Get a Grip in the Snow

With the eighty first Monte Carlo Rally being cut short on Saturday night of the last two stages due to hazardous weather conditions, Sebastian Loeb went on to win in the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi team, leading from the second stage and drove his DS3 faultlessly in treacherous weather to win by 1min 39.9sec.

I listened without a break (almost) to the World Rally Championship radio broadcast whilst the cars drove on some of the world’s most famous but dangerous routes: St Nazaire le Desert to Le Motte, Chalancon Moulinet to La Boullen Vesubie and Lantosque to Lucéram, whilst here in the UK our roads were becoming not too dissimilar to those travelled by Loeb and his fellow championship drivers.

I wanted to hear how these drivers were coping, to understand what it could have been like in the rallies in the 1920’s and 30’s for my new book Girl Racers, a period of time that for so many women, was of pure empowerment and where women and men simply crossed the boundaries of what we are used to today. Were ANY women driving in the rally this weekend?

The world of Twitter UK was at full blast, complete with snow forecasts, news reports of people getting stuck and without supplies. People in Europe and America have the same snow as us in the UK but have been prepared for this for years and is it not about time that Britain wakes up to the fact that snow tyres ought to be properly advertised and snow chains brought onto the garage shelves before the cold weather front arrives. I wonder how many people in the UK even have a set of snow chains?

My first encounter with them was when I worked on a reconnaissance journey for our team during the Rally Monte Carlo Historic – of which the 16th edition begins in just one week – and if I may add, there ARE woman only teams competing! Our journey on the infamous Turini was indeed covered with snow and in a blizzard I put the chains on to allow us to continue the journey. Which we did.

Today I watched an awe inspiring film made in 1933 of the Swedish Winter Grand Prix, where cars raced through the mountains and forests somewhere underneath the white was a track and cars had studs or chains racing around and keeping their steadfastness to the road – albeit with some rather skillful maneuvers and control – In 1933 when technology on cars was a somewhat more basic. So why do our roads come to a standstill with a spot of snow today?

Last year when I had the chance to test out the Lexus 450RX with snow tyres in La Clusaz, whilst on a skiing trip, I was so confident of driving on the icy roads, that driving this winter in my two-wheel-drive Landrover Freelander, on our British roads, I wonder if even chains would help with this elephant, that is missing its prop shaft.

Next week, when the Rally Monte Carlo Historic begins, I will pretend to pack my Millican bags, pretend to charge my batteries for my Leica camera and tune into the radio to hear how the drivers are coping with the snow in the mountains above Monte Carlo. Rather a lot better than we are coping on some flat terrains here I reckon.

To find out how you can win a day with Bentley and tickets to Goodwood Revival please see Girl Racers for further information.