Rallye Monte-Carlo

| 1 Dec 2014

The Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the oldest and most testing in the sporting calendar, mixing the glamour of Casino Square with the challenge of driving snow-swept mountain passes for more than 100 years.

The first event took place in 1911 at the behest of Prince Albert I of Monaco, two years after the inception of the Automobile Club de Monaco, and involved participants racing to the Principality from 11 different starting points throughout Europe. The early days were about far more than outright pace – contestants were also marked on the elegance of their car, and the level of comfort enjoyed by its passengers. 

As time progress, the rally became better regulated and featured greater emphasis on sporting prowess, until 1973 and the arrival of the World Rally Championship. 

To this day, 'the Monte' is an important stage on the international rally calendar.


Back in the 1950s, Grand Prix drivers weren't bound by the constraints of top-flight motorsport, and competed in almost anything with four wheels. In '52, Stirling Moss finished second in a Sunbeam-Talbot 90. He is pictured here with John Cooper and secretary of the BRDC, Desmond Scammell. 



The 1953 event was won by Maurice Gatsonides in a Ford Zephyr. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he became the inventor of the Gatso speed camera – he came up the device to measure his cornering speed.  



During competition, it was vital that teams could carry out their own running repairs – a rule that lasts to this day. Here, Per Malling and Gunnar Fadum fix the fanbelt on their Sunbeam Mk3 in Casino Square on their way to overall victory in 1955. 



More than any other, the Rallye Monte-Carlo has a reputation for being truly international – no doubt helped by its multiple starting points before the modern era. In 1961, Frenchmen Maurice Martin and Roger Bateau piloted their Panhard PL17 to the marque's only win.



In 1964, Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon stormed to victory in a Morris Mini Cooper S, signalling the start of a four-year assault on the Monte by the diminutive British saloon. 



Hopkirk and Liddon's success in '64 was followed a year later by another win for the Mini, this time with Timo Makinen at the wheel. By '66 the Mini was utterly dominant, filling the podium positions. However, the three Minis (along with Roger Clark's fourth-placed Cortina and Rosemary Smith's sixth-placed Imp) were disqualified for having the wrong type of headlight filament, controversially elevating the Citroen ID of Pauli Toivonen to first place. 



It was 'Quick Vic' Elford who took the spoils in 1968, making it a first win not only for himself, but also for Porsche. His 911T came in ahead of the 911S of Toivonen. 



The French always placed great importance on the Rallye Monte-Carlo, making the Renault-Alpine A110 one-two-three in 1973 all the sweeter. Jean-Claude Andruet was the man who came out on top in the first year of the World Rally Championship, which began in the Principality. 



It was Lancia that dominated the 1976 rally, with its Stratos HF completing a clean-sweep of the top three positions. The glory would be shared equally with winner Sandro Munari, who piloted his Stratos to victory in '75, '76 and '77.



The rally of 1984 was dominated by the flame-spitting Audi quattro, which locked-out the top three positions. It helped that they were driven by legends of the sport – Walter Rohrl, Stig Blomqvist and Hannu Mikkola. 



Few teams enjoyed as much success on the Monte than Lancia. It took the laurels five times in a row from 1986-'90, each with an iteration of the Delta. Henri Toivonen delivered the first victory in a Delta S4, followed by back-to-back wins for the Delta HF 4WD courtesy of Miki Biasion and Bruno Saby. Biasion returned in '89 to claim his second Monte win with the Integrale, before Didier Auriol and Bernard Occelli completed the set in '90.



Tommi Makinen's first victory on the Monte came in 1999, with fellow Finn Risto Mannisenmaki in the passenger seat. He would win the next three, too – a trio at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, and the last while driving for long-term rival Subaru.