The rally’s organisers (ACM) are aware that this week’s event has been exceptionally long, especially in comparison to the more compact WRC formats to which we have been accustomed in recent years. “It’s true that the Shakedown early on Tuesday and the short Power Stage have added extra days,” acknowledged the ACM’s General Commissioner, Michel Ferry, at the FIA press conference on Friday morning. “We are already looking at ways to produce a more coherent programme for 2013…”
An ACM spokesperson told us that the Power Stage was scheduled on Sunday following a request from the championship’s now defunct promoter, North One Sport, because of the better chance it offered of being taken up by TV. In the end, however, it will not be broadcast live by the country’s mainstream channel TF1 as originally planned.
For the record, event itineraries must be lodged with the FIA at least five months before each round, and any changes must be notified within a period of two weeks. So Sunday’s slot has pretty much been set in concrete since last summer…
Today marks the second year of the so-called Power Stage, a test included at the end of events where the three fastest drivers stand to pocket three, two and one ‘bonus’ championship points. The concept was introduced last February, in Sweden, and there has traditionally been a small ceremony for the winner at the end of it. No such ceremony has been included this time round, however, and the crew which provisionally posts the best effort will not have to wait until the end, or until its time is bettered, which is the normal protocol. Instead, competitors will travel directly to the main podium festivities in front of the Prince’s Palace, on the ‘Rock’ in Monaco.
As usual, the first 10 competitors will start in the reverse order of Saturday evening’s provisional classification, at three-minute intervals. The stage itself (Sainte Agnès/Col de la Madone) uses a 5.16km portion of a former Monte classic and features a twisty, narrow, high-grip road which has the Mediterranean Sea as its backdrop.