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Monte Carlo Rally - 19-23 Jan 11

Posted: March 15, 2011 3:01 PM - 17483 Hits

Round 1 - 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

PIERRE CAMPANA TAKES SPECTACULAR 2WD TRIUMPH IN MONTE-CARLO

Posted: March 15, 2011 3:01 PM

Corsican rally star Pierre Campana made a stunning comeback on the final day of this year’s centenary Rallye Monte-Carlo to win the IRC 2WD cup by more than one minute over his nearest rival.

Heading into the final day, Pierre was in third place in the 2WD class with a two minute deficit over the leader but a string of impressive stages during the final day and in Monte-Carlo’s legendary night stages saw Pierre stun onlookers to emerge victorious.

The victory comes following Pierre’s second place result in the class in his maiden Monte-Carlo rally in 2010 and sees him take the maximum 25 points in the first round of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge 2WD Cup.

The 2011 Monte-Carlo rally had started well for Pierre, although the first day was not without its problems after he sustained suspension damage when passing a car that was unfairly holding him up. The fourth stage of the day was cut short by organisers as a result of an accident but with times taken from the results of the third stage, Pierre found himself with early control of the 2WD and R3 class.

A puncture in SS5 on Thursday morning dropped him down the field. His immediate attempts at a comeback on Thursday afternoon were thwarted by the sudden onset of snow that resulted in unpredictable seventh and eighth stages, leaving the 25-year-old two minutes adrift of his target.

A mature and professional approach saw Pierre put in a series of stunning displays on the third and final day of the event – particularly in the two loops of stages over the legendary Col de Turini at night - to regain the class lead by the penultimate stage. He then went on to extend that lead by over a minute, stamping his authority over the class in this year’s Monte-Carlo rally.

Pierre won the 2WD class in three out of the five final stages in his Ellip6-backed Munaretto-run Renault Clio R3, navigated by Sabrina de Castelli, including the 30km stage from Montauban sur l'Ouvèze to Eygalayes and both of the Lantosque – Lucéram stages. Such was Pierre’s dominance on this run that he set the 12th best time in the general classification in SS11. He finished the rally in 14th place overall having set some truly sensational times on Michelin medium tyres during those final stages.

French simulation company Ellip6 was first involved in Monte-Carlo alongside Pierre last year when they celebrated a second place in 2WD together, so it is also fantastic for them to share a class victory with Pierre just twelve months on.

Pierre commented:
“I am extremely happy with this result and with our performances throughout the three days. We had a good first day generally but then we experienced a lot of bad luck on Thursday which hit us quite hard. The puncture in the fifth stage lost us four minutes and left us with a lot of work to do. We then had to manage without studded tyres in the heavy snow conditions on Thursday afternoon which was not easy. We started the final day with the objective of catching the 2WD leaders. It was a long day, with an early service, a long 30km first stage and finishing with the legendary night stages, so I had to remain very focussed, taking each stage as it came. The night stages are part of rally folklore, so it was particularly pleasing to be so competitive and to set such good times. The car was exceptional so I’d like to say thanks to Munaretto for their hard work and Michelin gave us very competitive tyres. We also benefitted from the support of Ellip6 and I would like to extend my thanks to them for all they have done to support my career up to this point. This result is the best possible way to start 2011 and I hope it will lead to even better things for the rest of the year.”

Monte Carlo Heartbreak for Barry & Deasy

Posted: March 15, 2011 3:00 PM

Daniel Barry was heartbroken at his exit of the Centenary Rallye Monte Carlo on the snowy Col de Gaudissart stage.

The young Irishman was on a come-back, after loosing time on the second test with a power-steering pump failure.

Based on information from the ice crew and engineers, Barry left service on Intermediate tyres with a pair of Winter tyres as spares, to do a loop of two stages close to Valence. However in a very short time the snow came down and the stages became treacherous. Barry and co-driver Adrian Deasy changed to the Winter tyres on the front, leaving the Intermediate tyres on the back, and set off into stage 7 of the arduous event.

During this stage alone the talented Co. Wicklow driver managed to claw back 4 places overall, 10 places in total that day, by setting the 3rd fastest group N stage time.

However on the even snowier stage 8, Col de Gaudissart, the back end of the car broke away from Barry and hit a banking, before sliding down the steep banking on the opposite side of the road.

On his return to service Daniel said
“I did all I could to keep the car on the road when the back end broke away, but it was not enough. I’m devastated, but you have to make decisions based on the information you have at the time, and I agreed that Intermediate tyres were the right choice when we left service”.
He continued, “We had made up some time on the previous stage, so I was thinking that if I could just keep up that pace and do the same again it would put us in a strong position for the final day”.

Barry is currently uncertain as to which direction to take in the sport for 2011,
“We are looking at lots of options for the forthcoming season, and realise we have to do it quick, but there are a few options to look at as there are so many big changes going on in the sport at the moment”.

Bryan Bouffier won the event for Peugeot France, with Belgian Freddy Loix second and Briton Guy Wilks in third. The event was the 79th Rallye to have run between 1911 and 2011.

BOUFFIER WINS MONTE-CARLO CENTENARY

Posted: March 15, 2011 2:54 PM

Bryan Bouffier got his Intercontinental Rally Challenge title campaign off to the best possible start by winning the centenary edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo, which finished in Monaco’s harbour front in the early hours of Saturday morning following three day’s of intense competition shown live on Eurosport.

Driving a Peugeot France 207 Super 2000, the 32-year-old from Die in the nearby Drome region, took the lead on a dramatic seventh stage on Thursday afternoon when a freak snowfall coated much of the mountainous roads and made driving conditions treacherous.

Juho Hanninen, who had been leading comfortably in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000, was one of several leading drivers to get caught out by selecting the wrong type of tyre for the wintry conditions. However, Bouffier’s decision to opt for a combination of snow and studded tyres gave him just enough grip to slither through the stages and climb from seventh to first overall despite spinning into a bank at one point.

Bouffier, the French champion who shone on a handful of IRC appearances last year, first emerged as a contender for victory by winning stage six on Thursday having lost time on Wednesday afternoon with a rear differential fault. He began day three with a lead of 28 seconds, which he was able to extend following a controlled, albeit attacking, performance throughout Friday’s five tests. He becomes the 19th different driver to win a round of the IRC since it began in 2007. His success was also the 21st for Peugeot in the series.

Changeable weather conditions are part of Rallye Monte-Carlo folklore and added further spice to this year’s event. That they contributed to Hanninen’s downfall in the space of one afternoon was poor reward for the defending IRC champion, who had excelled by claiming three stage wins in the early running, but had to settle for sixth in the final classification.

With Hanninen caught out by the weather and Czech Republic team-mate Jan Kopecky not showing the sparkle that has made him IRC runner-up for the past two seasons, it was left to Freddy Loix to uphold Skoda’s honour in second overall after the Belgian recovered from a spin on stage six. No driver has won more rounds of the IRC than Loix but he had to settle for second on this occasion.

Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stephane Sarrazin, another driver to drop time in the snow of Thursday, scored four stage wins to complete the final test in third for Peugeot France after his mechanics changed a faulty gearbox in 15 minutes when it got stuck in fourth gear a handful of kilometres into stage 11. The delay dropped him to fifth with two stages remaining before his late charge netted what appeared to be the final podium spot.

But because Sarrazin is unlikely to contest any more IRC events this season in order to concentrate on his other motorsport commitments, he elected to take a time penalty before the final control to promote Guy Wilks to third and help the Peugeot UK driver’s title bid.

Wilks, who is embarking on a full IRC campaign for Peugeot UK in 2011, drove without error in his 207. He lost ground on Friday morning when an intercom fault made it difficult for the Briton to hear co-driver Phil Pugh’s pacenotes. He also reported a few concerns with his rear suspension settings, which he said affected the handling of his car, while his decision to use soft compound tyres for the final brace of stages failed to deliver the pace he craved.

Francois Delecour belied his 48 years and lack of recent international experience, to start day three in second overall in his privateer 207. The 1994 Monte-Carlo winner was languishing in eighth when he made an inspired tyre choice for stage seven by selecting studded tyres. He vaulted up the leaderboard and was quickest of all on stage eight. However, Delecour’s fears that he wouldn’t be able to hold on for a podium in his older-specification car were realised when he began to slip back, his efforts not helped by an engine power glitch on the final night.

Former world champion Petter Solberg had moved into second place on his IRC debut heading to the snow-hit loop of stages on Thursday. But his decision to use intermediate tyres backfired spectacularly and he slipped to a distant seventh before alternator failure stopped his Peugeot 13 kilometres from the finish in Monaco.

Nicolas Vouilloz, competing on his first rally for 12 months, fought back from having to change a punctured front-right tyre on stage one to land seventh overall in a ?koda France-backed Fabia. Vouilloz, the IRC champion in 2007, gave a glimpse of what might have been with the quickest run through the first Col de Turini stage.

Toni Gardemeister also lost ground with a puncture on day one but recovered to take 10th for Astra Racing after overcoming a sticking throttle. Giandomenico Basso, a four-time IRC event winner, overtook the Finn on the final evening on his first appearance in a 207 by winning stage 11.

Ex-Formula One driver Alex Caffi impressed on his Monte-Carlo debut to finish 11th with M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Julien Maurin 12th. IRC Production Cup winner Florian Gonon took 13th in his Subaru Impreza WRX with Pierre Campana making up a deficit of nearly two minutes to win the IRC 2WD Cup after he was delayed by a puncture on Thursday morning. Mark Wallenwein achieved his aim of finishing his first Rallye Monte-Carlo, taking 21st for Skoda Auto Deutschland.

Several drivers failed to make it beyond day one including PROTON Motorsports drivers P-G Andersson and Chris Atkinson. Andersson crashed on stage two while an electrical failure curtailed Atkinson’s bid 700 metres from the start of the opening test.

Andreas Mikkelsen damaged his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia’s suspension sliding into a wall four corners into the first stage and retired. Fellow Norwegian Henning Solberg also failed to go beyond stage one after dropping considerable time with a puncture.

Thierry Neuville crashed his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 three kilometres from the finish of the first stage. Bruno Magalhaes left the road at high speed on stage four although thankfully neither he nor new co-driver Paulo Grave were injured after inflicting sizeable damage to their Peugeot Sport Portugal 207.

DRIVER QUOTES

Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall:
“It’s really fantastic to have won this special rally. I am so happy for Peugeot who gave me this opportunity and did a really good job. There was big pressure on me, there were a lot of fantastic drivers and the conditions were also very difficult. I am just so happy.”

Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, second overall:
“The first day was not the most difficult but we were quite controlled. Then the second day was very difficult with the weather. To keep second place is a good result and I’m quite pleased.”

Guy Wilks (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S2000, third overall:
“It was hard work on that last stage because we had a soft tyre that wasn’t right for the conditions. But we pushed like hell and made no big mistakes. It’s a good result first time in the car.”

Photos:

Posted: March 15, 2011 2:36 PM


Daniel Barry/Adrian Deasy


Eamonn Boland / MJ Morrisey

Results

Posted: March 15, 2011 2:23 PM

1 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 3h32m55.7s
2 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) Skoda Fabia S2000 +32.5s
3 Guy Wilks (GBR)/Phil Pugh (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m19.7s
4 Stephane Sarrazin (FRA)/Jacques-Julien Renucci (FRA) 207 S2000 +1m21.9s
5 Francois Delecour (FRA)/Dominique Savignoni (FRA) 207 S2000 +1m22.4s
6 Juho Hanninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +1m29.3s
7 Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Skoda Fabia S2000 +4m47.8s
8 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +7m45.9s
9 Giandomenico Basso (ITA)/Mitia Dotta (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +8m46.0s
10 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tomi Tuominen (FIN) Peugeot 207 S2000 +9m09.0s

Video Clip: Solberg/Patterson hit a police van on SS7

Posted: January 20, 2011 11:29 PM

SimulCam technology for live IRC Rallye Monte-Carlo coverage

Posted: January 20, 2011 12:55 PM

Following Eurosport Events’ landmark coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2009 and 2010, when it showed virtually every stage live, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is planning another world television first when it uses SimulCam technology on the centenary edition of the legendary competition this week.

SimulCam, which has never been used in coverage of rallying on television before, will allow viewers at home to watch two drivers competing on the same section of a special stage at the same time to discover who is the fastest.

It will record drivers covering part of a stage, of approximately one kilometre in length, at different times. The footage will then be composited into a single screen sequence showing two IRC drivers seemingly competing together, which will be transmitted shortly after the leading runners have completed the stage.

This will allow viewers to compare the different driving styles of each competitor, their trajectory through corners, when they brake and accelerate, their comparative speed and the handling characteristics created by different choices of car and tyre. This level of in-depth analysis is unparalleled in the coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo on TV.

SimulCam technology will be used on special stages one, three and four on Wednesday 19 January and stages six and eight on Thursday 20 January.

“Every year we look to improve our live television coverage of the IRC and the use of SimulCam is the latest in a long line of innovations,” said Gilbert Roy, the Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events. “Rallying is not like some other sports where you see competitors competing together at the same time. Because we want our coverage of the IRC to appeal to a wide spectrum of people, the use of SimulCam will give those viewers who may be new to rallying the chance to see two drivers effectively racing against each other to see who is the fastest. For the enthusiasts, it will provide a level of comparison previously unavailable in the coverage of rallying on television.”

Eurosport, Europe’s largest television sports channel, will show 14 hours of coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo across its various platforms, Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Asia-Pacific. It will cover 12 of the 13 special stages live as they happen. Footage will be captured from onboard cameras, stage-side cameras and a special helicam. Reporters based at the end of stages and in the service parks in Valence and Monaco will gather reaction from the competing drivers and teams to provide viewers with the complete picture of the opening round of the 2011 IRC.

The extensive live transmissions will also be accessible through Eurosport Player, the channel’s online live simulcast service, while video footage will be available at eurosport.com websites, the official IRC website (rally-irc.com) and via the IRC iPhone App.

PREPARATION WILL BE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL MONTE CARLO RALLY FOR PEUGEOT UK’S GUY WILKS AND PHIL PUGH

Posted: January 14, 2011 11:11 PM

It was 100 years ago that the first Monte Carlo Rally took place and this year’s rally will be the first one for Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh in a Peugeot 207 S2000.

The first Monte Carlo Rally ran in 1911 and it is still (possibly) the most iconic rally in the world. This year it will provide the backdrop to Peugeot UK’s new driver pairing, Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh as they kick off their own as well as Peugeot UK’s third IRC Campaign.

The Monte Carlo Rally is steeped in history and can even be said to have created the sport of rallying. The original Monte Carlo Rally competitors set off from all four corners of Europe and then “rallied” together to finish up in Monte Carlo to celebrate the end of a unique event. The current event no longer sees competitors start from the four corners of Europe, but it is, however, no less of a challenge.

In 1911 the first rally was won by Henri Rougier at the wheel of a 25 hp Turcat-Mery - now competitors will take up the challenge in state-of-the-art 300 bhp, four wheel drive Super 2000 rally cars. For Guy and Phil this will be a Peugeot 207 S2000 Evolution, the latest offering from the most successful manufacturer in the IRC with, to date, 20 rally wins to its credit.

The cars have changed a lot since the first rally but the need to control the car over ice and snow-covered surfaces too slippery to stand on has not. Now the competitors start the rally in the area around Valence, the capital of France’s Drome Region and then wind their way through a number of historic stages to the climax of the rally - the famous run over the Col de Turini. The rally starts on Wednesday 19th January and finishes in the early hours of Saturday 22nd January, in Monte Carlo.

The rally for Guy and Phil, however, started well before the starting ramp in Valence on Tuesday 18th January. It began before Christmas with a visit to Kronos to see the building of their Peugeot UK 207 S2000 and to meet their new team followed by a test to familiarise themselves with their new car. The test, however, did not go to plan; Phil was unable to make the test as he could not fly from the UK due to heavy snow. Guy did make the test and with the help of Xavier Panseri as his temporary co-driver he was able to complete a very successful first drive and test of the Peugeot 207 S2000.

Now the already thorough preparations go up a gear with a two day test in France this week to work on final set-up ready for the start of the rally next week. The test will also be the first time Guy and Phil will have driven the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 they will contest in the Monte Carlo rally, with its new livery.

This week’s test will be conducted over two different test stages to simulate the range of conditions which could be found on this year’s rally. It will also provide the opportunity to fine tune the final set-up and to shake down their new car.

Three years ago, the Monte Carlo Rally became the starting event for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and that year it was won by Sebastien Ogier in a Peugeot 207 S2000, with two other Peugeot 207 S2000s driven by Freddy Loix and Stephane Sarrazin, making it an all Peugeot Podium.

Guy and Phil will, therefore, be hoping the Peugeot Magic returns to the “Monte” and, with a little luck, they can finally provide Peugeot UK with the podium position in Monte Carlo they have been working for over the last two years. If all the preparation pays off for Guy Wilks, he will also be the first British driver to win the Monte Carlo rally for 43 years, when it was won in 1968 by Vic Elford in a Porsche 911. In the history of the rally there have only been five Britons on the top step of the podium.

1931 – Donald Healey driving an Invicta
1952 – Sydney Allard driving an Allard
1956 – Ronnie Adams driving a Jaguar MKVII
1964 – Paddy Hopkirk driving a Mini Cooper S
1968 – Vic Elford driving a Porsche 911


Campana bids for Rallye Monte-Carlo glory run

Posted: January 14, 2011 10:58 PM

Rising rally talent Pierre Campana will contest the centenary edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo next week, aiming to improve on the spectacular second place finish he achieved in the IRC 2WD Cup section of the event last season.

Campana, 25, took his Ellip6-backed Renault Clio R3 to the runner-up spot in the two-wheel-drive class of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season opener in January 2010. Held on ice and snow-coated mountain roads, Campana belied his lack of experience by blending raw speed with caution to claim a podium finish.

The result was the start of an impressive 2010 season for Campana, who starred in both the IRC 2WD Cup, Clio R3 Trophy in Europe and Italy.

Campana returns for his second Rallye Monte-Carlo start and will once again pilot a Clio R3 for the Italian Munaretto squad with backing from French simulation company Ellip6. Sabrina De Castelli, Campana’s long-term navigator, will continue to navigate.

“It’s a very hard event because the weather keeps changing and you never know how much grip you will have from one corner to the next with all the ice that there can be on the road,” said Corsican Campana. “But that is part of the challenge and the prestige of taking part on the rally, particularly the centenary edition, is very important to a young driver like me.”

Following three days of reconnaissance from Saturday 15 until Monday 17 January, this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo gets underway on Wednesday 19 January with the first of 13 special stages totally 337.06 kilometres.

Day one features four taxing stages in the Ardeche and Haute Loire regions of France, including the longest two tests of the rally, the 36.87-kilometre Le Moulinon-Antraigues stage and the 41.06-kilometre Burzet-St Martial run, which are separated by a tyre change halt in Vals les Bains. Both stages are part of Rallye Monte-Carlo legend and return to the itinerary after several years’ absence.

Thursday’s action features two loops of mountainous stages run twice north-east of Valence and separated by a service stop in the city. Following a final service halt in Valence on Friday morning, crews begin the 390-kilometre journey to Monaco via the last Drome stage, Montauban sur l’Ouveze-Eygalayes. Upon arrival in Monaco, cars enter parc ferme while the drivers and co-drivers are able to rest before the four night stages in the Alpes Maritimes.

Q+A with Pierre Campana

How confident are you of a strong result on Rallye Monte-Carlo?
“I have experience of last year, which is very important. I also have a good team, a good sponsor, a good car and a good co-driver so I am confident of finishing on the podium in the IRC 2WD Cup. But I know the competition will be very strong so there are no guarantees.”

What is your programme for the remainder of 2011?
“At the moment we are still trying to find the sponsorship to complete the season. Ellip6 has been a very good partner for us and thanks to them we have been able to do many rallies and get lots of experience in 2010. They are again supporting me for this Monte Carlo and of course I will never thank them enough for what they did and hope to repay them with a strong showing next week. From there, I have to look for other options.”

How important would winning the IRC 2WD Cup be to you?
“It would be the highlight of my career for sure. Rallye Monte-Carlo is probably the most famous rally in the world and a good result on the event can make a big difference to your career. It would be a dream and I will work very hard to achieve my dream.”

TV TIMES / EXTENSIVE LIVE TV COVERAGE

Posted: January 10, 2011 8:52 AM

Eurosport will broadcast more than 14 hours of coverage from the 13 stages including 12 shown live as they happen on its various platforms: Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Asia-Pacific. The extensive live transmissions will also be accessible through Eurosport Player, the channels’ online live simulcast service, while video footage will be available at eurosport.com websites, the official IRC website rally-irc.com and via the IRC iPhone App. Eurosport will also broadcast a series of short historic programmes and clips in the build up to the event with 15 one-minute programmes dedicated to a variety of specific themes.

Eurosport’s coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo will be shown as follows

All times are shown in Irish/UK (GMT):

Wednesday 19 January
09:00hrs-10:00hrs: LIVE SS1 Le Moulinon-Antraigues (Eurosport 2 & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
10:30hrs-11:45hrs: LIVE SS2 Burzet-St Martial (Eurosport 2 & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
11:00hrs-14:00hrs: LIVE SS3 St Bonnet-St Bonnet (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
15:00hrs-16:15hrs: LIVE SS4 St Bonnet-St Bonnet (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
18:45hrs-19:15hrs: Highlights of Day One (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Thursday 20 January
11:15hrs-13:00hrs: LIVE SS5 St Jean en Royans-Font D’Urle and LIVE SS6 Cimetiere de Vassieux-Col de Gaudissart (Eurosport 2 & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
15:00hrs-16:45hrs: LIVE SS7 St Jean en Royans-Font D’Urle and LIVE SS8 Cimetiere de Vassieux-Col de Gaudissart (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
18:30hrs-19:00hrs: Highlights of Day Two (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)


Friday 21 January
17:45hrs-19:45hrs: Highlights of SS9 Montauban sur l’Ouveze-Eygalayes, LIVE SS10 Moulinet-La Bollene-Vesubie and LIVE SS11 Lantosque-Luceram (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
22:00hrs-24:00hrs: LIVE SS12 Moulinet-La Bollene-Vesubie and LIVE SS13 Lantosque-Luceram (Eurosport & Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Sunday 23 January
18:45hrs-19:15hrs: Rally Review (Eurosport)

IRC Event Preview: Rallye Monte-Carlo

Posted: January 10, 2011 8:44 AM

THE CHALLENGE
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge is back with a bang. A little more than two months after the 2010 season drew to a dramatic close in Cyprus, the IRC is getting ready to celebrate its fifth anniversary on possibly the most iconic rally in the world.

Rallye Monte-Carlo has defined not only the history of rallying, but also the history of motorsport as a whole. The very word ‘rally’ derives from what used to happen in Monte-Carlo: 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.

This year is particularly significant, as the very first Rallye Monte-Carlo was held in 1911, making 2011 the centenary of the event. For the third consecutive year this epic challenge marks the opening round of the IRC: the jewel in the crown of the series calendar.

Event organiser, the Automobile Club de Monaco, has introduced a number of initiatives to celebrate this year’s important anniversary, including free entries for the capacity 120 crews. But the most enduring feature is the use of traditional stages that have formed the backbone of the event, including the famous Col de Turini tests that make up the climax of the competition on Friday night (January 21).

The cutting-edge 300-horsepower Super 2000 cars that will fight for victory would be unrecognisable to Henri Rougier, winner of the 1911 event at the wheel of his 25 horsepower Turcat-Mery. A well-known aviator and adventurer, he would later go on to win the Legion d’honneur: France’s highest honour to a civilian.

But there are many aspects to the route that would still be familiar to Rougier: the need to tip-toe the car across ice and snow-coated surfaces too slippery to stand on, and the enthusiastic crowds lining the route from Valence, the capital of France’s Drome department, to the finish in Monaco’s harbour front in the early hours of Saturday morning (January 22).

The event gained popularity over the years as the ultimate test of any car’s performance and versatility. Victory on Rallye Monte-Carlo would guarantee headlines and therefore awareness and sales, so manufacturers became more and more professional in their attempts to win what was simply known as ‘the Monte’.

By the 1960s, the event was being contested by factory teams and well-known foreign drivers such as Erik Carlsson, who took the first of his two Monte victories in a diminutive Saab 96, against much more powerful opposition from Mercedes-Benz and others.

This was a huge part of the appeal of the event: the emphasis was firmly on driving skill and technical ingenuity rather than horsepower or budgets. The same is true now. A well-driven car could slay giants, and there is no better example than the years of domination by Mini in the mid to late 60s. “It may not have been the quickest thing up the mountain,” remembers Paddy Hopkirk, a well-known former winner in the Mini Cooper. “But there was nothing that could keep up with it downhill!”

Throughout the early 1970s, the Monte belonged to ‘Il Drago’: Sandro Munari, in the fire-breathing Ferrari-engined Lancia Stratos. Other star names on the winner’s trophy include Jean-Pierre Nicolas, now the IRC’s Motorsport Development Manager, who triumphed in 1978, as well as multiple winners Walter Rohrl (1980-1982-1983-1984), Carlos Sainz (1991-1995-1998) and more recently Sebastien Loeb (2003-2004-2005-2007-2008).

One of the major changes in the recent history of Rallye Monte-Carlo took place in 2009, when it became part of the IRC. This allowed the ACM to run the event to its traditionally unique format and it also opened up the rally to a whole new audience thanks to the arrival of breath taking live television from Eurosport on virtually all of the stages.

Sebastien Ogier was the winner that year in a Peugeot 207 run by the BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team, underlining the IRC’s commitment to bringing on young talent. Freddy Loix finished second ahead of Stephane Sarrazin, making it an all-Peugeot podium. At the same time, the new Skoda Fabia S2000 made its international debut, setting a stunning pace straight out of the box.

There was another exciting debut in 2010, when M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 took part in its first rally. Mikko Hirvonen claimed a mesmerising victory in the new car, ahead of the Skodas of Juho Hanninen and Nicolas Vouilloz. A cumulative reach of twelve million different viewers was able to watch him do it on Eurosport, live as it happened.

“Winning Rallye Monte-Carlo is something very special in any driver’s career,” said Hirvonen on the podium. “It’s not until you actually have the trophy in your hand that you realise what it really means. I’ll never forget this.”

2011 Rallye Monte-Carlo centenary edition

Following three days of reconnaissance from Saturday 15 until Monday 17 January, this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo gets underway on Wednesday 19 January with the first of 13 special stages. Day one features four taxing stages in the Ardeche and Haute Loire regions, including the longest two tests of the rally, the 36.87-kilometre Le Moulinon-Antraigues stage and the 41.06-kilometre Burzet-St Martial run, which are separated by a tyre change halt in Vals les Bains. Both stages are part of Rallye Monte-Carlo legend and return to the itinerary after several years’ absence.

Thursday’s action features two loops of mountainous stages run twice north-east of Valence and separated by a service stop in the city. Following a final service halt in Valence on Friday morning, crews begin the 390-kilometre journey to Monaco via the last Drome stage, Montauban sur l’Ouveze-Eygalayes. Upon arrival in Monaco, cars enter parc ferme while the drivers and co-drivers are able to rest before the four night stages in the Alpes Maritimes.

However, only the leading 60 competitors at the completion of the Montauban sur l’Ouveze stage will be permitted to tackle the nighttime tests, in keeping with one of the event’s long-standing traditions.

The winner is likely to be known at approximately 00:30hrs on Saturday 22 January with the prize- giving taking place in the Place du Palais at 11:00hrs.

THE COMPETITORS
Rallye Monte-Carlo organisers have attracted a plentiful and star-studded entry that befits the event’s centenary celebrations. Indeed, such was the demand for spaces, that the original ceiling of 100 cars had to be increased by 20. After receiving more than 300 requests, the ACM made a selection to ensure both professional and amateur drivers could take part.

Juho Hanninen, the defending IRC champion, heads the starters in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The Finn finished second on Rallye Monte-Carlo last year after leading in 2009 and is now as equally adept on asphalt as he is on gravel. Hanninen is joined in the Czech Republic team by Jan Kopecky, runner-up in the IRC for the last two seasons, 2008 IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz from France, and Belgian Freddy Loix, whose tally of six IRC wins is more than any other driver has achieved in the series.

Several Skoda importers will be represented on the IRC season-opener. Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen will turn out for Skoda UK, while Skoda Auto Deutschland will make its IRC debut with a Fabia for 23-year-old German Mark Wallenwein.

Peugeot has also recruited a quality line-up to pilot its trio of works-assisted 207 Super 2000s. Norway’s Petter Solberg, the 2003 world rally champion, has extensive Monte-Carlo experience and will be backed up by reigning French champion Bryan Bouffier and Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stephane Sarrazin, who finished third on Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2009. Legendary French driver Francois Delecour will also be at the wheel of a 207 S2000.

Guy Wilks joins Peugeot UK for 2011 after switching from the rival Skoda UK squad. Bruno Magalahes will continue to represent Peugeot Sport Portugal and will be looking to build on the maiden victory he achieved last season. Rising star Thierry Neuville will line up for Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg.

Finn Toni Gardemeister has twice finished on the Monte-Carlo podium and will drive a 207 on a rare international outing, as will four-time IRC event winner Giandomenico Basso from Italy. Petter Solberg’s older brother Henning will be in action in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, which is also the car of choice for French driver Julien Maurin.

PROTON Motorsports is entering a brace of Satria Neo S2000s for Australian Chris Atkinson and Swede P-G Andersson. The Malaysian manufacturer’s rally partner MEM has conducted an extensive overhaul of the Satria Neo as it seeks to unlock the car’s potential.

Ex-Formula One driver Alex Caffi makes his Rallye Monte-Carlo debut in a Skoda Fabia, while former Ferrari F1 driver Patrick Tambay’s son Adrien will drive an R3T-specification 207 alongside experienced navigator Denis Giraudet.

Maurizio Verini, a one-time Italian and European rally champion, will compete in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. The 67-year-old was once co-driven by Marcello Lotti, the General Manager of the IRC. Austrian promise Andreas Aigner and Irish privateers Daniel Barry and Eamonn Boland will also represent the Japanese make.

Multiple Swiss champion Florian Gonon is the lead Subaru Impreza driver in the field, while Czech Vojtech Stajf will also compete in an Impreza and his previous Monte-Carlo experience.

IRC 2WD Cup
Interest in the IRC 2WD Cup has rocketed over the winter following a change to the regulations to increase the scope of drivers and cars allowed to take part. Previously, competing crews had to use cars from the registered IRC manufacturers to score IRC 2WD Cup drivers’ points, although competitors using Clio R3s were allowed to accumulate points on the three Clio R3 European Trophy events that ran in tandem with IRC rounds during 2010.

However, from this season the rules will be relaxed to enable drivers in any two-wheel-drive rally car built to Group A, Group N and Group R regulations to be eligible for the IRC 2WD Cup drivers' title, although only those car makes registered as an IRC manufacturer will be permitted to score manufacturers' points.

Young Briton Harry Hunt returns to defend his title in a Citroen DS3 R3 following his switch from an M-Sport Ford Fiesta. He will face strong opposition from Clio R3 drivers Pierre Campana, Andrea Crugnola and Eric Mauffrey, fellow DS3 exponents Marc Amourette and Mathieu Arzeno, Honda Civic runners Lionel Comole and Marcel Piepers, French promise Jeremi Ancian in a 207 and a host of drivers in Abarth’s 500 R3T, including former IRC 2WD Cup frontrunner Manuel Villa.

THE EXPECTATIONS

Chris Atkinson (Australia), PROTON Satria Neo S2000:
“Starting the season with the Monte is awesome. I've always gone well on the event, but it is really tough. You never know what's coming around the next corner: it could be dry asphalt, wet asphalt, snow or ice.”

Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000:
“This will be my second experience of Rallye Monte-Carlo. Like always I am confident in myself but this event is never easy with the weather changing all the time and the tyre choices always difficult to make.”

Juho Hanninen (Finland), Skoda Fabia S2000:
“Of course I want to win but it depends so much on the conditions and how fast the French drivers will be. If we have dry Tarmac then I think it will be very difficult for me to win. If there is snow and ice then I will be much more confident.”

10 Škoda Fabia Super 2000 to compete

Posted: January 8, 2011 9:21 PM

A total of 10 Fabia Super 2000 will appear at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally this month (19th-22nd). This is the opening round of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge Series (IRC), in which Škoda will defend its 2010 Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles.

Škoda Motorsport (factory team) will appear with both of its successful crews – last year's IRC winners Juho Hänninen & Mikko Markkula and runners-up, Jan Kopecký and Petr Starý. Škoda Motorsport's all-conquering Fabia Super 2000 project has received positive feedback from Škoda importers in many markets. As a result, the Monte Carlo Rally will see some big names driving a Fabia Super 2000, including Škoda UK Motorsport’s new driver Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2008 IRC Drivers’ Champion Nicolas Vouilloz, Freddy Loix (winner of three IRC races in 2010) and Mark Wallenwein of Škoda Auto Germany. A number of other Fabia Super 2000 are going to appear in the colours of private teams, all of whom are planning to fight for the best possible result in Monte Carlo, one of the world's most challenging rally events.

The Škoda Motorsport team will introduce an updated livery for Monte Carlo - the most striking element of which is the strong shade of green which has become synonymous with the Škoda brand. In contrast with the design used over the past few years, the new green-and-white combination has been reversed. The front doors will also bear a logo commemorating 110 years of Škoda’s participation in motorsport – an accolade only a handful of manufacturers can claim.

The Monte Carlo Rally starts on 19 January in the area around Valence, France, and ends with night-time special stages in the mountains near Monte Carlo in the early hours of the morning on 22 January. Drivers can look forward to a total of 13 special stages (337 competition kilometres) and over a thousand kilometres of road sections plus unpredictable weather, as is usual this time of the year.


Historic TV Programmes to celebrate Monte centenary

Posted: January 6, 2011 3:00 PM

Eurosport, the international media partner of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the promoter of the IRC through Eurosport Events, will help to celebrate Rallye Monte-Carlo’s centenary with a series of short historic programmes and clips featuring archive images and highlights of the event since it first ran in 1911.

From this Saturday (8 January), Eurosport will screen unique and exclusive footage from the legendary rally through 15 one-minute programmes dedicated to a specific theme. These include a look back at the Group A and Group B eras, profiles of event legends, heroes and the French Musketeers, Lancia’s domination of the rally over the years, female success including Pat Moss and Michelle Mouton and a focus on the Col de Turini at night.

Each programme will be shown on Eurosport on several occasions as a teaser ahead of the IRC season-opener and will also be screened during the extensive live coverage of the rally, which includes broadcasting 12 of the 13 stages live as they happen.
The programmes will also be available on the official IRC website, www.rally-irc.com once the event gets underway on Wednesday 19 January.

Solberg brothers set for Monte battle

Posted: January 6, 2011 2:59 PM

Brothers Henning and Petter Solberg will continue their friendly rivalry when they contest Rallye Monte-Carlo later this month.

The Norwegians will both be making their debuts in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with Henning piloting an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 and Petter lining up in a Peugeot 207 S2000. Both have prior knowledge of Rallye Monte-Carlo, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Henning Solberg will link up with Austrian navigator Ilka Minor, who has recovered from injuries sustained in a crash on a round of her national championship last season. Chris Patterson, who hails from Northern Ireland, will partner Petter Solberg.

Although Petter has enjoyed a more successful career than his older brother, it will be Henning who will potentially have the upper hand on Rallye Monte-Carlo thanks to his greater experience of driving Super 2000 machinery.

“We have been competing against each other for many years now so this is nothing different,” said Petter Solberg. “Like me Henning is there for the passion and loves to drive. He’s two years older than me but I don’t think either of us gets any smarter with age. He just has more experience.”

Bouffier confident for strong Monte run

Posted: January 6, 2011 2:56 PM

Bryan Bouffier believes his lack of Rallye Monte-Carlo experience won’t put him at a disadvantage when he contests the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season-opener from 18-22 January.

The defending French rally champion made his debut on the legendary event last season, retiring his Subaru Impreza from a possible point-scoring finish with a mechanical failure. He will return for a second attempt this year in a Peugeot Sport-prepared 207 Super 2000.

He said:
“This event is never easy with tyre choice making a big difference. I also don’t have much experience but I am in a fantastic position. I am in a very good team with two other very good drivers and this means I am highly motivated and full of confidence.”

Bouffier began his preparations for the centenary edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo with a three-day test in the south of France last month. He completed one day on dry asphalt and two days on snow-coated roads.

“It was good training for the rally because we were able to adapt the set-up of the car to the conditions quite well and I don’t have a big experience of driving on snow so it was good for this reason also,” said Bouffier.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: January 4, 2011 7:57 PM

Grand Prix racer Caffi braced for Monte debut

Posted: December 30, 2010 6:32 PM

Ex-Formula One driver Alex Caffi says he will have nothing to fear when he makes his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo next month.

Caffi, 46, will drive a Skoda Fabia Super 2000 on the centenary edition of the asphalt event, which is regarded as one of the toughest rallies in the world due to the constant threat of ice and snow.

"I have done some rallies before but they were small rallies and never in snow and ice," said Caffi, who took part in 56 Formula One grands prix. "I understand it will be very difficult but for my first grand prix [at Monza in 1986] I went in a turbo car with 1500bhp with no testing and finished the race. If I did something like that then I know I can do this. I don't fear anything."

Caffi, who also has extensive experience of racing sportscars, said he was keeping his expectations of a strong result firmly in check, adding: "I just want to get some experience and make the finish. If I can pass the Col de Turini two times in the night then I will be very happy. It will be a big sensation."

Italian team DP Autosport will oversee Caffi's debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo, which will once again enjoy extensive live television coverage on Eurosport.

Mixed weather test boosts champion Hanninen

Posted: December 30, 2010 6:20 PM

Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen says changeable weather during a test in France last week has boosted his chances of winning Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time.

Finn Hanninen finished second on the event last January and will be among the favourites for victory in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The event has a reputation for unpredictable weather conditions with snow and ice a frequent hazard for the crews.

"We had dry Tarmac then wet Tarmac and then snow and ice so it was all the conditions that we could possibly have on the rally," said Hanninen, 29. "We were also able to see how the tyres performed in the different conditions so we got some useful data."

Hanninen will test again in Czech Republic in early January alongside a number of other Skoda drivers.
"We'll have real winter then so it will be good preparation also."

Solberg to fight for Monte-Carlo IRC glory

Posted: December 30, 2010 6:19 PM

Petter Solberg has vowed to fight for victory when he makes his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo next month.

The former world rally champion will drive a Peugeot Sport-run 207 Super 2000 on the asphalt classic, which he has contested on eight previous occasions.

"For sure there are many drivers doing the event who have much more experience in Super 2000 cars while I have none," said Solberg.
"But I have a lot of experience on the rally and I know what can go wrong so I will be prepared. Like every other rally I do I will be thinking to push and to win and I will come up with a proper plan and strategy to do that."

The 36-year-old from Norway continued:
"I like the rally a lot even though I have not always had the best result. Because it will be the 100-year anniversary the rally will be very, very special."

Solberg and Northern Irish co-driver Chris Patterson will be among 120 crews taking part on the event, which runs from 18-22 January and will be televised live on Eurosport. They will get their first experience of the 207 they will use on the event during a test in France early next month.

Andersson delivers on first test in PROTON

Posted: December 18, 2010 4:56 PM

Double Junior World Rally Champion P-G Andersson has completed his first test in the PROTON Satria Neo S2000 he will drive on next month’s Monte Carlo Rally.

The 30-year-old Swede drove the Satria for two days just south of Grenoble earlier this week and was delighted with the PROTON. Andersson will join regular PROTON driver Chris Atkinson in the team’s first assault on the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Monte Carlo Rally.

Both Andersson and Atkinson will return to the French Alps early next month when they will carry out an extensive pre-event test in preparation for what’s being billed as one of the toughest and most competitive rallies of the season.

For Andersson’s first drive, the PROTON ran in its current 2010 specification, with the next evolution of the two-litre engine ready for his next test. He completed more than 200 kilometres of trouble-free running in heavy snow.

Quotes
P-G Andersson said:
“I knew from a long time ago, from talking to the other drivers, that the PROTON chassis was good – and it really is good. I’m very pleased with the first test. As the conditions on the test changed a little bit, we made some changes to the chassis and you could feel those changes straight away. It was good to get plenty of running on studded tyres before the Monte. By the end of the second day of the test, we did have a clean line coming on the road and we were able to run without the studs, but it would be good to get some time on dry asphalt on the next test. I’m really looking forward to the event now. I feel positive with the car and the team. The Monte is going to be a very big event for everybody, there are a lot of very good drivers coming out for the event and the competition will be tough. But I’m very happy with the PROTON and where I am for the start of the season.”

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We’ve been very impressed with what P-G achieved from his first two days in the car. He’s gelled immediately with the team and we’re all looking forward to working together next season. We got some great winter conditions for the test, it was between minus nine and minus 13 degrees for the two days. P-G did plenty of driving, including some running in the dark and he was very happy with the car. It was a very productive two days, but the next test, next month, is where we will finalise the set-up for P-G and Chris before the start of the Monte. This is a great way for PROTON Motorsports to end 2010, ahead of what’s clearly going to be an even more exciting 2011!”

Star-studded entry for Rallye Monte-Carlo

Posted: December 9, 2010 4:31 PM

A star-studded capacity entry will contest Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, from 18-22 January.

Two former IRC champions, several IRC regulars, previous Monte-Carlo winners, Formula One heroes past and present, plus four world rally title-winners are set to take the start of the event in Valence next month.

Rally organisers, the Automobile Club de Monaco, received 305 requests for the initial 100 available entry spaces and have created a waiting list in case any of the successful applicants are unable to take part.

Among those appearing on the list of entries are 2010 IRC champion Juho Hanninen, former IRC title-winner Nicolas Vouilloz, IRC regulars Jan Kopecky, Freddy Loix, Bruno Magalhaes, Thierry Neuville and Guy Wilks, French rally champion Bryan Bouffier, Le Mans 24 Hours racer Stephane Sarrazin, 1994 Monte-Carlo victor Francois Delecour, Monte-Carlo podium finisher Toni Gardemeister, ex-Scuderia Italia and Footwork Formula One driver Alex Caffi, current Lotus Renault GP Team driver Robert Kubica and rally world champions Andreas Aigner, P-G Andersson, Daniel Elena, and Petter Solberg.

In total 39 Super 2000 cars will be in action while some of the 27 countries represented include Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovenia and United Kingdom and United States of America.

List of Entries accepted (Unseeded)

Posted: December 9, 2010 4:26 PM

PEUGEOT CONFIRMS STRONG ENTRY FOR RALLY MONTE CARLO - Petter Solberg, Bryan Bouffier, Stéphane Sarrazin, Guy Wilks, Thierry Neuville, Bruno Magalhaes

Posted: December 7, 2010 12:57 PM

For the third year running, the new season of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) will kick off with the Monte Carlo rally, and Peugeot will be bidding to win the event with a host of familiar names.

This year will see ten Peugeot 207 S2000s line up to contest the 100th anniversary of the legendary Monte Carlo rally. This strong showing has just one aim, to mark this anniversary with another Peugeot win.

The IRC regulars, Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks (driving in his first rally for Peugeot UK), Peugeot Belgium’s Thierry Neuville and Peugeot Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes will also be joined by, World Rally star Petter Solberg, Bryan Bouffier and Stéphane Sarrazin, all driving Peugeot 207 S2000s.

It will be the Peugeot 207 S2000’s fifth season and it continues to stand out as one of the cars to beat after numerous wins in many different countries. Throughout its career to date, Peugeot Sport has continually evolved and developed the car and all the top cars running in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally will be the latest Peugeot 207 S2000 Evolution.

Following its one-two-three success on the 2009 Monte Carlo Rally, Peugeot will be targeting a return to the top step of the podium in January's event which promises to be a fiercely-fought, action packed rally.

GUY WILKS AND PHIL PUGH GET READY FOR MONTE CARLO RALLY

Posted: December 1, 2010 2:52 PM

This week, Guy and co-driver Phil Pugh started their build up to next year’s 100th Rally Monte Carlo with a visit to Kronos Racing, who will prepare their Peugeot UK 207 S2000 next year.

With 55 days before the rally starts, Guy and Phil spent some time at Kronos Racing with their team of engineers to ensure the Peugeot 207 S2000 is set-up just as they want it. Having been knocked off the top spot this year, Peugeot is fully focused to ensure the Peugeot 207 S2000 gets back into its winning ways. Success in next year’s IRC will be more than just obtaining good results on each of the rallies; it starts now with the building of the car and ensuring everything is as perfect as possible for Guy and Phil.

Guy said:
“I already knew Kronos from the outside, but now seeing it from the inside, it is no surprise why they are so good! The level of professionalism is second to none throughout the team and the atmosphere is pure passion for rallying and winning!! They really inspire confidence.”

With seat positions and driver and co-driver aids all agreed, the building of the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 can now continue ready for the first test sessions.

“It was my first time to sit in the Peugeot and, for my tall frame, I found a good position. We made a number of small changes, like the first time you sit in any car: seat position, seat, belts, gear stick etc. It was all done with ease by the team. I just want to drive it now!!” commented Guy.

The Peugeot UK 207 S2000, which will be campaigned by Guy and Phil, will benefit from all the recent evolutions to the car and further upgrades as the season progresses.

As the clock counts down to the start of next year’s Monte Carlo rally on 19th January, both Guy and Phil cannot wait to drive the Peugeot UK 207 S2000 and start their 2011 IRC campaign with Peugeot UK.

“It will be awesome to have such a great team as Kronos, Peugeot UK, and Peugeot Sport behind me for what is possibly the most famous and arguably the most difficult rally in the world. I don’t like to wish my life away, but, I can’t wait for 2011!” said Guy.

Over 250 Entries Received

Posted: November 24, 2010 12:52 PM

With two weeks remaining before applications for the 79th Monte Carlo Automobile Rally 2011 close, the Automobile Club de Monaco has now received more than 250 registrations for this centenary edition of world's oldest motorsport event.

One would have to turn the clock back to the 1980s to match that number of appearances for the Monegasque event.

Only one hundred crews will take part in this year's event, so a selection will have to be made, unfortunately for those who do not make the cut. Should this phenomenal interest continue, the Automobile Club de Monaco aims to increase the application limit to 150 crews in 2012.

The official teams have already sent the ACM the names of the drivers and co-drivers who will open the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season:

    * For Skoda, which is celebrating its own 110th anniversary:
    Hanninen / Markkula, Loix / Miclotte, Kopecky / Stary, Vouilloz / Veillas and Mikkelsen / Floene

    * For Peugeot:
    Magalhaes / Magalhaes (Portugal), Neuville / Klinger and Wilks / Pugh (UK)

    * Also Delecour / Savignoni (Peugeot 207 S2000), Elena, 7-time co-driver world champion with his inseparable team-mate Campana, in a DS3 R3, and Gardemeister / Tuomi.
As soon as the application window is closed, on 6th December 2010, the selection committee will draw up a list of the 100 crews selected and publish immediately the results with names.

Renault Sport to star on Monte Carlo

Posted: October 25, 2010 4:00 PM

Renault Sport will have a strong presence on the Monte Carlo Rally, as once more the Clio Renault Sport R3 Trophy will kick off at the IRC season-opener next year.

Within the 2011 Monte Carlo Rally, Renault Sport Technologies will give away prizes to any driver winning Group R in a Clio Renault Sport R3. A similar scheme will be put in place for any driver winning R2 in a Twingo Renault Sport R2 and R1 in a Twingo Renault Sport R1. The exact structure is to be confirmed, while the Automobile Club de Monaco will offer free entries to all the competitors.

Kubica shows Monte Carlo interest

Posted: October 25, 2010 4:00 PM

Renault's Formula One star Robert Kubica is interested in a return to the Monte Carlo Rally next year, having taken part in the event this year.

However, the Pole did not get too far as he suffered a terminal engine failure on the prologue stage that meant he was not able to take further part in proceedings. Now though, Kubica aims to complete some unfinished business by looking at taking part in the event again, at the wheel of a Renault Clio R3.

Kubica has also taken part in several national rallies in Italy and beyond this year, with some promising results. Most recently, he took a class win and third overall on the Antibes Rally in the south of France at the wheel of a Renault Clio.

"Rallying is for fun: it is a hobby and a passion," he said. "Formula One is my job, but I hope to be back because I really like it. Who knows what will happen..."

MICHELIN TO CELEBRATE CENTENNIAL OF MONTE CARLO RALLY BY GIVING AWAY 100 TYRES

Posted: October 19, 2010 7:37 PM

Michelin will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Monte Carlo Rally by giving away 100 free racing tyres to the 25 highest-placed amateur competitors at the end of the event. Scheduled to take place from 18 to 22 January 2010, the rally will begin in Valence, France.

Michelin has been involved in motorsports ever since 1895, when the car it had specially built for the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race, the Eclair, proved to the public that pneumatic tires could be used on automobiles. This led Edouard Michelin, co-founder of the Group, to confidently proclaim after the race,
“In ten years, all cars will be equipped with tires.” A century later, his words ring truer than ever.

Since the pioneering days of racing, Michelin has been a constant force in road and race track events. The Group continues to use motorsport as a real-life laboratory for validating its cutting-edge technological innovations in the most extreme conditions before transferring them to street tires. Racing also helps Michelin improve the performance balance of its products and reduce their environmental impact. Motorsport continues to be a powerful stimulus for Michelin in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

The 79th Monte Carlo Rally—the first event of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge—will allow Michelin to once again showcase its technological know-how, which has been part of the brand’s genetic code for more than a century.

D-100 days to start of Rallye Monte-Carlo centenary

Posted: October 11, 2010 7:09 PM

    - Free entry fees for 100 participants
    - Michelin to offer 100 tyres
    - Full TV coverage, including 12 stages LIVE
    - A legendary route
    - New IRC regulations for the 2WD category
The centenary edition of the world-famous Rallye Monte-Carlo will get underway in 100 days from now when it opens the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season, from 19-22 January.

A special presentation of the Centenary Rally was made last week in Paris in the presence of Michel Boeri, President of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), Laurent-Eric Le Lay, President of Eurosport Group, René Isoart, ACM General Commissioner, and Géraldine Filiol, Managing Director of Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. On this occasion, a number of exciting key decisions were announced to celebrate the rally's 100th anniversary.

100 Competitors
The Automobile Club de Monaco has confirmed that entry fees for this historic 2011 edition will be free of charge for all of the 100 competitors that are accepted for the opening round of next season's Intercontinental Rally Challenge. As part of the celebrations for the event's centenary, this exceptional incentive aims to encourage amateur drivers, who are long-term supporters of the event, to enter.

As a means of providing additional assistance to amateur drivers, tyre company Michelin will provide 100 free competition tyres to the 25 highest-placed amateur competitors at the end of the event.

Full TV broadcast including live coverage of 12 stages
Once again, Eurosport Events will provide large-scale TV production for live coverage of the event, using a mixture of aerial shots, on-board footage and ground-based cameras. The Monte Carlo centenary edition will benefit from a full TV production with a total of 14 hours of television over the three days of the competition, including live coverage of 12 stages combined with regular highlights each evening.

The unique media coverage throughout the world will include extensive live broadcasts on Eurosport's network that will reach over 121 million homes across 59 countries in Europe, complemented by comprehensive coverage on Eurosport 2, Eurosport Asia-Pacific, Eurosportnews and the eurosport.com websites.

On top of the extensive live transmissions on Eurosport, 30 broadcasters from around the world have already committed to cover the event. Ongoing discussions with other television channels will continue at Sportel, the biggest international meeting of sport and television organised in Monaco from 11 to 14 October.

The groundbreaking coverage of the 2010 rally in January received widespread praise and attracted a cumulative reach of 12 million* different viewers on Eurosport.

The route of the Centenary rally
The route has been drawn up based entirely on historical roads and it will include famous locations of the Rallye Monte-Carlo selected from its very earliest days. Starting in Valence on Wednesday 19 January, the event covers 13 classic Tarmac stages in the Ardèche, Haute Loire, Drôme and Alpes Maritimes regions of France over a competitive distance of 337 kilometres, prior to the finish in Monaco's glamorous harbour in the early hours of Saturday 22 January.

Revised regulations for the IRC 2WD Cup
In another new development from next year's Rallye Monte-Carlo onwards, the eligibility for the IRC 2WD Cup has been revised. Drivers running in any two-wheel drive rally car built to Group A, Group N and Group R regulations - even if they are at the wheel of cars not built by a registered IRC manufacturer - will be able to score driver points on all rounds of the series and be eligible for the IRC 2WD Cup drivers' title. Only those car makes registered as an IRC manufacturer will be permitted to score manufacturers' points.

The decision is expected to pave the way for increased competition by encouraging more drivers to contest this exciting addition to the IRC, while also acknowledging the increasing number of manufacturers building cars for the emerging Group R category.

Michel Boeri, President of the Automobile Club de Monaco, said: "Amateurs are the bedrock on which the Monte Carlo rally event and its history have been built. We have unveiled a range of initiatives to encourage them to participate in this historic edition, and to give them the chance to compete against professional and established drivers. Our aim is to combine tradition and modernity, and to bring together the drivers, the fans, the organisers as well as the regions in a popular and friendly festive atmosphere. This is the spirit that we would like to express for the rally centenary. Finally, the thrilling live broadcasts provided by our partner Eurosport Events, will give TV viewers an extra dimension, bringing to life the ambience of this rally".

"It is a great honour to start the fifth season of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with such a famous and prestigious event as the Monte-Carlo rally, particularly during its centenary year," said Laurent-Eric Le Lay, President of Eurosport Group. "Producing 12 stages live, including the Turini stages run at night, remains a big technical and logistical challenge, but this event is synonymous with the sport of rallying and our ambitious TV production plans are worthy of an epic motorsport event like this one. Viewers will be able to experience this legendary event live and feel the drama of the Monte Carlo Rally directly as it happens!" Le Lay concluded.

(*) source: Eurometrix - AGF/GFK, SKO, BARB, TNS Global, MMS, AGB Nielsen Media Research, TNS Gallup, ARMA/GFK Romania

Hirvonen keen on more Monte magic

Posted: October 9, 2010 1:22 PM

Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen is targeting a return to Rallye Monte-Carlo next year, having won the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season on the debut of M-Sport's Ford Fiesta S2000.

So far, no deal has been agreed for Hirvonen to contest the event but both he and tyre firm Pirelli, which supported his bid back in January, are keen to take part.

"I've not heard of any plans for me to compete so far, but if the chance came along I would definitely take it," said Hirvonen. "Monte Carlo was one of the most satisfying of my wins this year, because it was a brand new car and everyone had worked so hard to get us there. It's a great event and if you win Monte Carlo, it's something really special."

Rallye Monte-Carlo will celebrate its centenary next season when it runs from 19-22 January, 2010.

No entry fee payable for Monte Carlo crews

Posted: September 16, 2010 9:06 AM

The Automobile Club de Monaco has announced that entry fees for the 79th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo from 19-21 January, 2011, will be free of charge for all 100 competitors that are accepted for the opening round of next season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

As part of the celebrations for the event’s centenary, the ACM has decided to offer this exceptional incentive to encourage amateur drivers to register.

“Today we are very happy to confirm that entry fees will be waived,” said René Isoart, the ACM General Commissioner. “Our aim is to encourage many amateur drivers to return and participate in the Monte Carlo Rally. They are the bedrock on which this event and its history have been built. We will soon be announcing further initiatives to encourage amateurs.”

The final route of the 79th running of the rally has also been drawn up and is based entirely on historical routes with famous locations selected from the rally’s earliest days.

“The route of the centenary rally was put together from historical routes,” Isoart explained. “Professionals, knowledgeable amateurs and rally fans have often heard of these legendary locations. And so it has been a great pleasure for us to bring them all together in one event. Civil and police authorities in all the departments covered – Ardèche, Drôme, Haute-Loire, Alpes de Hautes Provence, Hautes Alpes, and, of course, Alpes Maritimes – were all involved, as well as many others without whom this great event would have been quite impossible. We would also like to thank the Federation Française du Sport Automobile, for their assistance in sporting matters.”

The first day of the event, Wednesday 19 January, will be based entirely in Ardèche and comprise four stages: Le Moulinon – Antraigues (36.87 kilometres), Burzet – St Martial (41.06 km) and St Bonnet – St Bonnet (25.22 km), which will be run twice.

Thursday 20 January will take place in the department of Drôme, and will be the shortest day, with two stages, St Jean en Royans – 3-road intersection (23.01 km) and Vassieux cemetery – Col de Gaudissart (24.13 km) run twice.

Friday 21 January will be the longest day of the rally and, according to the organisers, probably the most thrilling. Drivers leave early in the morning from Valence and drive to Monaco via the traditional Montauban sur l’Ouveze – Eygalayes stage, which measures 29.89 km. Upon arrival in Monaco, cars will enter the parc fermé area prior to the final night-time stages, which feature two passes of the famous Col du Turini: Moulinet – La Bollene-Vesubie (23.41 km) and Lantosque – Luceram (18.81 km). The two passes of each stage will be separated by a service halt in Monaco.

Monte Carlo decision delights IRC champion Meeke

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:29 PM

Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke says the decision of the Automobile Club de Monaco to continue its relationship with the IRC for a third season is "great news" for the Eurosport Events-promoted series.

The 2011 IRC season will get underway on the world-famous rally from Wednesday 19 January to Saturday 23 January with next year's event marking 100 years since the first Monte Carlo Rally took place on 21 January 1911.

Meeke said:
"It's great news and shows the Monte organisers like the style of how the IRC is approaching the sport by taking it back to its roots and encouraging amateurs and importers to take part. The TV coverage on Eurosport is second to none and for a driver the Monte is one of the biggest challenges in rallying, if not motorsport as a whole."

Full details of the route and several key features, including initiatives to encourage the participation of amateur drivers as well as live television coverage, will be announced later in the year. The ACM has confirmed the rally route will include 324 competitive kilometres over 13 stages.

2011 - an exceptional year: Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo centenary and IRC opening event

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:28 PM

The Automobile Club de Monaco is pleased to announce that the 79th Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo will take place from Wednesday 19th to Saturday 23rd January 2011, and once again be the opening event of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
2011 is a particularly special year, marking the centenary of the creation of the Monte Carlo Rally, which was first held on 21st January 1911.

To celebrate the centenary, the ACM will combine tradition and modernity, bringing together the best elements from different events.

The selected route and stages will return to famous landmarks of old, steeped in Monte-Carlo Rally history. There will be a completely new distribution of stages, with the first day concentrating on roads in the department of Ardeche (south and north), and the second day on those in Drome. The final day will be held on the mountain roads behind Monaco and Nice. In total, there will be 13 Special Stages, some run twice. The total distance covered will be 1,340 km, including 324 km of specials.

The participation of amateur drivers will also be a major priority for this year's rally.
« Amateur drivers, explained René Isoart, ACM General Commissioner, have been instrumental in some of the most wonderful episodes of the history of the Monte Carlo Rally. With their involvement, the rally was able to develop and span a whole century of automobile sport with great success. And so we would like the rally centenary to reflect this spirit - in early September, we will unveil a range of initiatives to encourage participation of amateur drivers in this historic edition, along with details of the route ».

The Eurosport Group, which promotes the IRC through Eurosport Events, will once again be the privileged partner of the ACM, and provide a large-scale TV production for live coverage of the event.

Event Website

Posted: July 22, 2010 12:27 PM

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