How the weather could make a big dif­fer­ence

Motor Sport News - - Review: Autosport Show - Jack Cozens

This year’s Au­tosport Show was my first as a mem­ber of staff and blew away my pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences of the event – but there was one ex­hibit on the F1 Rac­ing stand that will stay with me for a while.

A plan to ar­rive pre-show on Satur­day failed to ma­te­ri­alise, so in­stead I hung around un­til the fi­nal min­utes of the day to catch a quiet mo­ment with a car I’ve longed to see: the Hes­keth 308B.

It was by no means the great­est to grace For­mula 1. Based on the March 731, five of the six driv­ers to race the Hes­keth 308 and sub­se­quent B model failed to score points; only James Hunt could un­lock its po­ten­tial.

The Hunt-hes­keth story is one that’s well-told, but while it’s the life­style, ri­valry with Niki Lauda and world cham­pi­onship suc­cess that Hunt is best re­mem­bered for, the 308B was the car in which he scored his first grand prix win and helped him to re­ally catch the eyes of Mclaren.

The rest is his­tory – and while it may well pre­date me by a good few years, it was a treat to get close to a car that helped launch one of the great­est char­ac­ters in the his­tory of the sport.

Freez­ing con­di­tions from the east com­bined with the big­gest reg­u­la­tory changes in two decades will make this week’s Monte Carlo Rally one of the most un­pre­dictable events in years.

Tem­per­a­tures in the moun­tains around Gap could dive as low as mi­nus 15 at times dur­ing the sea­son opener – forcing a com­pro­mise in tyre se­lec­tion as the crews at­tempt to sec­ond-guess the con­di­tions.

Such con­di­tions reg­u­larly bring the op­por­tu­nity for wide time dif­fer­ences in stages, mean­ing round one could ul­ti­mately cloud the po­si­tions of the teams after a sea­son of devel­op­ment on their 2017 World Rally Cars.

M-sport’s head of rally devel­op­ment Chris Wil­liams ad­mit­ted he was ready for such an out­come this week.

“The first two stages on Thurs­day night are the ones ev­ery­body has been wait­ing for, but will it be a straight fight?” said Wil­liams. “We could have an aw­ful lot of snow; we could have a snowy as­phalt road; we just don’t know what the con­di­tions will be like or how they will change as the cars pass. There will be a lot of ques­tions about whether the per­for­mance is the car, the driver or the tyres. You could end that first night say­ing: ‘Well, that was in­ter­est­ing, but I’ve still got no idea where we stand.’

“Re­mem­ber, we’ve seen Robert [Ku­bica] do this be­fore. He’s found him­self in the right place on the road with the right tyres on, he’s a com­pe­tent driver run­ning some risk and sud­denly he’s fastest and fastest by some mar­gin. It’s the Monte, it could be com­pletely in­con­clu­sive. I think it’s pretty sure that there won’t be a lot of sleep the night be­fore. There’ll be some very anx­ious mo­ments be­fore that first split.”

Heavy snow would skew the times

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