This year, over 300 cars signed up for the event left from six European cities: Barcelona (Spain), Glasgow (Scotland), Oslo (Norway), Reims (France), Turin (Italy), and Warsaw (Poland). Participants came from all around the globe; a duo of Toyotas even made the trip from Japan!
Contrary to what its name might suggest, the Historic Monte-Carlo Rally is not a speed race. The point of it is to follow the timing of each stage as closely as possible, not to drive flat out and be the first to cross the finish line. Drivers lose points if they finish a stage too early, or too late.
Most of the participants we talked to agreed that competing in the event costs anywhere from €15,000 to €20,000 (about $20,000 and $26,000), not counting the purchase and the preparation of the car. That price figure includes transportation to and from the race, gas, hotel accommodations, spare parts, several sets of tires, and an often-borrowed technical support vehicle that waits at most of the check points in case something needs to be repaired on the car.
The only vehicles eligible are the ones that competed in the Monte-Carlo Rally from 1955 to 1980, and that were built within those years. That means that a Renault 5 Alpine built in 1981 would not be accepted even though several of them raced in the late 1970s. For those who are interested, the Automobile Club of Monaco has posted a comprehensive nine-page list of the cars that can be entered in the race on their website.
This year’s edition of the Historic Monte-Carlo Rally was disturbed by severe winter storms that ravaged most of the southeastern region of France. One stage early in the race was cancelled because fallen trees were blocking the road and couldn’t be removed in a timely manner; another stage was cancelled today because an accident (unrelated to the event) involving snowy roads caused huge delays.
Another consequence of the extreme weather is that a lot of the cars got damaged to one extent or another. Some got away with merely a dented fender or a broken light, while others slid off the road entirely and had to abandon the race.
We traveled to Tournon-sur-Rhône in the Ardèche department of France to photograph cars arriving at the check point from the 9th stage. The setting was amazing: a small, quiet village located deep in France’s wine country temporarily overrun by vintage race cars.
Some of the highlights included a Skoda 130 RS, a Moskvitch 408, and a Renault 5 Alpine entered by Renault’s Classic Center and driven by famed rally pilot Jean Ragnotti. BMW 1602s/2002s were a dime a dozen, as were Alfa GTVs. Other notable entries included several E-Types (most registered in Lithuania), a Fiat 850 sedan, a duo of Lancia Flavias, a Steyr-Puch 650 TR, and a Citroën Dyane 6, just to name a few.
Unfortunately it turns out that the battery in our camera doesn’t stand up well to the cold and we weren’t able to take as many photos as we would have liked. You can find about fifty shots from the event below; if you want more of a specific car, let us know via email, we will send you what we’ve got.