Busch participates in Monster Energy Monza Rally Show
Kurt Busch can’t resist the opportunity to challenge his motorsports prowess.
So when Monster Energy presented the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion with the opportunity to run in the Monza Rally Show last weekend, he answered the call.
For Busch, testing his limits are nothing new. He’s explored opportunities in the NHRA, the Rolex 24 and in May won rookie honors in the Indianapolis 500 after finishing sixth. But rally cars were a completely new animal.
“It was incredible,” Busch told Motorsport.com by phone Monday night. “Monster called a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to drive with Ken Block. I never experienced anything else like it.
“It was like drinking through a funnel, but I guess that’s how I like to do things.”
The driving conditions were unlike anything else Busch had competed in as well. Although he had four hours on Thursday to make recognizance runs around the circuit with his co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino in a rental car, navigating in the rain and fog proved so difficult through one of the stages that Busch was forced to radio in for his location.
Over the course of the three-day event, Busch took the first stage “smooth and slow”. He experienced problems with the hairpin turn in the second stage while trying to negotiate the hand brake. Busch felt his third and fourth stages were “ok” but preferred the longer stages where he could build a rhythm between the original Monza course and the current circuit used in F1 competition.
“It’s very precise driving in inconsistent conditions,” Busch said. “There were 44 different apexes over 10 kilometers, tons of corners, tons of unknowns.”
The NASCAR champ felt the advantage eventual winner Robert Kubica and runner up, three-time victor Valentino Rossi established in the early stages made it unlikely that any one else would catch the leaders. Still, had it not been for a flat right front tire with three laps remaining in the fifth stage, Busch feels he could have finished 15th instead of 33rd.
“It was cool being on the historic circuit in the great little town of Monza,” Busch said. “I really enjoyed it. This was my first real international experience and the number one most unique situation I’ve ever been in. It reminded me of the NHRA Pro Stock deal when I went in there with zero experience.
“I’ll go into Race of Champions (Dec. 13-14) cold turkey – but it will be warm in Barbados, so that will be nice.”