Robert Barrable has made a late entry and will contest the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, Rallye Monte Carlo (14 – 19 January), in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.
The car will be prepared and run by Carlisle-based rally experts CA1 Sport and challenge for WRC-2 honours on D-MACK tyres.
This will be the first time Robert has contested one of rallying’s oldest and most prestigious events – although the 26-year old Dublineer did make ice notes on last year’s Rallye Monte Carlo for his co-driver Stuart Loudon. Stuart was the only British competitor last year, finishing 44th (out of 113 starters) with Japanese driver Ryozo Saito in a Subaru Impreza.
Although this year’s route is significantly different, Robert and Stuart’s experience 12 months ago will undoubtedly help, whilst the depth of talent in the team continues with Seb Marshall (Tunnock’s World Rally Team co-ordinator) and Martin Wilkinson (CA1 Sport boss), both of which also have experience of the event.
Robert’s main rivals in the WRC-2 category are likely to be Yurii Protasov (Ukraine), Armin Kremer (Germany), Julien Maurin (France) and Lorenzo Bertelli (Italy) – all driving similar Ford Fiestas. Whilst all have vastly more Rallye Monte Carlo experience, Robert aims to challenge for a podium and start the 2014 season off with a strong points-scoring finish.
Robert: “When an opportunity came up to contest the Monte Carlo Rally, I wasn’t going to turn it down! It’s an exciting event and my main aim is to go and enjoy the experience of contesting one of the sport’s most historic rallies. Without doubt, it’s going to be the biggest challenge of my career.
“The shear size of the rally makes me a little nervous, but I drove the stages last year, I’ve got a feel for the terrain and I know what Stuart and I will need to do to make good pace notes.
“We’ve got high-hopes of scoring a good WRC-2 result, but most of all we hope the New Year brings us a little more luck and we’ll start 2014 with a good trouble-free run.”
Stuart: “I’ve been to Rallye Monte Carlo twice as a spectator and I did the event last year, so I’m really looking to returning in the Tunnock’s Fiesta. It’s good that Robert did my ice notes last year, because there was a lot of snow and ice about and he got to see how difficult the conditions can be – so between us we know what to expect, even if we won’t be the most experienced crew out there.
“Our strategy will be to see how things go on the first day and take it from there. If it goes well, we’re quietly optimistic of scoring a WRC-2 podium and bagging some early championship points. I think we have the pace of most of the opposition, but Monte Carlo is a very long rally and if the conditions are anything like they were last year, it will be extremely difficult.”
The 82nd Rallye Monte Carlo begins with a ceremonial start in Casino Square in Monaco on Tuesday 14 January. The rally moves to Gap, 410 miles (660kms) north in the Hautes-Alpes, for a shakedown (on a 2.23 mile/3.6km stretch of road near the small town of Chateauvieux) the following day, before the opening six stages on Thursday 16 January (totalling 78.05 miles/125.62kms).
Friday (17 January) is the longest day of the event in terms of stage distance, with five stages (totalling 110.82 miles/178.36kms) as crews head back to Monaco for another overnight halt. The action includes the famous 22.8 mile (36.7km) Sisteron – Thoard stage, and the Vitrolles – Col D’Espreaux – Faye test which, at 30.6 miles (49.25kms), is the longest stage of the event.
The final 49.64 miles (79.9kms) takes place on Saturday 18 January in the Alpes-Maritime region, with two high-speed runs over the legendary 14.67 mile (23.61 km) Col de Turini stage and the 10.37 mile (16.69km) Sospel – Breil sur Roya test – once by day and another by night.
After 238.53 miles (383.88kms) of competition have been completed, the event ends on Sunday 19 January with a traditional awards ceremony in the square in front of the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.