Generally speaking, winter gets the coldest and wettest in Europe right around the weekend of the Monte Carlo Rally, which begins on the 24th of January this year. And while the teams are already past their testing sessions for the stages above Monaco and the lower Alps in southern France, a few determined clouds can still change everything in the next two weeks.
The huge altitude changes in the Monte mean dry tarmac can turn into a wet and icy gamble in no time, possibly with a snowy finish at the top of a stage. No wonder why Michelin brought four compounds to the WRC season opener last year. Drivers could choose between the soft Pilot Sport S6, the ultra soft SS6, the Alpin A41 for mixed surface attack, either with or without studs.
The 2015 Monte Carlo Rally wasn't Sebastien Loeb's race. Being over a year into his retirement from the series, he finished 8th overall, some eight and a half minutes behind leader Sebastien Ogier. This remained his only WRC entry in 2015. Yet does his clearly slower pace through this tight night stage make Monte Carlo look any easier?