“I was very very care­ful on ice”

Motor Sport News - - Rally Monte Carlo -

Iget asked to do a lot of ex­cit­ing things with Re­nault each year, but when some­body called and asked if I would like to drive two stages of the Monte Carlo Rally… this was def­i­nitely the best thing the For­mula 1 team could ask the son of a World Rally cham­pion.

That’s how I ended up at the start of the Col de Turini and Col de Braus stages in a New Me­gane R.S. on Sun­day.

And I loved it. It was dream come true to drive over the Turini with three or four kilo­me­tres of ice – as you can imag­ine, my dad has told me so many sto­ries and there are so many anec­dotes about these stages so to be there was so spe­cial.

I’ve been re­ally busy with train­ing for the new sea­son re­cently and only flew in early in the morn­ing, so I couldn’t do a recce of the stages. I talked to my co-driver ear­lier in the week and I told him just to grade the notes quite sim­ply: we had one to six for the speed, with six be­ing the fastest. Then he gave me the dis­tances be­tween each [cor­ner] and the places where you need to sac­ri­fice one cor­ner for the other. Most es­pe­cially he told me the ar­eas with the ice and gravel – there was a lot of gravel in the pow­er­stage.

This was a lot to take in at the start, but as I got to know the pacenotes, all of a sud­den I started to feel more to­gether and I could push a bit more – but only when it was dry and I was con­fi­dent of the grip.

Be­fore I came here, my dad asked me about 100 times to be care­ful. It was not a day to try some­thing spe­cial and to do some­thing spe­cial with­out proper prepa­ra­tion.

My dad pre­pares ev­ery­thing in de­tail and I would have loved to come here two days in ad­vance to put into prac­tice all his tips about how to pre­pare a stage. That would had given me even more con­fi­dence with the new Re­nault Me­gane RS, but to­day was all about en­joy­ing.

Com­ing up the hill on the Turini stage, I was look­ing and wait­ing, then my co-driver said: “The col is com­ing,” and we came through the right and left and over the top: there it was. So many mem­o­ries came to my mind when we came into this place. The at­mos­phere was in­cred­i­ble, but it was hard to take it all in. I slowed down over the top, but this was be­cause of the ice. I tried a cou­ple of times the brake to feel the car.

The con­di­tions from there down the hill to the fin­ish of that stage were so slip­pery and re­ally tricky. There were a cou­ple of kink cor­ners, as we call them on cir­cuits, where it was dif­fi­cult to keep the foot down. I had the win­ter tyre, but I didn’t have the stud, which is why in the ice I was very steady!

I’d never driven the new Re­nault Me­gane R.S. be­fore, but I’m so im­pressed – it has so much power and drives re­ally nicely.

Be­ing in Monaco with­out the GP was strange, but it was an amaz­ing at­mos­phere on prob­a­bly the best rally in the world.

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