Monte Carlo Rally
The Monte Carlo Rally (or Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo) is an annual rallying event organized by the Automobile Club de Monaco, which also organizes the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Monaco Kart Cup. It has been held since 1911, when the inaugural rally was opened by Prince Albert I – making it the longest-running event in all rally sport.
Since 1973, the race has been held each January as the first race of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The Monte Carlo Rally is seen as a good test of the latest innovations to cars, so the stakes are high in terms of reputation for automobile manufacturers.
Sebastien Loeb, with co-driver Daniel Elena, won the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally driving a Citroen C4 WRC. He came in more than two and a half minutes in front of runner-up Mikko Hirvonen.
Monte Carlo Rally Route
The Monte Carlo Rally route is probably the most famous of all rallying stages. It includes twisting, mountainous asphalt roads and a challenging mixture of dry, wet and icy road conditions. For drivers and their route partners, experience on the route is of paramount importance.
The Col de Turini, which forms part of the route, typically includes ice and snow at the time when the rally is raced – and spectators have been known to throw extra snow onto the road. In 2005, both Marcus Grönholm and Petter Solberg lost wheels and crashed into a wall on the infamous Col de Turini stretch. Although Marcus Grönholm was able to continue the race, Petter Solberg was forced to retire.
Because the route conditions vary so much from start to finish, the choice of tires can be critical – drivers who can take on dry asphalt and ice without changing tyres gain a definite advantage.
Since 2007, the rally has had its starting point in the city of Valence, in the heart of the twisty mountain roads for which the event is known. The majority of the route is in the Vercors and Ardeche regions of France.
The Monte Carlo Rally is the only four-day rally in the WRC. It starts on Thursday evening with stages run in darkness, and remains in Valence for Friday and Saturday. The rally is then re-located to Monaco, where drivers face the infamous roads of the Turini region in the Alpes Maritimes. The rally ends with a stage on part of Monaco’s famous Formula One circuit.