Why the Monte Carlo rally is special

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It might now be the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), but watching the 200+bhp rally cars take on the twisty Col de Turini stage is magical. Surely, the Monte Carlo rally can lay claim to being the most iconic event when it celebrates its centenary later this January?

The event was first run in 1911, when HSH Prince Albert I decided the Principality should be part of the rapidly growing automotive scene and steal tourism from neighbouring coastal resorts of Nice and St Tropez. Originally devised by Gabriel Vialon of what would become the Automobile Club de Monaco, the idea was that competitors would converge on Monte Carlo from distant towns and cities.


Just 23 drivers entered the first event and seven of those failed to make it to Monte Carlo. Starting cities included Berlin, Brussels, Geneva or Vienna and all competitors could choose their own routes as long as they passed through controls situated through the country. It wasn't necessarily the first car across the line that won either as there were several other factors including the total distance driven, the condition of the car at the finish and the number of people in the car.

Frenchman Henri Rougier won in the end with the fastest average speed of 22.4mph over 634 miles, this seems totally inconsistent considering he apparently ignored the other factors mentioned above!