Following the barely melted tyre tracks of mid-January’s WRC event, the ACO’s Monte Carlo Rallye Historique used most of the same stages a few days later to test the mettle of historic cars and their crews.
This year Mini Cooper was ‘featured model’ with 27 entered, recalling the Hopkirk/Liddon success of 1964, though an Opel would top the prize list. The relatively low attrition rate (of 309 starters, 257 finished) was down to mechanical breakdowns and navigational errors rather than accidents. Though the Scandinavian long-haul entries had snow to cope with on the concentration leg down to Die in the Vercors, the mild winter had seen off the white stuff in the Ardèche (where blizzards are normal in January). Not so the Vercors, where the dramatic Col de l’Echarasson served up thick snow, allowing the experts to showcase their opposite-locking abilities.
Turini didn’t look good, swathed in frozen slush, but it didn’t upset Oslo starters Bjorn Aaserud and Lasse Hansen in their 911 2.7S, using just one set of studded tyres the entire rally. “Slush is never good,” said Bjorn. “It’s usually about zero degrees C, when there’s the least amount of control you can have. Even ice with a layer of snow on top is better for traction.” They finished a creditable 17th overall, while Norwegian team-mates Petter Granerud/Stein Roed (911SC) came second.
Covering the classic gamut from 1950 to the 1980 cut-off, the entry included Alfa Giulias, Lancia Fulvias, BMW 2002s, Porsches, Volvo Amazons, Alpine-Renault A110s and DS Citroëns, with assorted oddballs such as the DKW 1000S, Simca Aronde, Autobianchi 1200R Abarth and Vaz to shuffle the pack, while French aces such as Jean Ragnotti stuck with faithful R8 Gordinis. But, yet again, José Lareppe/David Lieven played the consistency card to win in their Opel Kadett. Jonny Tipler