Extract from Official FIA Press Release
Just weeks after Richard Burns and Peugeot secured the 2001 FIA
World Rally Championship titles, the defence of their respective
crowns begins tomorrow morning on the opening round of the 2002
series, the Rallye Monte Carlo. Burns and Peugeot have joined forces
for 2002, kick-starting one of the biggest shake-ups of the rally
transfer market in recent years. Four-times world champion Tommi
Mäkinen moves from Mitsubishi to replace Burns at Subaru, while
Francois Delecour and Alister McRae have joined Ralliart to form
the team's first brand-new driver line-up in seven years. All seven
manufacturer teams will be present on the notoriously fickle
mountain passes north of Monaco.
The changes aren't confined to the teams, either. Changes to the
starting order rules mean that while the drivers will start tomorrow's
first stages in last year's championship classification order, the
top 15 at the end of each leg will be reversed for the following
morning. And the manufacturers' series has been made more straight
forward - instead of having just two nominated entries, manufacturers
will be able to score points with the two highest-placed cars from
their official entries.
Technical: Peugeot's 206 WRCs are essentially the same specification
as those which contested Sanremo and Corsica towards the end of last
season. All three cars are brand new for this event and they will run
three computer-controlled 'active' differentials. Gilles Panizzi's car
is also fitted with a hydraulic anti-roll bar.
Sporting: Peugeot has entered three official cars - for reigning world
champion Richard Burns, 2000 title-holder Marcus Grönholm and asphalt
expert Gilles Panizzi. The team's fourth regular driver, Harri
Rovanperä, will drive a 206 WRC run by private team Bozian.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "It's going to be a tough rally here.
The dry weather will probably help me a bit, because it's at least
consistent and the conditions are similar to whenever I did my pre-event
test. But I think everyone will benefit from drier roads anyway. I've
got a pretty good feeling with the car now, but I'll be happy to get
a few points to start the season."
Marcus Grönholm said: "It's very difficult to say what will happen in
Monte Carlo. There's no obvious favourite here. I only did one day's
full testing for this event but the car felt quite good."
Gilles Panizzi said: "I feel quite confident. We did quite a good
test for this rally and even though it's Monte Carlo, it looks like
the conditions will be pretty dry. We know the 206 WRC is a good car
for asphalt, but this rally hasn't been kind to Peugeot in the past
few years so I just hope we get a clean run."
Technical: Ford is the only team to introduce its 2002-specification
car in Monte Carlo. The Focus RS WRC02 features a host of revisions
over its predecessor, concentrating on the engine. The motor features
a revised cylinder head as well as lighter flywheel and crankshaft,
and different cooling. The Focus's power steering pump has been
moved as well to make it less vulnerable to impact damage on rougher
roads. Other changes to the car include a different dashboard layout
(with all switches relocated lower in the console) and a repositioned
Sporting: Ford has entered three Focus RS WRC02s - for Colin McRae
and Carlos Sainz, and for new signing Markko Märtin. The team will
field all three drivers on all 14 rounds of this year's FIA World
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "Monte Carlo's the sort of rally where it's
hard to predict any sort of performance or a result. The car's felt
encouraging in testing, but that doesn't mean anything until we see
the times from the first few stages and even then, so much depends
on the conditions here that it's difficult to draw conclusions. I'm
just hoping for reliability and a good finish."
Carlos Sainz said: "I'm looking forward to the new season. Testing
has been quite good and we have quite a few changes with the car -
but we need to wait and see in some consistent conditions before we
can see how we are against the rest."
Markko Martin said: "I've had some testing for this event and the
car feels quite positive, but even if I'd had ten days' running I'd
still have the same aim - I just want to reach the finish here."
Technical: Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart engineers have concentrated
on improving the set-up of the Lancer Evolution WRC this year, since
its debut towards the end of the 2001 season allowed little time for
development. Revised suspension geometry and a lower ride height have
improved handling, and the team has also trimmed 50kg from the car's
weight. That now allows Ralliart to play with ballast to improve the
Sporting: Mitsubishi has a totally new driver line-up for 2002.
Francois Delecour moves from Ford (Mitsubishi is his third team in
three years), while Alister McRae has switched from a Hyundai Accent
to the Lancer. McRae has changed his back-up crew, too - father Jimmy
will now prepare gravel notes for his younger rallying son instead
of Ford driver Colin.
Quotes: Francois Delecour said: "It's difficult to predict anything
about the Monte Carlo Rally, because it's just such a hard event. But
during the test in the winter I had a good feeling for the car. I'm
not going to say that I am going to win - but I think we have a
chance to fight for the victory."
Alister McRae said: "My first impressions of the car are very good.
The set-ups we've found in both the snow and the asphalt feel strong.
This is still really a learning year for me - when you look at
rallies like here, where I've only competed once before, and the
Safari, where I've never competed at all, then I need more experience."
Technical: Subaru's Imprezas will run in essentially the same mechanical
specification as 2001. The team has concentrated instead on modifying
software set-up in the differentials, as well as suspension and damper
settings, to 'catch up' with engine and tyre progress over the past
Sporting: The team has entered two Impreza WRC2001s for Monte Carlo,
to be driven by new signing Tommi Mäkinen and young Norwegian Petter
Solberg. Subaru Team Director David Lapworth confirmed at the team's
press launch yesterday afternoon that three Imprezas will be seen on
selected rallies this year, but only when necessary. The team has
renewed its sponsorship deal with British American Tobacco's 555 brand.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "The Impreza is a completely different
car to drive than the Lancer. The biggest thing I've noticed so far
is the braking - I had to adjust my driving style because I can brake
much later into the corners with the Impreza. As for Monte Carlo,
I've already won this rally three years in a row, which is quite a
good record. But I'd still like to make it four!"
Petter Solberg said: "I feel optimistic for Monte Carlo and the
season ahead. We've tested quite a lot for this rally and tried some
new stuff with suspension and differentials. I think we've made a
big step forward on tarmac. Tommi has done some interesting things
to the car already that have made quite a good effect."
Technical: All three Octavia WRCs will use a Lehmann-tuned engine
that was tried for the first time by Armin Schwarz on last year's
Rally of Great Britain. Skoda has confirmed that it intends to
launch a new evolution of the Octavia WRC in April.
Sporting: Skoda has entered three Octavia WRCs on this event - for
new regular drivers Kenneth Eriksson and Toni Gardemeister, and
young Czech driver Roman Kresta. Eriksson has changed his co-driver
for the 2002 season - he's now navigated by Tina Thorner.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "It's a great challenge for me. I'm
in a new car with a new co-driver after many years with Staffan
(Parmander). The Octavia's been running well in my early tests, so
I'm positive. Anything can happen on the Monte."
Toni Gardemeister said: "Monte Carlo seems to like me - I've had
some good results here in the past. So I'm hoping for a points finish
here - the Octavia is an easy car to drive and the handling is very
Technical: The Hyundai team has made a few significant changes to
the Accent WRC2 over the winter - in particular, the cars now run
on Proflex dampers and a revised suspension system. That aside,
Hyundai's rally partner Motor Sport Developments has adapted the car's
differential settings to new drivers Freddy Loix and Armin Schwarz,
while continuing to work on the WRC3 model that will make its debut
after the first quarter of the season.
Sporting: Hyundai has completely changed its driver line-up for 2002.
Former European champion Armin Schwarz has joined the team after
three years at Skoda, while young Belgian Freddy Loix swaps from a
Mitsubishi Lancer to the Accent WRC2. Both drivers will tackle the
Rallye Monte Carlo. Four-times world champion Juha Kankkunen will
contest much of this year's FIA World Rally Championship for Hyundai
and Polish driver Tomasz Kuchar will also be present on the asphalt
rounds, starting with the Catalunya Rally.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: "After my first few tests with the Accent
I can say that it has a lot of potential. Of course there is work to
be done, and we have been able to put our finger straight to the
problems that need to be fixed. Some of those will be fixed now and
some will have to wait until the WRC3. I expect the Rallye Monte
Carlo to be as tricky as ever - last year I nearly finished on the
podium here with the Skoda, so if conditions change then anything
Technical: The Xsara WRCs are only slightly modified from the
specification that won the Tour de Corse last autumn. The Citroen
mechanics were forced to change an engine at this morning's shakedown,
however, when the motor in Sebastien Loeb's Xsara blew in the Sospel
Sporting: Citroen has entered three Xsara WRCs on the first of the
team's seven outings in the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship. Swede
Thomas Radstrom (on his first Rallye Monte Carlo) and Frenchmen
Sebastien Loeb and Philippe Bugalski will drive the cars. Radstrom
is now navigated by Denis Giraudet, although the pair have competed
Quotes: Sebastien Loeb said: "I really want the conditions to stay
dry for me here. If that is the case then I am quite hopeful that we
can have a good drive here. Testing has been quite positive. I don't
know if we can repeat the performance that we showed in Sanremo last
year - Monte Carlo's a very hard rally and you need lots of experience
here - but I will try, of course."
Beyond the manufacturer World Rally Car entries, a number of privateer
crews will have hopes of scoring points or better. Former Monte Carlo
winner Didier Auriol brings a Toyota Corolla WRC, while last year's
Tour de Corse winner Jesus Puras will use a Subaru Impreza.
The Rallye Monte Carlo is the opening round of the 2002 FIA Junior
World Rally Championship, and the category has attracted a stunning
entry. In total, 28 drivers will start the event and eight different
manufacturers will be 'represented' - Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Peugeot,
Suzuki, Volkswagen, Opel and MG. Last year's runner-up, Italian
Andrea Dallavilla (Citroen Saxo), will probably start as slight
favourite, although he can expect stiff opposition from any one
of a dozen rivals. Likely challengers include Francois Duval (Ford
Puma), Giandomenico Basso (Fiat Puma) and Niall McShea (Opel Corsa).
Leg 1, Friday 18th January (704.56km)
06:00 Start from Monaco
09:48 SS 1 Selonnet - Turriers 28.74km
11:06 SS 2 Sisteron - Thoard 36.73km
13:39 SS 3 Selonnet - Turriers 28.74km
14:57 SS 4 Sisteron - Thoard 36.73km
18:25 SS 5 Puget-Theniers - Toudon 26.76km
20:00 End of leg 1 in Monaco
Leg 2, Saturday 19th January (486.50km)
08:13 Start from Monaco
10:08 SS 6 Pont de Clans - Villars-sur-Var 12.08km
10:51 SS 7 Puget-Theniers - Toudon 26.76km
13:49 SS 8 Coaraze - Loda 23.05km
14:32 SS 9 La Bollene - Turini - Moulinet 23.47km
18:09 SS 10 Coaraze - Loda 23.05km
18:56 SS 11 La Bollene - Turini - Moulinet 23.47km
20:40 End of leg 2 in Monaco
Leg 3, Sunday 20th January (270.22km)
07:33 Start from Monaco
09:13 SS 12 Sospel - Turini - La Bollene 32.85km
10:08 SS 13 Loda - Luceram 16.55km
12:33 SS 14 Sospel - Turini - La Bollene 32.85km
13:28 SS 15 Loda - Luceram 16.55km
15:02 Finish of the rally in Monaco