They came in large numbers and they were not disappointed, grassroots fans as well as guests of the Automobile Club of Monaco (ACM): the starting ceremony for the 91st Rally Monte-Carlo, early Thursday evening, was a tremendous success, starting with the best shots of the 2022 WRC season projected on the facade of the Casino, covered with a red and white checkerboard thanks to a superb light show.
The 74 crews entered (following the last-minute withdrawal of Sami Pajari, ill) then paraded on the podium erected in front of Café de Paris. The ten hybrid cars left the podium quietly, thanks to their electric power, and all the other cars made a bit more noise, but not too much, reminding those nostalgic fans of a bygone era, when you could hear rally cars from afar.
Almost all drivers told the official speaker that they hoped to manage as well as possible this first evening of racing, with two great special stages on the menu: La Bollène-Vésubie – Col de Turini (SS1, 15.12km) followed by La Cabanette – Col de Castillon (SS2, 24.90km). The two major favourites were ready to fight, Sébastien Ogier, looking for a record 9th victory in the Principality, and Kalle Rovanperä, 22, the reigning world champion. Two Toyota drivers that their main rivals are determined to bother all week-end, at Hyundai Motorsport as well as at M-Sport Ford.