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Taking the pulse on the eve of the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo
19 April 2024

Taking the pulse on the eve of the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo

At the end of the afternoon, the drivers took part in the traditional pre-event press conference. The rather dry road conditions and the new generation of cars were particularly at the heart of the discussions. 

That’s it, here we are! The 90th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo will be launched tomorrow at 6:45pm from the Place du Casino. And before tackling the first two stages prepared by the Automobile Club de Monaco organising committee, the drivers faced the press. After the R-GTs, WRC3s and WRC2s, Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT), Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) and Sébastien Loeb (M-Sport Ford WRT) played the Q&A game. Asked first, the reigning World Champion believes that “this weekend nobody is really ready” adding: “Maybe the one that is able to adapt quicker than the others is going to make the difference.” It must be said that the 11 crews entered in the WRC are facing a major novelty since the cars are now Rally1 hybrids. “It’s more open than ever. The team is always feeling they are not ready when you start a new era and they would always like more testing. For sure the car is different from before and for sure we have to expect them to be a bit slower – even though at some point we have this extra boost from the hybrid – but I’m pretty sure this will improve quickly”, says the Gapençais who will put his Monegasque victory in play.

New co-drivers for Loeb and Ogier 

For his part, Thierry Neuville is worried about the days of Friday and Saturday, where there will be no assistance. “The days are long with no service, I hope we don’t have to be mechanics too much and we can enjoy.” The Belgian expects “stable conditions, much drier than what [he] saw in the past“, which is why he did not test on snow with his Hyundai i20 N. About his preparation, he adds: “We have done what we could, it was busy, but we have managed quite well and we are as much looking forward as anybody.” Last driver questioned this Wednesday, Sébastien Loeb is back from Dakar, where he finished second. Although the nine-time World Champion claims to be sufficiently rested for the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, he admits that he does not have the memory of a Turini “as dry”. “With no snow even at the side of the road. It’s like a Tarmac rally with soft tyres.” Driving with Isabelle Galmiche, the M-Sport driver reveals: “It’s the co-driver, except Daniel [Elena] I drove with the most. She knows my notes, I was used to having her with me. She is passionate about the rally and she is a friend of mine and I knew she would be happy to come with me.” Sébastien Ogier is also experiencing a change in the right-hand seat. There too, no gamble, the last winner of the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo knows very well with whom he is getting involved: “Thinking about it, Benjamin [Veillas] is the first name to come to my mind. It’s a different job from test to race. He is stepping up and I can see the pressure on him a little bit – I see that and I try to relax him, the best way to do your job is not to think too much about [the pressure]. »

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