Be it motor racing or rallying Monte Carlo is steeped in heritage for every driver and not only does the principality host the 83rd running of its World famous rally this year but it also marks the beginning of the 2015 World Rally Championship. For Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen he goes there as a previous winner having won the SWRC (Super 2000) class in 2012 on his way to winning the championship that year so in some respect the enigma of what it takes to master this challenging all asphalt event, has already been unlocked. Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin are very much hoping that history will repeat itself this time using the ERC contender SAINTéLOC Racing run Peugeot 208 T16 and allow them to open their WRC-2 points scoring account in the best possible way as they begin a Peugeot supported seven round assault on the championship.
What may appear as a straight forward sealed surface rally in a nice part of the world the event hasn’t achieved its legendary status by being easy. Unpredictable mountain weather brings varied conditions where drivers can face snow, ice and dry roads sometimes in the same stage. Over the course of the event it’s sometimes the brave tyre choices or tactics that will reward the brave as the teams strive for a balance between tyre grip and longevity through the long twisty stages. Pre event shakedown takes place on Wednesday (Jan 21st) afternoon but it’s not until after the cars cross the start ramp in “Place du Casino” on Thursday evening (22nd) that things will get serious for the Peugeot pair when the cars will set off into the darkness to tackle two 20km stages on their way North to Gap, the host city for day one.
Although experience will play a valuable role in reading the conditions and the changing grip level this year the rally boasts a 75% route change compared to that of last year. Friday (23rd) is made up of three new stages in quick succession north of Gap with the loop repeated again after a midday service. Saturday brings the rally back to its roots when the cars will transverse some of the more familiar classic stages as they take the long way back to Monaco. The final leg Sunday (25th) will keep with tradition seeing the action in the Alpes Maritimes Mountains above Monaco and featuring the iconic “Col de Turini” which is sure to draw thousands of spectators. The crews then return for the finish outside the Palace in Monaco, with monarch Prince Albert presenting the prizes. You can keep up to date with Craig’s 2015 season by visiting www.craigbreen.com or www.peugeot-sport.com.