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A vintage year for a very popular rally!
27 May 2024

A vintage year for a very popular rally!

Everything came together to make this 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique a great vintage, from the perfect weather to the quality of the organisation by Automobile Club de Monaco, from the welcome given by the locals in all the towns and villages along the route, to the very high standard of the 233 crews who set off from the four corners of Europe. In the end, it all came down to a superb winning duo, the Belgians Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo, in a 1979 Opel Ascona 400, who led the way from Saturday afternoon until midnight on Tuesday, without interruption.

The winning tandem from the Low Countries has every reason to be proud: the one and only time an Opel has triumphed in a Rallye Monte-Carlo was back in 1982 in an Ascona, with the great Walter Röhrl at the wheel, assisted by the faithful Christian Geistdorfer.

Michel Decremer, who had already won here in 2017 in an Opel Ascona 2000, and his co-driver, for their second rally together, never faltered: no place higher than 55th (out of more than 200 competitors), no more than 60 penalty points collected in any of the 16 Regularity Stages (SR) contested over four days. With a grand finale on Col de Turini just before midnight.

This is the second victory for a Belgian duo in 15 days in a Rallye Monte-Carlo, since Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe won in WRC at the end of January in their Hyundai i20. The final podium looks very impressive, with two Italian crews who spared no effort either: Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino, at the front from start to finish in their Austin Mini Cooper S, and Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda, who won two stages in their superb Lancia Beta Coupé 1800.

Impressive statistics!

If we look at the figures for this 26th edition, there are two that stand out: firstly, the presence of 9 different makes of car in the Top 10 of the final and official general classification, published at 12:30 on Wednesday by the ACM; secondly, the fact that 10 car manufacturers won at least one SR, sometimes tied with another make. In detail, Porsche finally beat Lancia (6-5), while Austin (3 wins), Sunbeam and BMW (2 each) also came out on top, with the rest of the laurels shared between Mazda, Alfa Romeo (18 cars at the start), Citroën, Volkswagen and of course Opel, the winning brand this year.

For fans of old-fashioned statistics, here comes another one: Germany, with 10 victories in the SR (for four makes, Porsche, BMW, Opel and VW), beat Italy (only 6, including 5 for Lancia and one for Alfa), and Belgium succeeded Switzerland on the list of winners, since Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger won last year in a Lancia Fulvia.

A hugely popular event!

It was certainly a long and testing rally for the crews and organisers, but the support of the local population all along the route was heart-warming, in all the departments crossed, from Ardèche to Drôme, from Isère to Hautes-Alpes, from Haute-Loire to Alpes de Haute-Provence, with Alpes-Maritimes to finish in style, in the great tradition of Rallye Monte-Carlo, on the mythical Col de Turini.

The 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique drew big crowds everywhere, and reassured all fans of old-school motorsport, old racing cars and charming, approachable drivers, never short of anecdotes and good stories. It was a great vintage, so we look forward to an even better rally in 2025!

RS16: Porsche finishes in style!
27 May 2024

RS16: Porsche finishes in style!

The Porsche 911 SC of Samuel and Klaus Thiele (#9) took the last honours of this 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, in Col de Turini, winning RS16 ahead of the surprising Volvo 121 of another family team from across the Rhine, Michael and Julius Pan (#215), tied 2nd with the Italian runners-up in the overall standings, Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino, in their Austin Mini Cooper S. With everyone focusing not to jeopardise a week’s efforts, this RS16 didn’t produce any big surprise. The Belgian leaders had to be content with a tied 4th place.

They didn’t crack under pressure. Belgium’s Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo, who had been leading the 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique since Saturday afternoon, after RS3, in their Opel Ascona in the colours of Radio Monte-Carlo, were still in front at midnight on Tuesday, when they returned to the port of Monaco after the 16th and final Regularity Stage (RS) of this 2024 edition. On the final podium, they were joined on Wednesday by two Italian crews, Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino (Austin Mini Cooper S) as well as Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda (Lancia Beta Coupé 1800).

While awaiting the Final and Official General Classification, due to be published at midday on Wednesday by Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), the Decremer-Hugo tandem was able to relax with the satisfaction of having managed their business perfectly, including this RS16 ending at the top of prestigious Col de Turini. Early in the evening, the organisers had made the wise decision to cancel RS17 altogether, between La Cabanette and Col de Braus. There was so much fog on the road that launching over 200 tired crews in these conditions, at night, would have been far too dangerous.

A tribute to Prince Rainier!
27 May 2024

A tribute to Prince Rainier!

As a prelude to the departure of the 213 remaining competitors for the night of the Turini, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco took the opportunity to pay a vibrant tribute to his father, H.S.H. Prince Rainier III, and to his passion for beautiful cars.

It was a vibrant tribute because at 8pm, the public on Quai Albert 1er heard the roar of the engine of a rare Deutsch-Bonnet (DB) Frua, restored for the occasion. And Prince Albert II was at the wheel, for a whole lap of the Monaco Circuit.

This DB Frua has been completely restored in the workshops of the Prince’s Collection, from a wreck purchased in the United States. It is an exact replica of the car that Prince Rainier himself drove in the Tour Auto in 1953, using a clever pseudonym to avoid being recognised. The adventure was cut short by a minor accident, but 70 years later his son paid him a fitting tribute.

After completing his lap of the circuit in the DB Frua, H.S.H. Prince Albert II returned to the ACM podium to give the start to the first competitors in the overall classification. Their goal: Col de Turini, the Mecca of Rallye Monte-Carlo since the beginning of last century. The challenge for all the drivers involved, whether Belgian, Italian or French, in an Opel, Lancia or Alfa Romeo, was the same: to win this 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique hands down, with maximum panache!

RS15: Lancia ready for the grand finale!
27 May 2024

RS15: Lancia ready for the grand finale!

The suspense is total ahead of the final night of the 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, made of two Regularity Stages (RS16 and RS17) in the hinterland of Nice, close to and in Col de Turini, for a grand finale worthy of the legend of the world’s most famous rally. There are five crews grouped together in 210 points, so anything is really possible at the top of the overall standings. And after 15 hard-fought RSs, there are 8 different makes in the top 8 spots. Phenomenal.

Lancia finished the Common Leg with a bang, winning the last two Regularity Stages on Tuesday on the way back to Monaco. The grey Lancia Beta Coupé 1800 of Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda (#2) proved the most effective in RS14, at Laborel, before the Lancia Fulvia 1.3 S of Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger, the Swiss pair who won last year, set the record straight by winning their first RS of this 2024 edition.

After a welcome lunch break in Saint-André-les-Alpes, the number 1 Fulvia, with just 30 penalty points, did better between Collongues and Col de Saint-Raphaël (19.3 km) than seven cars finishing this RS15 in a tie for 2nd place, with 40 penalty points. Among them was the Ford Capri of Bruno Saby and Denis Giraudet, perfectly repaired on Sunday and fully ready for the final festival in the Turini.

Before the last two stages, the leading duo is still the same, with Belgians Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo still leading in their Opel Ascona in Radio Monte-Carlo livery, ahead of Italians Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino (Austin Mini Cooper S). But their margin of safety has been reduced and the battle for the last place on the podium is going to be fierce between three cars, including that of the juvenile tandem made up of Jules Picoreau and Camille Béal in the number 7 Alfa GTV. Anything is possible, really.

RS14: Lancia and Porsche ahead, again...
27 May 2024

RS14: Lancia and Porsche ahead, again…

The mano a mano between German and Italian makes had a new episode in RS14, which took all the competitors to Laborel, where the whole field had already passed by on Monday. And this time there was a perfect tie, with a Lancia, the same as on Monday in SR12, and a Spanish Porsche, the same as on Monday in SR10, at the top of the leaderboard.

They’ve been shining since the start of this 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, in a blue 911 turbo bearing race number 4: Spaniards Alvaro Ochagavias Temino and Manuel Macho Gomez once again stood out, between Roussieux and Laborel (18.6 km), and they again finished joint first, this time with the very beautiful grey Lancia Beta Coupé 1800 of Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda (#2).

It was another very fine SR in this 2024 edition, contested in very clement weather, and concluded in front of the Monte-Carlo Rally Museum, created by a passionate fan in the heart of Laborel. Other crews took advantage of it to take as few penalties as possible and move up in the overall standings, starting with the only team to finish 3rd: Ferruccio and Carlo Nessi, in a little 1965 Morris Mini Cooper S (#217).

To complete the roll of honour, in 4th place, Luc and Louis Dumas in their 1977 Porsche 924 (#118) did as well as Charles Offel de Villaucourt and Alexandre Moreau-Lespinard in their pretty 1971 Alpine 1600 S berlinette (#72), and as well also as Laurent and Sonny Manzoni in one of many Alfa Romeos entered this year (18 all together), a 2000 GTV (#188) coming all the way from 1972.

RS13: VW and BMW ahead of Lancia
27 May 2024

RS13: VW and BMW ahead of Lancia

The German brands continued their raid on this 26th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, by winning RS13 which opened the 3rd and final part of the Common Leg on Tuesday morning: a 1981 BMW 323i driven by a Spanish crew, Luis Climent Asensio and Victor Buades (#146), took the laurels between Saint-Nazaire-le-Désert and La Motte Chalançon (18.2 km), another mythical stage of the WRC version, tied with a 1982 VW Scirocco, driven by Ilya Kashin and navigated by Boris Kostyrko (#43).

This was the first regularity stage of the final day and, as is often the case since Monday, the Lancia of the Swiss title holders was back at the front: Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger, in their Fulvia 1.3S Coupé, took 3rd place, ahead of the other Lancia Fulvia of a Danish crew, Simonsen-Kristensen (#30), and another BMW, the 2002 Ti of Laurent Combier and Etienne Berthoin.

This good result enabled the crew in the VW Scirocco to move up one place in the overall standings, from 5th to 4th, behind an unchanged leading trio: Opel, ahead of Mini and Alfa. There were still two SRs to be contested on the way back to Monaco, followed by the last two this evening around Col de Turini.

Portraits of Enthusiasts, Part 2
27 May 2024

Portraits of Enthusiasts, Part 2

The gallery of portraits of participants in the 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique continues with a number of outstanding characters…

Like a plane without wings…

For Olivier Perriaud, professional life has always rhymed with blue skies. Since he started flying at the age of 17, he has clocked up no fewer than 15,000 flying hours at the controls of a wide variety of aircrafts. He is an operational pilot for Dassault Aviation, but he is spending this week on the winding stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique to indulge in his second passion. It was a meeting with the living memory of Monte-Carlo Rally, the famous Yves Jouanny, owner of La Remise, that led to him signing for this 26th edition. His red Golf GTI may not be a fighter jet, but it’s more than enough to send Olivier and his co-driver Nathalie Briquet to the 7th heaven.

Alfa Romeo is everywhere…

There were 18 Alfa Romeos at the start of this 26th edition, that’s almost 8% of the field. One of them is a 1979 Alfetta GTV, number 40, registered in Monaco, bearing the colours of the ACM and the Flaujac Foundation. It is driven by Stefano Caminiti, navigated by his son Pasquale, and it is provisionally ranked 80th (out of 217 classified crews). Another car, a 1971 GTV 2000, is perfectly managed by the youngest crew in this rally, Jules Picoreau and Camille Béal (both 23). It was 3rd overall on Tuesday morning, when all crews left Valence for Monaco. Aiming at what would be an historic podium finish for the two juniors.

Pat Lambert, 25 out of 26

Pat Lambert has only missed one edition of the Historic Monte Carlo Rally, but not really: she was assisting a friend rather than being a driver or co-driver. So she insists that she has “lived them all”, on ACM’s social networks, and she has nothing but great memories. One of them was when “Mr Noël, in Saint-Agrève”, repaired her car after a sudden suspension failure. This kind of Monte-Carlo Santa Claus, a real enthusiast, did all the necessary welding and enabled the car to make it back to the finish without a hitch. This year, Pat, who is also the official speaker for the International Rowing Federation, is competing in a little Fiat Moretti 850S, number 220, with Didier Lodewyckx at the wheel. And she’s making the most of every moment on the road or in a village.

RS12: Lancia again, ahead of Austin
27 May 2024

RS12: Lancia again, ahead of Austin

It was a rather unexpected pairing that emerged at the top of the penalty sheets in the RS12 which brought Monday to a close: Lancia, this time with the Beta Coupé 1800 of Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda (#2), and Austin, with the Mini Cooper S of Thomas Bauchet and Vincent Kerhard (#219). 

The final drive of the day saw Lancia add one point for Italy in the big fight against German brands, adding a 3rd win to its record of SR victories in this 26th edition of Rallye Monte Carlo Historique. Austin also put his name at the top of the board for the first time this year, on the 15.9km route between Recoubeau-Jansac and Pennes le Sec, both in the Drôme Provençale area.

It was a fine end to Day 2 of the Common Leg, narrowly edging out two crews from Eastern Europe who were rather unexpected at such a high level: Andrei Ponomarev and Victor Polyakov in a 1978 VW Golf GTi, Hungary’s Tamas Pasztor and Peter Majoshazi in a 1964 Fiat 2300 S Coupé. Just behind them, the two young Frenchmen in an Alfa Romeo GTV, Jules Picoreau and Camille Béal, again picked up valuable points for the overall classification.

With 12 of the 17 special stages completed, and only five left to go on Tuesday, the suspense is total as the gaps are very small. The leaders are still Belgium’s Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo, in their Opel Ascona in Radio Monte-Carlo livery, ahead of Italy’s Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino (Austin Mini Cooper S) and, on the provisional podium, the Picoreau-Béal duo in their beautiful Alfa GTV. All grouped together in just 160 points. Watch out, as Tuesday will be decisive…

RS11: Porsche beats Lancia again
27 May 2024

RS11: Porsche beats Lancia again

After a Porsche one-two in RS10, the Stuttgart-based marque did it again early this afternoon in RS11 between Sainte-Jalle and Rémuzat (16km), thanks to the 911 SC of Italians Mario Piantelli and Fabio Cambie. But a Lancia was just behind on the timesheet, the Fulvia of Swiss title holders Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger.

Behind the Italian Porsche, the Swiss Lancia, carrying race number 1, was tied with three other cars, the VW Golf GTi of Eric Mallen and Jean-Louis Rimet (#60), the BMW 2002 Ti of Pierre and Jules André (#74) and the two inevitable Belgians in their red Sunbeam Tiger (#203), Maxime Castelein and Filip Deplancke, once again at the front, having already proved themselves the best in RS3 on Saturday and RS8 on Sunday.

This 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique is turning more and more into a duel between German and Italian cars, as both countries have monopolised stage wins since the start of the Classification Leg on Saturday morning. After RS11, the very provisional score is 5-3 for Germany (Porsche 3, BMW 1, Opel 1) vs Italy (Lancia 2, Alfa Romeo 1). The other three SRs were won by Sunbeam (2) and Citroën.

RS10: 1-2 for Porsche, ahead of Saby!
27 May 2024

RS10: 1-2 for Porsche, ahead of Saby!

The 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique had not seen such a domination by German manufacturers until this Monday morning in RS10: Porsche took the honour of a one-two finish between Laborel and Montauban sur l’Ouvèze (19.7km), and four other German cars made it into the Top 7.

The start of this RS was set up in front of the Monte Carlo Rally Museum, created from scratch by a fan of the event as well as a keen collector, who has amassed a wealth of memorabilia over the years. Not to mention the fact that the village of Laborel goes out of its way to decorate its square every time an ACM event passes through.

Behind the two Porsches tied for 1st place in this RS10, the blue 911 turbo of Spaniards Alvaro Ochagavias Temino and Manuel Macho Gomez, number 4, and the 924 of Luc and Louis Dumas, number 118, we saw the divine surprise appearance of the Ford Capri of Bruno Saby and Denis Giraudet: it was bound to retire on Sunday until its mechanics worked miracles by repairing its transmission.

Behind this remarkable trio, the places of honour went to four other German cars: two other Porsches, a 911 and a 924, an Opel Kadett GTE and even an Audi 80 GLE entered by a Belgian crew, Jean-Pierre Vannerum and Nicolas Plas. All in all, 6 places in the Top 7 of this stage, which took place entirely in the Drôme Provençale region of France. With all the windows down to make the most of the spring-like weather.

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