Michal Kosciuszko reflects on day two 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
Hello again from Valence!
This is the last time I'll be able to say that, because tomorrow after midday service, we start our journey down to Monte Carlo and the new service park.
Today was a better day. We moved up seven places overall and our MINI was in top shape! We had a few 'moments', but nothing that stopped us moving ever closer to our goal of getting to the end of 'the Monte'.
With unpredictable weather conditions from the outset and reports of heavy snow in places, we headed out on snow-studded DMACK tyres again. The day opened with SS5, which went well. Our pace was better and we started to get an idea of the car 'in anger'. Unfortunately, about 21km into SS6 (not far from the finish!), snow being blown across a corner obscured the braking point and we clipped the rear-right of the car damaging the suspension. Despite having to work on frozen ground, we stopped on the road section to see what we could do. Not to be defeated, we decided to brave the cold and patched the problem up well enough to get the MINI back on form, able to reach to refuel and survive SS7.
At midday service, the mechanics repaired the problem and sent us out for the afternoon loop. SS8 conditions were very tricky and we didn't want to push and take risks when we still needed to learn the car. However, we're always getting to know the MINI better and were already more confident by SS9. It was a shame to spin on SS10, but the only damage to the car was superficial and we didn't have any problems getting back to service.
Today was a big lesson for me. Each stage here at Rallye Monte Carlo is like a new lesson and I try to get the most I can out of each one. We need to find a good rhythm and this is a real challenge, because grip levels are continually changing. As a driver, you need to control your car 100% to drive fast here.
As I said yesterday, now I'm looking forward to Sisteron tomorrow afternoon – although I just heard that there is heavy snow lying on the stage, so it could be another epic adventure! It's a rally of survival at the moment, but it's our aim to keep improving and stay in the game. Fingers-crossed for a good run on Day Three.
For now – as always, wish me luck!