 23rd January 2008, 12:04pm
Atkinson, who finished fourth at the event in 2007 with three stage wins along the way, would dearly love to produce another top five result, but knows he will have to master the course and his car to do so.
The rally, based in the tiny principality, is considered one of the most unpredictable events of the year - a notoriously tricky combination of snow, ice and demanding roads.
Atkinson will again be behind the wheel of the Impreza WRC2007, with the new Impreza not due until later in the season.
The Queenslander, brought up on sun and dirt roads, is well aware of the challenges he will face over the weekend.
“It’s going to be an interesting event for sure,” Atkinson said.
“We’re expecting some snow on some stages given the recent weather. I’ve never done this event with a lot of snow that will be new for me.”
“Both times I’ve run this rally we’ve had good results, but I don’t underestimate how much of a challenge it is.”
“Although the tyre choices aren’t wide because we only have one slick and two winter tyres, it’s going to be important when we choose to take each one, and we have to watch out for punctures.”
“I’m definitely looking forward to starting the season again now though.”
It is the first rally in which all teams will use the Pirelli championship control tyre. There will be three options: the DS soft slick tyre, the snow WX tyre without metal studs, and the WX tyre with studs that provide extra traction on icy sections.
Paul Howarth, Subaru World Rally Team operations director, thinks that Monte Carlo is an event that is all about tyres.
“This year there will be a lot of snow and stages run in the dark, so consistency and optimizing the grip level on the changeable asphalt will be crucial to a good result,” Howarth said.
“There are a lot of competitive drivers this season all bidding for top spots, so it will be a measure of pushing for pace without throwing it away in the opening round.”
The 365 kilometres of competition starts on Thursday evening with two night stages. There is no gentle start to the year as the opening stage is over 28 kilometres, just shy of being the longest of the event.
Crews will leave the service park in Valence, near the river Rhône in south-east France, for three of the four days of competition until the finish of Saturday’s stages, at which point the WRC contingent will decamp to a second service park location in Monaco, opposite the Automobile Club de Monaco headquarters.
The asphalt roads twist and flow through the breathtaking but notoriously tricky mountain stages of the region. A welcome inclusion of the Alpes Maritimes region on Sunday will see crews tackle the spectacular Col de Turini and finish the rally with a high-speed blast around the harbour section of the famed Monaco Grand Prix circuit.
The Subaru World Rally Team driver line-up remains unchanged; Petter Solberg will commence his tenth season alongside co-driver Phil Mills in one of the most established pairings in the WRC. Rallye Monte Carlo will be the duo’s 122nd rally on the world stage together.
Atkinson, in car number six, will again be with co-driver Stéphane Prévot, who started together in Argentina last season.
SUBSCRIBE BELOW TO READ THE FULL STORY
By clicking "Subscribe Now" you agree to receive news, offers and updates on RallySport Magazine. If you do not wish to receive marketing communications, you can update your preferences in My Account.
We will commence charging your payment method after the 7 day free trial expires. If you cancel after expiry of your trial, cancellation will take effect from the end of your current monthly subscription period. You will not be refunded any fees paid to RallySport Magazine unless otherwise set out in the terms and conditions.