Hi everyone, Monte Carlo… a mythical name for a legendary rally. Probably the most epic, challenging, treacherous and beautiful rally, but also the cruellest of all. And the vintage of 2017 did live up to its reputation. For all the teams, this first stage is a way to assess themselves against the other competitors, since a new generation of cars, more powerful and more aggressive, was introduced this year. And the least we can say is that the Hyundai engineers have designed a really good car.
From the first hectometres, we knew that we could make it. A feeling that was confirmed by two fastes times during Thursday’s night stages … Stages for “big boys” 😉. An i20 WRC that works and a confident crew, this is the mixture that enabled us to achieve great performances on the snow and ice-covered roads this Friday. At the end of the day, we were leading and we had a 45 seconds lead over Seb Ogier.
The next day, on a dry tarmac, we stayed ahead of our rivals and we took the start ot the last stage of the day as clear leaders… but Monte reminded us that it can sometimes be cruel. At the thirteenth kilometre of the thirteenth stage*, the back of our Hyundai slid off in a slow curve and clattered into a bank hidden in the grass. The result was a rim and a suspension arm both broken. Such serious consequences for our only small mistake of the rally…
A makeshift repair later—Thierry and I ‘played the mechanics’ for 29 minutes—, we reached Gap on time and our mechanics—world’s best!—fixed our car. As a thank you, Thierry set another incredible time in the Power Stage, which means 5 more points for the championship. A nice consolation prize.
What should we remember of this first round? Only positive! The team did an amazing job—special mention to our recce crew Bruno Thiry and Renaud Herman—, the Hyundai is already incredibly efficient and the pace throughout the rally are boosting us to do an even better job in Sweden!
Finally, I cannot end up without reminding you one more time that even though rally is a wonderful sport, it is also dangerous… The tragic events that took place on Thursday evening remind us of this once more. If we want the WRC to keep amazing us, we must all follow the safety instructions.
Thanks to all of you for your support.
* I’m not superstitious, but I have to go: I’m going to get myself a horseshoe and a four-leaf clover.