The Siberian cold snap that swept Europe at the end of January brought heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures to much of the Monte Carlo Historic Rally route, resulting in many damaged cars and almost 100 retirements.
After the rally ended in Monaco’s parc forme, the top three finishers were, first overall, the Opel Kadeff GTE of Jose Lareppe and Joseph Lambert, winners in 2010 too, with Jean-Pierre Coppola and Olivier Sussot second in their Alpine-Renault A310, and the Porsche 911 SC of Monty Karlan and Valter Jensen third.
The winning Belgians started from Reims and were in contention for a podium throughout, “We had to push hard on the final stages out of Monte Carlo,” said Lambert. True enough, on Col de Turini the orange Opel swished this way and that with demonstrably more gusto than many.
While Porsche, Alfa, Lancia, BMW and Citroen were the most prolific makes, a quartet of Gaz Volga M21s vied with a Trabant and Moskvich as the most unusual Monte model, while the strongest performance came from the tiny Steyr-Puch 650 TR2 that placed fifth.
While not epic, owing to fewer stages in the Haute Alpes, this year’s Monte Carlo Historic lived up to its reputation as the toughest winter rally.