First Victory for Switzerland
The first edition of the of the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique was run in 1998, and it took place at the same time as the modern WRC rally. Such a huge undertaking caused all sorts of logistical problems for the organisers, so after that the ACM took the decision to separate the two events, and ever since they have run ten days apart.
This 25th edition, much of which was run on dry roads in the absence of the wished-for snow and ice, was won by a Swiss crew after a fierce battle in Claudio Enz’s sixth time of trying. Frédéric Lombard reports…
Of the 283 crews entered, 278 took the start from five European cities, with competitors in Oslo setting out first for a concentration run of 1890kms on Tuesday to arrive in Monaco on Friday afternoon. For London the start was on Wednesday, while competitors from Reims, Bad-Homburg and Torino set out on the evening of Thursday 27 January, Torino being the shortest route with only 470kms to cover. On Saturday morning, 272 competitors classified after the concentration in Valencia, having passed through three regularity sections in the Alpes-Maritimes, the Alpes de Haute-Provence and finish in the Drôme Sud on a totally dry road in spring-like weather.
This year the organisation used a system of variable average speeds that would depend on the weather conditions. This was applied to ZR3 (Col de Pennes), ZR5 (Burzet), ZR6 (Saint Bonnet le Froid), ZR8 (Col de Carabes) and ZR9 (Col d’Espréaux) that were run at lower speeds. 260 crews arrived in parc fermé in the Champ de Mars in Valence to the delight of a large crowd there to greet them.
As last year organisers set up speed controls in various villages along the way with penalties for those exceeding the 30km/h village limits, thus reminding all crews that it is a test of regularity and not speed. 135 crews were penalised on Sunday alone.
After running through the Drôme and the Hautes Alpes, on Tuesday morning, the rally headed south towards Monaco for the end of the common leg. With only the final night stages and its two ZRs to run, tension was high, but the Swiss crew of Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger held good on totally dry roads in the Niçoise hinterland to win in the model of car that took the overall win in 1972 in the hands of Sandro Munari. This is the first victory in this event for a Swiss crew. In second place the Russians Ilya Kashin and Boris Kostyrko brought their VW Scirocco in ahead of the Chiesa’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti. Fourth place went to the famous Bruno Saby in a Ford Capri. Now an enthusiast for historic events, he had also finished third in 2010 in an Alpine A110. Of the 278 starters, 232 were classified as finishing. The conditions had been relatively easy and mild.
To read Frédéric Lombard’s full report, see our March 2023 issue – also available in digital format
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