Yes, in this COVID-19 world the final round of the World Rally Championship has found itself not in somewhere boiling hot and dusty like Australia or Spain, or even on the muddy roads of Wales for Rally GB. The WRC party has actually descended on Milan, or rather the royal park at Monza.
This is a very different Monza to the one you are used to. Yes the high-speed long straights are still there, yes the Parabolica, Curva Grande and co are still fearsome challenges. But it’s not a baking hot August day, in fact it’s snowy, foggy and the beginning of winter.
This video is the full shakedown from today (3rd December) as the cars took to the track for the first time. Several stages will be run around Monza itself, including using the internal roads and the oval, with more out and about in the mountains. Conditions have become so treacherous that Michelin has brought specific snow rubber for this event.
Just to demonstrate that it is going to be a tough weekend, Elfyn Evans – current championship leader – spins and damages his Toyota Yaris almost immediately. But the sight of the cars in fog and snow, taking parts of this iconic circuit in reverse are some parts bizarre, but most parts awesome.
As a recap, this is the final round of the shortened 2020 season, and four drivers can still claim the crown. Current champion Ott Tänak has a very outside chance (needing the other three to retire and to win both rally and powerstage) while team-mate Thierry Neuville – runner-up three seasons in a row – also has an small chance at victory.
The main contenders though are Toyota pair Elfyn Evans and six-time champ Sébastien Ogier. Ogier could claim a seventh crown if he wins and Evans finishes no higher than fifth, but victory or fourth or above would make Evans only the third British WRC Champ in history. Amazingly considering the nation’s rallying pedigree, he would also be the first ever Welsh champion.
Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a mid-morning helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: GR Yaris onboard at the Nürburgring