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2021 Rallye de Monte-Carlo

February 24, 2021

2021 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo

Let me share what exactly was my main job at this event. I was the driver of Sean Johnston and Alex Kihurani Gravel Crew (also called “Ice Crew” or “Route Note Crew”), co-driven by Mike Gilbey.

This means that Mike and I had the privilege of making the most final changes in Sean’s and Alex’s pace notes, which they had no chance but to accept, because they received them right before they started the stages.

The reason this job exists on tarmac rallies is because mud, gravel and other rubbish can get pulled onto the asphalt by recce and rally cars ahead of our boys and we (the Gravel Crew) can drive the stage 1-2 hours before rally cars and give them the most recent updates.

The reason this job is super critical at an event like Monte is because weather and altitude conditions often change road conditions drastically between when the driver and co-driver see the stages on recce and when they attack the stage in a rally car (usually 2-3 days later).

The nature of this event causes the craziest possible mix of conditions: dry tarmac with super high grip and sheer ICE! And all this on steep mountain roads, often lined by cliffs! So, rally drivers often commit to blind corners solely based on the information provided by the Gravel Crew. This year we had hundreds of corners and braking zones which changed from tarmac to ice and vice versa.

Anyone who knows me does know that I am proper committed when driving a rally car, but even I got goosebumps when I added things to pace notes and I realized that 2 humans will be accelerating over this blind crest to over 150 km/h JUST BECAUSE I AM TELLING THEM TO, even though when they saw this road 2 days ago, it was covered with polished ice, and you could not go faster than 50 km/h.

The job of a top level Gravel Crew is not limited to the above, but what I’ve described here are the key things. So, huge kudos to the boys for literally trusting their lives to me and Mike!

It was awesome to work the crazy hours (up at 3:30 AM and finish next days analysis around 10+ pm, etc.), it was amazing to have a chance to learn from no other than Alex Bengue, to drive a PROPER recce car prepped by Sainteloc team, to know that we are TRUSTED 100% and to receive the super high praise.

Lastly: another cool part about this is that there’s no limit to perfection, things can always be improved, made even better, this is why I LOOOOOVE rallying! And this applies to the relationship between Rally and Gravel Crews, so we’ll do an even better job at the next rally!

P.S. Now that we are so in sync, Sean has no choice but to be my Gravel Crew driver, when I will enter my 1st Rallye Monte Carlo!

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posted in Blog by Crazy Leo

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