Monte Carlo Rally Is Back! Citroën Aiming For Victory.
Three Gallic cheers, the legendary Monte Carlo Rallye is back in the WRC, as the 2012 season opener! And Citroën Total World Rally Team are aiming for a sixth victory at the event with two works DS3 WRC crews, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena and Mikko Hirvonen & Jarmo Lehtinen making their competitive debut for the team in a DS3 WRC. Loeb said: "It is the world’s most famous rally," while Hirvonen said: "It makes sense to start the season from here."The classic icy, cold, French Rally returns after a three-year absence. The rally starts in Valence (Drôme) on Wednesday 18 January and arrives in Monaco on Sunday 22 January, taking in the Ardèche, Haute-Loire, Vercors and Alpes-Maritimes regions, with a total of 430km of timed sections. And the 18 special stages read like a list of rallying’s great monuments: Le Moulinon, Burzet, Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, Saint-Jean-en-Royans and the famous Col du Turini etc. Offering a real challenge for drivers, a headache for engineers and a delight for spectators, Monte Carlo is every inch the classic rally. Five-time winners Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are excited at the idea of racing in one of their favourite rallies again. Adept at handling the many grip changes that are typical of the route, the Franco-Monegasque driver pairing will start as favourites. "It’s three years since I last competed in this rally," played down Sébastien Loeb. "I don’t doubt my ability to be on the pace, since we haven’t really stopped since the end of last season. But this rally is so specific, you can never be sure of anything." Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen make their competitive debut for Citroën in the No.2 works DS3 WRC. The Finnish driver pairing has made a habit of getting off to a good start. Winners in Sweden at the opening rally of the 2010 and 2011 WRC seasons, they also won the 2010 Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Super 2000. "Although I really enjoyed racing in Sweden, I think it makes more sense to start the season here," confirmed Citroën Total World Rally Team’s new driver. "That said, I’m a little apprehensive about Monte-Carlo. Starting a stage where there are icy patches on slick tyres is not something I am particularly looking forward to, but that’s part of what makes this rally special! My aim for this weekend will be to ‘survive’, or in other words, make it to the finish without incident and pick up as many points as possible in the championships." We can;t wait, can you? Who's your Monte money on?