Classic day, classic Monte, classy drives, what a sport!
Sebastien Ogier leads the overall standings after two days of rallying in the fog, rain, snow, slush and mud. Oh and some tarmac too. Wet. Which you then tackle on slicks, because why not. Seriously, this event is merciless, and it’s so beautiful because of that. Some drivers lov… erm, some drivers like it, some drivers hate it, but they all dream about winning this weird, unusual, demanding, horrible at times and again so epic thing called Rallye Monte Carlo. Today in Monte it was all about… well I was about to say survival, but it sounds so bad. This is motor sport, not a survival game show. It was about being clever, that’s what it was.
In rallying, clever mostly means to be in a constant battle with yourself, slapping yourself silly (mentally, of course!, or for real if you’re Jari-Matti Latvala) in an attempt to maintain a certain level of selfcontrol. When road turns from relatively dry or consistently wet into muddy, slippery or even icy skating ring, you need all the control you can get. Usually that’s not much, so you need to slap yourself even harder in order to not even touch the gas pedal if the car cannot follow the corner at 50 km/h or less.
Robert Kubica went off today, throwing away potential podium finish. To be perfectly honest, I was expecting that to happen, either to him or Kris Meeke. Their battle was extremely intense and I believe both pilots deserve high praise for the fantastic efforts. We can go far and wide talking about Kubica’s mistake and retirement, but rally drivers will know – some driving mistakes can be compared to a typo or a missed punctuation, yet they’ll be catastrophic enough to throw you out of the event. With Kubica gone, Meeke can relax and keep the car on the road for the rest of the event – if he crashes out now, well, let’s hope he doesn’t.
Tricky stages and changing conditions sums up Monte nicely and today had plenty of both. All drivers experienced some kind of issues; offs, punctures, spins, even the stupid stop control positioned too close to the finish line almost caused a major accident. Sebastien Ogier made sure he was there to walk over Meeke, Kubica and later on over Bryan Bouffier when Frenchman had a spin and lost a massive amount of time. Even though the battle for the lead is KINDA over-ish, lower your gaze a few spots down and voila – excitement.
Elfyn Evans is in 6th place, 10.1 seconds behind Jari-Matti Latvala and 29.2 seconds ahead of Mikko Hirvonen. Does that sound like a fight waiting to happen on day 3. It sure does.
Driver of the day: all of them and Elfyn Evans. Compare the experience and it’s easy to notice why this young guy is so impressive. Usually those that come and instantly start slapping faces of the more experienced lot are the ones to watch. I’m sure Elfyn is one such driver.