All is well that ends well. One of the most followed, observed, admired cars of the 25th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, the 1970 Lancia Fulvia 1.3 S, perfectly driven by a very efficient Swiss duo, Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger, finally won it. And added a new line to the prize list of the Italian brand in the Principality. It is indeed the fourth victory for a Lancia in the historic version of Rallye Monte-Carlo, after 2002, 2005 and 2018. And each time it was a Fulvia, as in 1972, in the World Rally Championship. It was long after Louis Chiron’s win in 1954, in a Lancia Aurelia, and before the epic of the Stratos, 037 and other Deltas, taking a series of 11 more wins between 1975 and 1992.
Lancia, in this 2023 edition, was all over the entry list, and the fans massed on the roadsides and in the villages could not take their eyes off them. That of the Enz-Seeberger tandem was particularly remarkable, in its red dress with a black hood, as it was the case before, in the heyday. It was also appreciated for its precision in the regularity stages, always at the forefront and well placed for the final victory, picked up in the early hours of Wednesday, when passing the finish line at Col de Turini.
“We didn’t expect such a result, so we’re very happy,” said Enz, 32, in perfect Italian, on the finish podium. “I had a perfect car, a brilliant co-driver, we did what was necessary and everything ended well”, added the Swiss driver, victorious for his 6th participation in the event. He had left Turin, home of Fiat and Lancia, last week with a 28-year-old co-driver who assisted him very well. This makes it 17 victories in total for Lancia in the Principality, including 13 in the Monte-Carlo Rally and four in its historic version.
If one takes a closer look at the final results of this memorable 25th edition, validated Wednesday at noon by Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), we see that variety is all over, with legendary brands everywhere: there are 11 different brands in the first eleven places, and even 12 in the Top 15, because Lancia places three models and Ford two. With a special mention for Porsche, winning five regularity stages out of 16 contested, thanks to four different models.
Of the two Fords ranked in the Top 15, out of 272 entries, there is a Ford Capri 2300 S that Bruno Saby drove for an entire week. Winner in 1988 in a Lancia Delta HF, the very popular Bruno, not stingy with anecdotes, was welcomed as a hero wherever this rally stopped, and it was well-deserved. He also finished 4th overall, out of 232 classified crews, because when such a legendary driver takes part in a Rallye Monte-Carlo, it is not to make up the numbers.
Another former winner, Jean-Claude Andruet, also revived nostalgic memories at the wheel of a superb Alpine-Renault Berlinette, almost the same as the one he took to victory in 1973, just fifty years ago. Because this was indeed a Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, at all levels. The prize-giving ceremony, Wednesday evening from 8:30 pm, could only take place at the Sporting de Monte-Carlo, in the Salle des Etoiles. The Stars Room, like the myriads of stars shining in the eyes of drivers, co-drivers and rally fans, in the cars, along the roads and in all the villages crossed, for a whole week of shared pleasure. Long live 2024!