Rallye Monte Carlo Guide - Spectator Guide

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Information will be accurate at the time of writing, so some information in older rally spectator guides should be checked. However, most information will still be relevant so we hope you enjoy this service.

Rallye Monte Carlo Guide by Ben Mulkern - Thu June 14, 2001

Introduction

The Monte Carlo Rally was the first overseas WRC event that I travelled to, and what an event it is. Being a sports nut, when you look at the international sporting calendar for January, there is not a lot happening, so the Monte is a wonderful event in what is typically a pretty boring month. The only thing on Eurosport in January is usually the Andros Ice Racing and Nordic Skiing! The Monte is certainly something to look forward to during the WRC's winter break.

How to get there ...

For any European traveller the nearest airport is at Nice, which is approximately 45 minutes drive away from Monaco. Getting out of the airport and onto the Autoroute (the A8) is a nightmare - you head along the Promenade des Anglais (which is the long sea front in Nice), before cutting inland across huge lanes of traffic before heading up to the A8 - the French drivers don't give an inch so you need to be positive when you drive over there! I always travel by Easyjet to Nice, as they are both cheap and offer an excellent service - fares can be as cheap as £50 return from the UK, and they travel from other European destinations such as Barcelona, Geneva and Amsterdam.

Car parking in Monaco is not good, but I always head for the underground car park near to the famous 'Le Rascasse' restaurant - it is quite expensive but it's central and fairly straightforward to get in and out of.

The Rally Route ...

The route has changed enormously in the five years or so that I have been going, and you can see that the 2001 event will have more changes, following the ACM's total disregard for safety measures at the 2000 event. The ACM is the Automobile Club de Monaco, and they are the event organisers, and also the organisers for the Monaco F1 Grand Prix; they are a real heavyweight organisation. Don't expect to see any competitive action in Monte Carlo itself, although in 1997 they unusually ran a super-special around the harbour which was just awesome. All of the action takes place outside of the principality, either in the mountains to the north (Turini etc.), or further west usually around the town of Gap. Just a point to note - Monte Carlo is the town, which is located in the principality (or country) of Monaco.

A typical route would be day's one and three over the Turini stages, with day two over at Gap. If that is the case, you will need to book your Gap accommodation al least four months or so in advance (unless you're sleeping in the car that is, which I have done occasionally!). On eht issue of cars, it is easy to hire a car from Nice airport, but make sure that you have pre-booked, or things get expensive. The Hotel Ibis (a large hotel chain) in Gap is popular and reasonable in price, and can be found on the internet. For days one and three, you can stop in Nice (at the Ibis near the railway station if you like), but it does mean early starts to get to the stages on time. As for stages to watch, I have been onto the Col de Turini once, just to see the famous sections over the top, but I would not bother more than that as it is busy, and there are some nutters up there and it can get a bit rowdy. Also, you can forget seeing any other stages in the day as it gets so busy on the roads. There is a small town called Luceram to the north of Monaco, and sometimes a stage starts there, and the first few kilometres are an awesome section of bends which I try to get to. On the long second day, the stage to watch is Sisteron - Thoard. Many times it decides the rally; I have always been to the start section, but apparently the run in to the finish at Thoard is fantastic - a must see.

Always avoid the start of the first stage of the day, as they get hugely busy and you risk a stage cancellation just like last year. I prefer stage finishes as you can get the stage times from the boards at the stop line, and you can usually get away fairly cleanly if you decide not to stop to see every car through. Trying to get hold of the rally programme is not easy - you need to go to the Rally HQ, which is always at the Sporting Club, which you can find close to the Casino in the square in Monaco. The ACM's website is pretty good also; see the link below.

What's the weather like? - my experience is that is is usually fairly mild, particularly in and around Monaco, however up around Gap it can get very cold, so you need two good layers, fleece plus waterproof outer layer.

When you are there you must ...

Visit the 'Stars and Bars' restaurant on the quayside near the underground car park I mentioned (I think it is called Quai Albert 1), which is a great place to eat, and there is loads of motorsport memorabilia on the walls of the restaurant, including a pair of Didier Auriol's Toyota Team Europe overalls which I think are just fabulous. There is also the Ferrari car dealership on one of the streets leading off from the main start-finish line road, together with the Ferrari Souvenir shop a little further up. Also, don't forget to see the line-up of the year's WRC drivers all together on the lawns of Casino Square on the day before the rally starts, if you arrive in time.

You don't get much snow these days on the rally, as they no longer run the classic stages in the Valence region (such as St Bonnet and Burzet). Much of the rally is therefore a tarmac event, and you have to travel some (middle of Sisteron stage) to see snow. However, it is still the rally which has the greatest aura, and being there to see new cars for the year is a great experience.

Check out below some useful links for the traveller ...

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