HARDER

A lack of snow on the Monte Carlo His­toric Rally cre­ated a false sense of se­cu­rity. By Johnny Ti­pler THAN IT LOOKS

Motor Sport News - - Historic Monte Carlo -

T

he His­toric it­er­a­tion of the big-time FIA rally fol­lows in its tyre tracks a few days later, spilling over from late Jan­uary into Fe­bru­ary, and this year’s was the 19th edi­tion.

Most of the var­ied en­try com­prises com­mit­ted am­a­teur ral­ly­ists helm­ing semi-ex­otic his­toric cars built be­tween 1955 and 1980, from tiny Vespa to Lan­cia Stratos, and there’s al­ways a hand­ful of for­mer French su­per­stars such as Jean Rag­notti, Daniel Elena, and ‘Biche’ (co-driver to Jean-claude An­druet). It’s an ex­tremely pop­u­lar chal­lenge for north­ern Euro­peans who rel­ish a blast of mid-win­ter Mediter­ranean heat af­ter five days bat­tling the el­e­ments in wild coun­try.

An en­try of 297 cars set out from five widely scat­tered cities – Oslo, Glas­gow, Bad Hom­burg, Reims and Barcelona – for this year’s con­vo­luted Con­cen­tra­tion Routes, mak­ing the long haul through the night to con­verge on Port Her­cule in the Prin­ci­pal­ity on Satur­day Jan­uary 30.

The fol­low­ing day, the en­tire ret­inue left town, head­ing for the Ardeche stages, 186 miles back in the di­rec­tion most had al­ready come, tack­ling four Reg­u­lar­i­ties be­tween Sis­teron, Saint-nazaire-en-roy­ans and Va­lence on the Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Leg along the way.

Head­ing out from Va­lence at crack of dawn, the first part of the Com­mon Leg com­prised a loop through re­mote, forested, high hill coun­try, tack­ling four Reg­u­lar­i­ties be­tween Le Mouli­non, An­traigues, Burzet, the aptly named Sain­tBon­net-le-froid, and La­mas­tre, with ser­vice half­way round at St Agreve, then back to Va­lence for the night.

Af­ter the 12th Reg­u­lar­ity, the Lan­cia Ful­via 1600 HF of Gior­dano Mozzi/stefania Bi­acci was lead­ing, hotly pur­sued by the Ford Es­cort RS2000 Mk2 of Jean-luc Hasler/ Syl­vain Blon­deau, just 26 points be­hind the Ital­ian ma­chine.

The en­tourage then climbed south­east again via the Ver­cors and Alpes-de-haute-provence, en­coun­ter­ing two Reg­u­lar­i­ties en route back to Monaco. There was lit­tle respite.

At 2000hrs, cars were flagged off at one-minute in­ter­vals, mak­ing for the Alpes-mar­itimes and the in­nu­mer­able hair­pins of the daunting Col de Turini sec­tion, where nor­mally snow, ice and de­formed road sur­faces gov­ern the ac­tion. This year the snow was com­pletely ab­sent from the roads, but an un­fore­seen haz­ard re­placed it: fog, with driz­zle.

Two Reg­u­lar­i­ties al­tered all the clas­si­fi­ca­tions. First, Sospel/ Moulinet/col de Turini/la Bol­lene – 52.8 twist­ing kilo­me­tres (32.8 miles) of part-forested hill­top lanes. The two lead­ing crews over the last five Reg­u­lar­i­ties –Mozzi/bi­acci and Hasler/blon­deau – were well matched, and the lead re­mained un­changed. How­ever, a stage win for the Opel Kadett GTE of Ray­mond Du­rand/se­bastien Chol re­duced the gap to the lead­ers, while se­cond for Gian­maria Aghem/diego Cu­mino in a Ful­via el­e­vated them to third over­all.

Fi­nally, the Lan­tosque/coaraze stage pre­sented 47.2km (29.3 miles) run in thick fog, cost the lead­ing Lan­cia crew vic­tory. Their tyre choice was ill-judged and they ended the stage 158th and fell to 92nd in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion: that’s how dra­mat­i­cally the or­der can change.

Thus, Daniele Per­fetti and Ron­nie Kes­sel (Alpine-re­nault A110) stole a march on ev­ery­one else, hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated fewer penal­ties to achieve the vic­tory, even though they hadn’t won any of the Reg­u­lar­i­ties. It’s no­table that Per­fetti has an­other string to his bow, hav­ing won the Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship in 2012 in a Porsche 997 (also with­out scor­ing a win!).

Se­cond were Hasler/blon­deau, while the Coup des Dames was won by reg­u­lars St­effi Edel­hoff and Bir­git Binder in their Ford Es­cort RS2000 Mk1 in 62nd over­all. Elena and Olivier Cam­pana took the tro­phy for the first Mone­gasque crew, fin­ish­ing 11th in their VW Golf GTI.

While it was great to see ‘proper’ com­pe­ti­tion cars like Alpines, 911s and Ful­vias head­ing the run­ning or­der, the con­stantly up­dat­ing pro­duc­tion times­pan elic­its ever more hot hatches and thus re­li­a­bil­ity and moder­nity, with Golf GTIS and Sciroc­cos in­creas­ingly nu­mer­ous. Next year, be­ing the 20th His­torique, it should be quite a party. ■

Al­most 300 cars flocked to the event Per­fetti/kes­sel Alpine moved ahead late on

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