Rally Monte-Carlo is the WRC’s crown jewel and the oldest race on the calendar.
First run in 1911,the rally now takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France. Previously, competitors would set off from all four corners of Europe and 'rally', in other words, meet, in Monaco to celebrate the end of a unique event.
From its inception in 1911 it was an important means of demonstrating improvements and innovations to automobiles, as well as promoting Monaco as an important tourist resort on the Mediterranean shore. More and more people became owners of motor cars and ‘’touring’’ at home and abroad with a car was becoming an important way of recreation in the early 20th century.
In 1909 the Automobile Club de Monaco started planning a car rally at the behest of Albert I, Prince of Monaco. The Monte Carlo Rally was to start at points all over Europe and converge on Monte Carlo. In January 1911 23 cars set out from 11 different locations. Henri Rougier was among the nine who left Paris, winning the event in a Turcat-Méry 25 Hp. The rally comprised both driving and then somewhat arbitrary judging based on the elegance of the car, passenger comfort and the condition in which it arrived in the principality.
In 1912 the Rally Automobile de Monte-Carlo attracted 60 racers. There were now ten different starting points from where to rally towards the Principality of Monaco. With an average required speed of 16 mph, the character was mostly touring, and the participants mostly used comfortable closed limousines. As these participants were often affluent owners, it was not uncommon that most of the driving was done by their chauffeurs. The most adventurous new starting city was Saint Petersburg in the Russian Empire, over 2.000 miles of winter roads away from Monte Carlo. It took more than 8 days for the only courageous participants - Andrej Platonovitsj Nagel and Vagyim Alekszandrovics Mihajlov in a Riga-built Russobalt S24-55 - to cover that distance.
Today times are different, and only the worlds greatest drivers, going flat out with the most modern automotive technology can hope to compete.
Last years race was won by Thierry Neuville in the Hyundai i20 WRC, and he'll be back again this year.
Sebastien Ogier is the undisputed king of Rally Monte Carlo having won the previous 6 races, driving a mix of Volkswagens Fords and Citroens.
Reigning manufacturers’ champion Hyundai has entered Ott Tänak, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in i20s. Toyota’s four-car entry features world champion Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta in Yaris cars.
Can Thierry Neuville repeat his victory from last year for team Hyundai?
Or, will Sebastien Ogier prove his greatness yet again, and take one more Rally Monte Carlo victory with Team Toyota?