Monaco has a certain historic affinity with motorsport. Naturally thoughts turn to the unmistakable Monte Carlo Grand Prix, one of the most iconic race tracks and sports venues in the world. Sleek Formula 1 cars flash past shimmering blue seas and stunning Monte Carlo real estate as spectators sit and soak in the sun and cocktails from private terraces. There is an unrivalled class and romance about the event since its inception in 1929.
But the love affair between Monaco and motorsport is more antiquated than the Grand Prix. The Automobile Club de Monaco who annually organise the Grand Prix, are an association whose roots lie in cycling. Founded in 1890 as the Sport Vélocipédique Monégasque association, it had soon incorporated elements of motorised vehicles by 1907. Four years later, it held its first Rallye Monte Carlo, some eighteen years before the Grand Prix had even been conceived.
Originally, race competitors would set off from various destinations across Europe before congregating in Monaco to display the progress of modern automobiles and innovative car designs. Today, the Rallye Monte Carlo takes place along the French Riviera and the South East of France, and a timed course has shifted the event’s focus to give it a more competitive element.
This year, the 83rd edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo ran between the 19th and 25th January. Local driver Sébastien Ogier won the rally in his home nation, while Team Volkswagen claimed the second and third podium places with their two drivers Jari-Mari Latvala and Andreas Mikkelesen.
The drivers endured a gruelling racecourse in the snow filled mountain range of the Hautes Alps. With over 75% of the track modified from last year’s program, the drivers were put to the test in difficult conditions, starting in Chateauvieux, 6km south of Ogier’s hometown of Gap.
The official start of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship commenced on the following day at the glamorous Place du Casino in Monte-Carlo from where the drivers travelled to Digne Les Bains via the beautiful medieval town of Entrevaux by night.
After two more consecutive days of racing in the mountains, the Championship concluded early on Sunday 25th January upon the famous roads of the Col de Turini.
The following weekend, the Automobile Club de Monaco has organised a further motorsport extravaganza. This time uniting vintage cars for the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, the event’s 18th edition exclusively welcomes car models that featured in past Rallyes Automobiles Monte-Carlo between 1955 and 1980.
There will be five cities of departure, including Glasgow, Copenhagen, Torino, Barcelona and Reims, with drivers covering distances from between 788 to 2263 kilometres throughout Europe before arriving in Saint André les Alpes. The race will then officially begin on Monday 2nd February and finish during the night from Tuesday 3rd to Wednesday 4th, finally culminating in an awards ceremony in the elegant Salle des Étoiles in Monaco.
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