It’s hard to believe this video is so old – it’s been more than 10 years since Petter Solberg and Phil Mills set fastest time on one of the legendary Monte Carlo special stages. Of course, Solberg was driving for Subaru back then, and the combination of the two is simply great on twisty and narrow road leading towards the famous pass.
Listening to co-drivers pacenote delivery is always interesting, and the way Phil Mills does it is just superb. Change of pace and volume of the voice is spot on, and despite rapid delivery you can get all the info and even process it if you really try hard. But to apply that to the actual driving, well, that’s another story and one of the reasons why not all of us can be successful rally drivers. For me it is easier to follow Nicky Grist’s pacenotes, especially from his time with Juha Kankkunen, but I guess it’s a bit silly to talk about this – it’s the guys behind the wheels that count – if they can digest all the noise pouring out of the headsets, that’s all that matters.
The stage itself is one of the classics and undoubtedly one of the top 10 special stages ever. There wasn’t any snow in this particular occassion, but Col de Turini is famous for it’s tricky conditions, often further complicated by overly enthusiastic (I’m trying not to use another word) spectators. You see, throwing snowballs at cars and shovelling snow into corners isn’t exactly considered very welcome or clever.
I am also curious about one thing on this stage: on the uphill section, what happens to spectators standing on the outside walls in case a car slides off and hits that wall. It’s uphill and speeds are not *that* huge, but I don’t suppose you can just stand still and observe as the out-of-control WRC machine slides towards you. But what other options are there? Either jump on a bonnet (and become instant YouTube sensation!) or plummet 10 or so meters and hope to survive (and not be hit by wall fragments if the car happens to crash hard enough). People sometimes really do get blinded by their love of rally!
Fast-forward 10+ years and WRC returns to Monte Carlo once again. Sadly, Petter Solberg, Phil Mills and Subaru will not be here – yet hope remains. Rumour has it Petter will be busy crashing into other people in rallycross this year, and you never know when Subaru might decide it’s time to bring back the true blue.
Until then, I’ll enjoy 20+ minutes of fastest climb on Col de Turini in 2002.