The biggest question posed by this weekend’s (24-27 January 2008) Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the 2008 World Rally Championship, is can Sebastien Loeb keep his crown, with four wins and two second places after six WRC starts, as the King of the Monte Carlo Rally?
A unique blend of mountain passes, death defying drops, roads that can be anything between dry, icy and covered in snow — on the same stage — make this, the oldest event in the World Rally Championship, a unique test of skill and, it must be said, bravery, as well as tactics by the team managers. Last year’s event saw the return of legendary stages like Saint Jean en Royans, Burzet and Saint Bonnet le Froid, and this year’s menu features the comeback of yet another classic: the Col du Turini.
Loeb’s first appearance was in the Junior WRC class with a Citroen Saxo, and then came the Citroen Xsara with three wins and two seconds. Last year, on its debut outing, he took the new Citroen C4 WRC to the top step of the podium en route to his fourth world title.
“I’m obviously dreaming of a white Monte Carlo, with real wintry conditions,” says Sebastien Loeb. “The route focuses on three different regions, so the stages will be very varied. Thursday evening’s tests are wide, fast and smooth. Those in the ArdÃ¨che are more technical, narrower and occasionally bumpy. Last year, the conditions were particularly dry but it should be fun if we get snow and ice this time round! I am delighted to see that the Col du Turini and some other classic stages in the southeast corner of France are back. That said, the challenge of having to contest the final day’s four stages with the same tyres could well turn out to be quite delicate.”
The stage conditions encountered on the Monte Carlo Rally have always been one of this fixture’s main difficulties. The asphalt tests take place to a mountainous backdrop, with numerous high mountain passes to cross, and competitors constantly switch from shade to roads that are more exposed to sunshine. In the course of a single stage, it is consequently by no means rare to come across portions of clear asphalt and other parts that are covered in ice and/or snow, so tyres frequently play a decisive role.
“We will have the choice between three types of tyre,” explains Citroen Sport’s Technical Manager Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. “If the conditions are dry, the only option we will have will be the soft compound dry weather tyre. If it snows, our crews will be able to choose between studded and non-studded snow tyres, depending on the temperature and how much snow they expect to find. The Monte Carlo Rally promises to be a particularly tough rally because, like the other teams, we have no real hindsight following the work we have put in with our cars running on Pirelli tyres. As far as the evolutions to the C4 WRC are concerned, we will have a new engine — the ‘EW’ — for the Monte Carlo Rally, as well as some aerodynamic evolutions at the front.”
This event marks the debut of a new boss for the Citroen Team, with Olivier Quesnel taking over from Guy Frequelin, the man who made Citroen one of the most successful WRC teams of all time.
“We will take a measured approach to the start of our 2008 WRC campaign,” points out Citroen Sport’s new director, Olivier Quesnel. “The switch to a single tyre manufacturer will be the principal change for the first round of the championship and, as always in such cases, we will need time to adapt. We have done as much work as we can to amass as much data as possible concerning the tyres we will have for the Monte Carlo Rally but we are aware that we still have a great deal to learn. The Monte Carlo Rally has always been a challenging event, not only because of its stages but also because it is the first round of the season. It will be especially difficult this year because of the tyre factor with which we will have to come to terms on the event itself. The competition promises to be extremely fierce, too, but I have every confidence in our technical staff who have worked hard to make the Citroen C4 WRC even more competitive. I also believe that Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc MartÃ form a very strong line-up and I know they will be looking to start the year with a repeat of their exploit of last year. Our objective for 2008 is to win both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ world titles, so a top result would obviously be a first class omen.”
Should Seb and Daniel succeed in adding a fifth Monte Carlo victory to their record, they will become the most successful crew in the winter classic’s history.
“As is often the case at the start of a new season, there are a lot of unknown factors,” explains Sebastien . “We will need to find the best match between the tyres we have and the stage conditions, but our aim is to try to win and get the year off to a positive start.”
“I’m very much looking forward to the start of the Monte Carlo Rally, although we will probably need time to adapt to our new tyres,” echoes Dani. “We have prepared thoroughly for this event but nothing can replace actually being on the rally. The Monte’s stages are fantastic but we will need to stay focused from start to finish if we want to achieve our objective which is a top-three finish with a view to scoring as many points as possible for Citroen.”
Event notes: the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally
- The 76th Monte Carlo Rally (January 24-27): round 1 of 15
- Surface type: dry or wet asphalt, ice, snow
- Where: Valence, the ArdÃ¨che mountains, Monaco, the southeast French Alps Service Park in Valence from Thursday to Saturday.
- Technical matters: the engines and chassis of the C4s are sealed and will also be used in Sweden. The engine will also go on to compete in Mexico. Two gearbox/differential packages are authorised per driver. Five sets of dampers and five hub carriers are authorised per event.
- Tyres: tyres a draw will decide the allocation of tyres to teams by the FIA. For the Monte Carlo Rally, three types of tyre will be available: soft compound asphalt tyres, studded tyres on 18-inch rims and non-studded snow tyres on 18-inch rims. The number of tyres that can be used during shakedown is limited. It is mandatory to fit fresh tyres at the start of each group of stages. It is possible to carry two spares.
- Recce: Monday January 21, Tuesday January 22 and Wednesday January 23. Two passes authorised at a maximum speed of 90kph.
- Shakedown: Thursday January 24 (08.00 until 12.00). The test stage is new this year and uses a 5.03km portion of the D21 near Vernoux-en-Vivarais, 42.73km west of the service park in Valence.
- Press conference: Thursday January 24 (from 14.00) in the conference room of Valence’s Exhibition Centre.
- Start ceremony: Thursday January 24, from 17.30, Place du Champ de Mars, Valence.
- Route: total distance is 1,481.25km, including 365.09km divided into 19 stages (11 different).
- Day 1 (Thursday January 24): 169.31km, including 45.70km divided into 2 stages (2 different).
- Starts from the service park, Valence (17.30). SS1 (St Jean en Royans, 28.12km) and SS2 (La Cime du Mas-Col de Gaudissart, 17.58km). Service A (21.01, 45 minutes). Last car due into parc ferme at 23.15.
- Day 2 (Friday January 25): 544.25km, including 116.96km divided into 6 stages (3 different).
- Starts from parc ferme. Service B (06.50, 15 minutes). SS3 (St Pierreville-Col de la Fayolle 1, 29.52km), SS4 (Burzet-Lachamp Raphael 1, 16.30km) and SS5 (St Martial-Le Chambon-Beleac 1, 12.66km). Regroup (12.44, 18 minutes). Service C (13.02, 30 minutes). SS6 (St Pierreville-Col de la Fayolle 2), SS7 (Burzet-Lachamp Raphael 2) and SS8 (St Martial-Le Chambon-Beleac 2). Service D (19.11, 45 minutes). Last car due into parc ferme at 21.35.
- Day 3 (Saturday January 26): 443.26km, including 132.78km divided into 6 stages (3 different). Starts from parc ferme. Service E (05.55, 15 minutes). SS9 (Labatie d’Andaure-Lalouvesc 1, 19.37km), SS10 (St Bonnet-St Bonnet 1, 25.36km) and SS11 (Lamastre-Gilhoc-AlboussiÃ¨re 1, 21.66km). Regroup (10.43, 18 minutes). Service F (11.01, 30 minutes). SS12 (Labatie d’Andaure- Lalouvesc 2), SS13 (St Bonnet-St Bonnet 2 and ES14 (Lamastre-Gilhoc-AlboussiÃ¨re 2. Service G (16.04, 45 minutes). Last car due into parc ferme in Monaco at 00.30.
- Day 4 (Sunday January 27): 324.43km, including 69.65km divided into 5 stages (3 different).
- Starts from parc ferme (07.50). remote service, Gilette (08.50, 15 minutes). SS15 (La Bollene Vesubie-Moulinet 1, 22.68km), SS16 (Luceram-Loda 1, 15.34km), SS17 (La Bollene Vesubie-Moulinet 2), SS18 (Luceram-Loda 2) and SS19 (Circuit de Monaco, 2.70km).
- Finish ceremony: Sunday January 27, Place du Palais Princier, Monaco (from 16.30).
- Post-event press conference: Sunday January 27 (from 17.30), press office, Sporting d’Hiver, Monaco.
- New: this year’s rally takes place a week later than it did in 2007. The ArdÃ¨che stages have been modified. The portion between Col de la Fayolle (SS3/6) and Antraigues will be run as a road section. The finish of St Bonnet (SS10/13) has been slightly modified and SS11/14 now runs from Lamastre to AlboussiÃ¨re. The major difference compared with 2007 is the return of stages in the mountains near Nice.
- Citroen’s Monte Carlo Rally record: six wins: 1959 (Coltelloni/Alexandre/Derosiers, ID19), 1966 (Toivonen/Mikkander, DS21), 2003, 2004 and 2005 (Loeb/Elena, Xsara WRC) and 2007 (Loeb/Elena, C4 WRC).
The crews’ statistics (before the rally):
- Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: WRC debut: Catalonia 1999 (Saxo Kit-Car, retired). WRC starts: 98. First WRC win: Germany, 2002 (Xsara). WRC wins: 36. WRC world titles: 4 (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007).
- Dani Sordo/Marc MartÃ: First WRC rally together: Monte Carlo 2005 (C2S1600/15th) (Dani’s
- WRC debut: Catalonia 2003/18th). WRC starts together: 38 (Dani without Marc: 44). Junior title: 2005.
The crews’ Monte Carlo Rally records:
- Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: this will be their eighth start together: 2007 (C4 WRC, 1st), 2006 (Xsara WRC, 2nd), 2005, 2004 and 2003 (Xsara, 1st), 2002 (Xsara, 2nd) and 2001 (Saxo Kit-Car, 15th). Daniel Elena also contested the Monte Carlo Rally as a driver in 1997 (106 Rallye, retired) and 1998 (106 Rallye, 36th overall, 2nd Class N1).
- Dani Sordo: this will be his fourth start with Marc MartÃ: 2007 (C4 WRC, 2nd), 2006 (Xsara WRC, 8th) and 2005 (C2 S1600, 15th).
- Marc MartÃ: this will be his tenth start: 2007 (C4 WRC with Dani Sordo, 2nd), 2006 (Xsara WRC with Dani Sordo, 8th), 2005 (C2 S1600 with Dani Sordo, 15th), 2004 (Xsara WRC with Carlos Sainz, retired), 2003 (Xsara WRC with Carlos Sainz, 3rd), 2001 and 1999 (Saxo Kit-Car with Jesus Puras, retired), 1998 (Ibiza GTI with Oriol GÃ³mez, retired) and 1997 (Ibiza GTI with Oriol GÃ³mez, 15th).
- A PH Sport-prepared and run Xsara WRC has been entered privately by Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior.
Just in time for the opening round of the 2008 World Rally Championship, which kicks off in Monte Carlo this weekend (24-27 January 2008), the Citroen Motorsport Team has launched a new web site for fans.
The site — www.citroen-wrc.com — contains a wealth of information and exclusive content, everything from videos and pictures to mobile phone ring tones of the Citroen C4 WRC in action, as well as a venue for fans of Citroen, Sebastien Loeb and the team to communicate with each other, as well as with the team.
By becoming a member of Citroen Team via web site, fans can also be provided with results live from events, bulletins and access to competitions, including the ultimate prize — a ride in a Citroen C4 WRC with four time World Champion, Sebastien Loeb!
Occupation: I work for a foam company — all the motorcross boys get their foam from me for their foam pits
How did you get into that?
Basically, they offered me the job and it seemed pretty good at the time.
Because you’re involved in the motorcross scene?
Yeah, I’m Mikey’s (Mad Mike — cover car owner) girlfriend, so I go along and support him. I used to get into BMX, which Mikey also did when he was younger.
So you’re not too worried when he’s 50 feet in the air on a Thumpster?
No, I do get stressed out sometimes, but not so bad when it’s over foam.
So you’re into your rotaries as well?
Yeah, I’m definitely into rotaries and cars in general.
So what’s your favourite car then?
I’d have to say Mikey’s batty, otherwise! (laughs).
And apart from that?
RX-3 coupes definitely and Mikey’s old FURSTY 808 wagon
So have you owned any rotaries yourself?
Yeah, a 500SE Mercedes with a 13B turbo. It was too big for me though, so I had to downsize.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Ride bikes, shop and study.
What are you studying?
I work full-time and study business at nights at MIT.
So you can run your own foam pit company one day?
Yeah, and help manage Mikey’s sign writing company Create Graphics.
If there was one thing you could make legal, what would it be?
Definitely something to do with the car scene, as they’re taking the fun out of it at the moment with new laws, like the exhaust law.
What’s a perfect night out for you?
Something surprising and not planned, and going out with friends.
Sorry Mikey you gotta take her out on a date now: Something surprising, okay Mikey?
Have you got any plans to compete on BMX Bikes?
I just do it for fun and fitness and to give me something to do.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Being in the 808 when Mikey hopped out during a skid at Skidfest and I was strapped inside.
Are you into speed or style?
Carbon or Chrome?
What’s your greatest ambition?
I want to keep educating myself and see how far I can go with things.
Model: Toni â€ â€ â€
Hair & Make Up: Evana Patterson
Styling: Amanda Carter @ Allure Promotions
Photos: Quinn Hamill
Blue & pink bikinis supplied by Teazeclothing.com
Lonsdale Mushroom shorts ($60) pink Paul Frank singlet ($40)
Grey Snow Lee Jeans ($165), pink bikini top from Beachbrasil.com
Get your own photoshoot by the professional team at Parkside. Click here to find out more.
Will it be Stuttgart’s finest, or will the electronic trickery of the Japanese supercar pummel the Porsche into submission?
Namco Networks today announced the worldwide release of Pole Position: Remix, now available for purchase and download from the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) for play on iPod. Pole Position: Remix is based on Namco’s popular racing classic Pole Position II, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The iPod title includes completely new game play, graphics, soundtracks and an entirely new course exclusive to the iPod. Pole Position: Remix is available from iTunes for US$4.99 and can be played on the iPod nano with video, iPod classic and the fifth generation iPod.
In the game, players race to the finish line while avoiding explosive collisions with cars, billboards and other obstacles. Pole Position: Remix includes updated 3D versions of the four classic Pole Position II tracks and the brand new Misaki Point track available only on the iPod.
“Pole Position: Remix takes the classic game play of one of Namco’s most popular racing series and combines it with new themes, designs and more integrated game play,” said Scott Rubin, vice president of sales and marketing, Namco Networks. “The iPod Click Wheel is a perfect control pad for steering in a racing game and the device’s portability gives consumers access to this quality game experience anywhere, anytime.”
Each track in Pole Position: Remix can be played across four types of racing: practice, single race, grand prix and sudden death. Points are earned for the distance traveled and for passing enemy cars. If players race well they can unlock reversed or mirrored versions of the tracks and themes for tracks, cars and billboards, including those based on favorite Namco games such as PAC-MAN. Players can also choose to listen to their music library on their iPod while playing the game. Exclusive to the iPod, players can take advantage of Pole Position: Remix’s album art feature which randomly displays album art on roadside billboards from the player’s personal music collection. The feature will automatically display album art from the song that is currently playing as well as randomly pull album art from other songs in the player’s iPod.
Visit www.NamcoGames.com/PolePositionRemix for more information.
Rallye Monte Carlo heralds the return of the World Rally Championship with one of the most unpredictable events of the year. In its 76th running, this four day rally is a notoriously tricky combination of snow, ice and demanding routes which often produces some surprise results.
Crews will leave the service park in Valence, near the river RhÃ´ne 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 365 kilometres of competition starts on Thursday evening with two night stages. There is no gentle start to the year: the opening stage is just shy of being the longest of the event at over 28 kilometres.
The weather in January in Monte Carlo will be typically cold, and this year the rally has been scheduled one week later in an attempt to ensure the snow that the rally just missed last season. In the first rally in which the 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.
The team’s driver lineup 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.
In the second Impreza will be Chris Atkinson and co-driver Stephane Prevot, who started together in Argentina last season. Spanish duo Xevi Pons and Xavier Amigo are missing from the entry list however, their negotiations with the team still ongoing.
The Subaru World Rally Team have entered two Impreza WRC2007s for Rallye Monte Carlo. Petter Solberg / Phil Mills will drive car number five and Chris Atkinson/ Stephane Prevot will be in car number six. Petter and Phil have competed on these roads seven times. Chris, on his second visit, had his best finish of fourth overall in 2007 courtesy of three stage wins.
David Richards, Subaru World Rally Team Principal: “Monte Carlo Rally has often turned out to be a lottery, where the weather has thrown up some opportunistic and historic victories, and if we can snatch those chances, who knows? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if either of our drivers climbed the podium. It’s one of those events where anything can happen.”
Paul Howarth, Subaru World Rally Team operations director: “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. 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.”
Petter Solberg: “It is important to get into a rhythm straight away and settle into a pace you feel comfortable with. With no anti-deflation mousse you can’t take risks in the stages as a puncture could finish your rally. There will be a lot of snow I think and Monte is always tricky anyway so it won’t be easy, that’s for sure. It will be about who can make the most of their tyres and adapt to the conditions fastest, but if someone manages something special with them people will follow quickly.”
Chris Atkinson: “It’s going to be an interesting event for sure. It’s raining here in Monaco so I’m sure it’s snowing in the stages already. I’ve never done this event with a lot of snow so it’s 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 a winter tyre, 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.”
Between The Rallies
For the Subaru World Rally Team drivers, the off-season was filled with a mixture of testing and media commitments, time with family and friends and preparations for this season. In early January, Petter and Chris took part in an asphalt tyre test near Lyon, France in preparation for Monte Carlo, followed shortly followed by two days in Sweden.
January also saw the return of Estonian Markko Martin to the Subaru World Rally Team in the role of official test driver. Martin, who won the Bettega Memorial Rally aboard a works-supplied and run WRC2007 in December 2007, will commence testing before the end of the month.
You know how it is, you’re in the lead, things are looking sweet, then suddenly you’re a tricycle.
Desperate to make the Nissan GT-R’s 3.3-second 0-100kph time lower, Mines has releases a number of performance upgrades and modifications for the new supercar.