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ERC NEWS 

Meeke: First Monte stage crucial

Kris MeekeDefending IRC champion Kris Meeke says tomorrow's four stages will be crucial in deciding who wins this year's Monte Carlo Rally.

The opening leg includes two loops of two long stages: SS1/3 Burzet-Lachamp Raphael at 17 miles and SS2/4 St Pierreville-Antraigues at 28 miles.

The crews will make their decision on which tyres to use at 11am, but won't start the long stage for two hours after that. The Burzet test is likely to be trickier of the two stages, given that it rises to 1,410 metres and is the second highest stage on the event.

"That first stage is probably going to be 50 per cent snow," said Meeke. "What do you do? It's a real gamble with tyres, but that's what this event is all about.

"Once we get through that stage, then there's the longest stage of the event to contend with on the same set of tyres. It's fair to say this rally is pretty much all about getting the tyre choice absolutely perfect. Get one wrong and you can be out of the running in no time."

The second stage is thought less likely to be affected by snow, running at a lower altitude, the test peaks at 876 metres.

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