The Day Rick ran out of talent!
The classification part of the Historic Monte Carlo started this morning heading for Valence out of the overnight halt in Monaco.
With 10h35 of route our 10am start time meant a small lie in but a late finish... It also meant we could check the early runners results before we left and it became obvious they were struggling with the first ZR (zone regularity)... so we switched the front tyres to studs on the run up to the hills.
In fact the stage was pretty uneventful apart from a slight meltdown from co-pilot "Frozone" and the fact it was ridiculously narrow. We got slightly behind the target and never got it back. The sheet ice caught out a couple of cars and a rather nice Mini lost an argument with a bridge parapet.
A long (250km) liaison to the 2nd stage of the day was initially dry but then the snow came in hard.
The stage itself was sheet ice covered in snow. The ACM decided (in their wisdom) that they weren't lowering the target average of 47km/hr and we launched into ZR3 determined to stay on the pace. However less than 2km into the stage a wide downhill left hander tempted me in at a much too fast speed and caught out by the total lack of grip I ran out of talent in spectacular fashion and couldn't stop the car running wide into the outside snow bank.
Perched on the bank on the edge of quite a drop it took some friendly spectators 5 mins to get us back up and running. We made back half the deficit by the end of the stage but 20000 points ended our chance of a good result.
Spirits were pretty low in the car afterwards.
On the following road leg the Fulvia had developed a vibration from the rear and in the pouring snow we missed our planned fuel stop. Combined with the effort put in to catch up the time lost earlier where we'd been flat out on the stages meant we never made the reserve stop and I spent an enjoyable few minutes filling a stranded car from a churn by the side of the road in a blizzard!
Pushing onto the first official break at Gare de Celles (at 17h55) without anything to eat or drink since breakfast we were sad to see the food truck was already closed!
We had a quick 10 minute leg stretch then headed into ZR4 as it was getting dark. Sadly the impending loss of light meant a lot of the spectators had decided to go home... by driving up the stage towards us!!! Given that the surface was basically sheet ice with a heavy coating of snow this got more and more interesting until finally we were completely blocked by spectators chatting to their buddies by the side of the road!! Unimpressed didn't really cover it given how hard we'd been trying to that point.
It was nearly 8pm, very dark and snowing hard by the time we got to the last stage, the famous Col D'Echaresson. And the crew were having hallucinations of beer and pizza at this point. Quick at the start and very fast (100kph+ on snow) at the end we were in survival mode as the stage was heavily rutted and like driving across a ploughed field.
By the end of the stage we were very tight on time into the next Control and had to hurl the little Fulvia into the checkpoint with Fred sprinting to check in on time (to the second).
The vibration from the rear of the car was getting very bad as we headed into Valence and we had to pull over and change the right rear wheel which had buckled!! 200m later the vibration was back and the left rear had also failed but in a different fashion(around the wheel studs) so we had to crawl onto a motorway slip road to change that one too!
Unsurprisingly we were 10 minutes late into Valence so adding more penalties to a tough day. But we're still in the rally and the car feels fine when it did feel all over on the side of the motorway at 9.30pm in driving sleet!
Shattered now. Here's to an easier day tomorrow.