“Fi­nally, good news for Welsh ral­ly­ing”

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Next year’s Monte Carlo Rally – the first event for the next gen­er­a­tion of World Rally Cars – will be 85 per cent new com­pared with this year.

The Au­to­mo­bile Club de Monaco re­vealed de­tails of the 2017 sea­son opener ear­lier this week. The big­gest change to the itinerary is the loss of the leg­endary Sis­teron stage, which has tra­di­tion­ally been the last ac­tion in the HauteAlpes re­gion be­fore the cars head south for Monaco.

The sea­son of­fi­cially starts on Mon­day Jan­uary 16, when the crews em­bark on two and a half days of recce in the French Alps. Shake­down re­mains the same as last year, close to Gap. The cer­e­mo­nial start is out of Monaco on Thurs­day Jan­uary 19 at 1815 with two stages planned be­fore an overnight in Gap.

The sec­ond of those two tests (Bayons-beziers) is new and re­places Sis­teron on the run south.

Fri­day is the long­est day of the event with 100 miles of re­vers­ing the run­ning or­der of the top 10 on the fi­nal day.

The Manch­ester driver said he sym­pa­thised with WRC’S Se­bastien Ogier and his plight at run­ning first on the road.

“The stages felt per­fect but it was slow be­cause it was loose. I know how Ogier feels now, it’s mad.

“We went to bed and only then found out we were first on the road. We didn’t know [on the su­per spe­cial]. We were 11th go­ing in to the su­per­spe­cial but pushed on a moved up to 10th. That put us first on the road.”

Event changes for 2017

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