With a start at dawn from the Principality, nearly 400km were on the day’s programme on Saturday for all 272 competitors in the special stages of the 25th Monte-Carlo Historic Rally, including three regularity stages where snow and ice spiced up the show. All this, under the eyes of hundreds of enthusiasts who came to admire these legendary cars. Here is the story of Saturday’s event.
The 2022 winners of Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique were the best in the first Regularity Special (SR) of this 2023 edition, on Saturday morning between Briançonnet and Ubraye (18.27 km). A stage used last week in WRC, but in reverse. There were 271 competitors classified at the end of SR1, but the leading duet was made up of Philippe and Antoine Cornet de Ways Ruart, in the same 1965 Porsche 911 that they drove to win the rally in February 2022. Behind the Belgian tandem, the closer rivals were another Porsche 911, coming from Germany and more recent (1982), a 1978 Opel Kadett GTE coming from Great Britain, and two Italian crews entered in a 1975 Lancia Stratos and a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia.
The Austin Mini Cooper S driven by Giorgio Schon and navigated by Francesco Giammarino, one of the Torino entries, won the laurels in SR2 (15.44km) between Chaudon-Norante and Digne-les-Bains before a short break on Place du Tampinet, in the heart of the Prefecture of Alpes de Haute-Provence. There were a few patches of black ice in SR1, but in famous Col du Corobin, very rarely used in winter, there was quite a lot of snow, especially in the descent to Digne, so that all crews had to watch out, and only one made a spectacular mistake.
At the end of this stage, on equal penalty points with the Italian Mini, there were two Italian cars at the top of the results sheet: the 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI 1600 entered by the Chiesa couple, Giovanni and Tiziana, already very well-placed at the end of SR1, and a Lancia from Switzerland, the 1970 Fulvia Coupé 1.3S with Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger on board.
After a couple of tough stages, full of traps (black ice in SR1, snow in SR2), the 271 cars and crews enjoyed a welcome pause on Place du Tampinet in Digne-les-Bains, before starting again and heading to Valence, via SR3.
Due to the snow and ice in the climb to Col de Pennes, a safety speed average, lower than the one originally planned, was imposed on competitors in SR3 (16.13km) between Recoubeau- Jansac and Pennes-le-Sec. It was the third regularity stage of the 25th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique and it was won by a 1975 Volvo 242, entered by Germany’s Norbert Drexler and Austria’s Christian Roessler, tied with the 1964 Sunbeam Tiger of a Belgian crew, Carlo Mylle and Steven Vyncke.
The competitors then passed the Crest time control (CH3) and finally arrived within the scheduled times in Valence, on the famous Champ de Mars. It was the end of the Classification Leg. The serious part really starts on Sunday, with four legendary stages for Leg 1 of 3, in Ardèche and Haute-Loire.
As usual, the town of Crest warmly welcomed the Monte-Carlo Historique during a Time Control, the last stage of the day before the finish in Valencia with the arrival of the competitors on the Champs de Mars in the ville de Valence, remaining faithful once again to the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique.
ORIGINAL SOURCE & PHOTO: Monaco Automobile Club