Michal Kosciuszko reflects on the opening day of Rallye Monte Carlo, the first round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship and his first competitive outing with the Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC
Good evening everyone,
Well, we always knew that Monte was going to be challenge and today certainly proved that! Most importantly, we're happy to have completed both loops of stages successfully and be back at evening service. As I said earlier in the week, it's a rally of endurance. We've made it through the first test and will be fit to fight another day tomorrow!
We headed out this morning in our MINI John Cooper Works WRC on snow-studded DMACK tyres and started off well. However, 8km into SS1 we began to have some problems with a fuel injector. When a fuel injector fails, there is no fuel flow. This causes a cylinder to fail and the engine to lose power. For us, it meant that we had to complete SS1 and SS2 on only three cylinders.
That said, we were pleased to make it safely back to midday service where the mechanics did a fantastic job. They worked on the car flat out to replace the part - alongside softening the set-up a little to improve turn into icy corners - and we managed to get out on time for the second loop (still on our trusty snow-studded tyres).
Unfortunately, we had another fuel injector fail early in SS3, this time costing us a different cylinder. Then approximately 22km into SS3 we picked up a front left puncture. We stopped to change the tyre and this lost us just under two minutes.
We didn't really have an opportunity to test our MINI's limits under these conditions. I did learn a little about how the chassis works, but our focus became the end of the day and making it back to service. After all, tomorrow's another day and with Monte, if you're still in the mix, anything can happen!
There are three days of rally stages to go now. If the conditions are similar to when we did recce, on Day Two we'll face two dry stages and one snow-covered test. I hope to have a better day tomorrow, especially, because the stage I'm most looking forward to is Sisteron on Friday. On recce this 36,70km stage was around 30km of dry Tarmac and the rest full snow. That means we'll probably go for a slick tyre, so that we can push on the asphalt, but we'll have to be very careful on the ice!
Before we get that far though, we need to conquer Day Two.
Wish us luck!
Bye for now...