The Monte Carlo Rally – Auto Racing

The Monte Carlo Rally has been called the Granddaddy of Motor Rallying, and for good reason: it was one of, if not THE, first motor rally. First run in 1911, the Monte Carlo Rally was for a time the only motor sports race of its kind but through its enduring popularity has spawned the sport of motor rallying that spans the globe today.

The relationship was formalized in 1973 when the Monte Carlo Rally was made the inaugural race of the FIA World Rally Championship season. The original reason for the race was not strictly for competition, but for testing the cars of the day under a wide variety of road conditions.

The legendary Monte Carlo Rally circuit provides drivers with one challenge after another as their reflexes are continually being tested. Run in January to take advantage of the weather, some portions of the course are especially icy. Uniquely among professional racing, spectators are allowed to throw snow onto the course, leading on more than one occasion to drivers spinning out and damaging their vehicles.

Through the first 30 years of the rally, cars that even in their day were relatively unknown won races. Makes like Berliet, Metallurgique, and Autocarrier competed with enduring racing names like Lancia, Citroen and Bugatti. Strange as it may seem, Studebaker and Buick each finished third in the 1930 and 1938 races respectively. Even into the 1960s, cars such as the Ford Falcon and the Citroen ID were very competitive.

The Saab 96 won the 1962 and 1963 editions of the Monte Carlo Rally, while the Mini Cooper S (similar to the tiny boxy cars featured in the 1969 film “The Italian Job”) won in 1964, 1965 and 1967.

These days, cars claiming the checkered flag include the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Subaru Impreza, Citroën Xsara and the 2006 winner, the Ford Focus RS WRC driven by the team of Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen.

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