The Monte-Carlo Car Rally is a motorsport
rally event organised by the Automobile Club of Monaco which starts
and finishes in the Principality of Monaco, while the major part of the
route takes place further north, particularly in the French departments of
the Alpes-Maritimes, the Ardèche, the Drôme, the Hautes-Alpes and
the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, depending on the years.
This trial always takes place in winter, in January.
A Bit of History...
From 1906, an endurance race was organised as a return trip from Paris to Monte-Carlo,
between 25 November and 5 December, for new models being presented at the Paris
From its establishment in 1911 by the Monegasques Gabriel Vialon and
Anthony Noghès, the Monte-Carlo Car Rally was not yet, properly speaking, a
sports trial, but rather a means of attracting the European jet-set to Monaco and
in response to the various events organised by the dynamic Automobile Club of
Nice and the Côte d'Azur, as part of the seaside rivalry of the two cities. So,
during the 1930s, the Monegasque trial competed for recognition with the
Critérium Paris-Nice, and the Paris-Antibes-Juan-les-Pins Rally.
Another peculiarity of the Monte-Carlo Rally for a long time was its concentric
route, with starts in cities in the four corners of Europe. Crews met up at a
single point to travel to Monaco by a final common route. Until the middle of
the 1990s, this characteristic gave the rally its reputation, and set its
With the improvements made to vehicles as well as the European road
network, the ACM then tried to give its trial a more sporting aspect, to raise
the challenge to participants and ensure above all that the Rally did not
become a walk in the park. Over the years, therefore, regulations have been
continuously modified. A manoeuvrability stage appeared, then a stage over a
few laps of the Monaco Formula 1 circuit to separate the teams. But a stage
which made the name of the Rally soon appeared: the circuit in the mountains of
the Nice hinterland. The Monte-Carlo Rally had not yet taken on its sporting
aspect as we know it today: indeed, the competitive stages were still based on
endurance rather than pure speed.
From 1953 to 1956 then 1958 to 1960, the Monte-Carlo Rally counted towards
the European Grand Tourism Championship, then from 1961 to 1967 and 1970 to
1972, it was part of the European Rally Championship, joining the World Rally
Championship (WRC) in 1973 when it was set up.
From the start of the 1960s, special stages appeared. The endurance element
was still present, but on special stages only pure speed counted. In order not
to handicap less powerful vehicles, overall rankings used an “indexed” method
of calculation. In this way, a less powerful vehicle could sometimes beat a
much more powerful one: in 1961 for example, René Trautmann and Jean-Claude
Ogier in a Citroën ID19 managed the best cumulative time, but only finished
nineteenth, far behind a modest Panhard.
In the middle of the 1960s, the “scratch” ranking came into force. The
index had had its day, and now it was the team with the best time on the special
stages and the least penalties which would win. This period also brought
“factory” drivers: the era of “gentlemen drivers” was now past.
At the start of the 1970s, the rally took on a shape which would last 25 years:
1. The concentric route, which
draws competitors to the starting city
2. The ranking route
3. The common route
4. The final route, also
known as the “mountain circuit”. At this time, special stages crossed Savoy,
the Isère, the Ardèche, the Drôme, the Hautes-Alpes as well as a large part of
the hinterland of Nice.
In the middle of the 1990s, the Fédération internationale de l'automobile
(FIA) completely rethought the rules of car rallying. Indeed, rallying had
always been a popular sport, and that fact drew many spectators to the roadsides.
After the withdrawal of B groups at the end of 1986, questions of safety, both
of crews and spectators, had to be treated more seriously by the international
authority. Due to this, the conduct of the Monte-Carlo Rally was profoundly changed:
• the concentric route
• the Rally was no longer
a linear trial, so stages with a Rally village disappeared;
• assistance points were
drawn together in one place with time checks at entrance and exit (to avoid
competitors driving too quickly in link sections to make up for lost time
• to limit spectator movement
between special stages, organisers concentrated the route as far as possible.
From 2009 to 2011, the Monte-Carlo Rally was part of the IRC Championship
and the organisers then decided to take advantage of less restrictive
regulations to spread the route out again. Valence once again became the start,
with a loop through the Ardèche, then the rally went through the Vercors, finishing
after two‑night stages at the summit of the Col de Turini.
2012, the Monte-Carlo rally returned to the world championship.