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Title of Greatest Rally Driver of All Time with a Record 10 Monte Carlo Wins? We are about to Find Out!

The Monte Carlo Rally is too successful. Everybody wants to compete in it. And even with the stringent qualification criteria over 100 racers with their navigators dare to apply and over 90 get through the eye of the needle and warrant a starting place. But Monte Carlo has to whittle it down further to 70. 

It’s a real shame but the constraint is… you wouldn’t have guessed it… lack of a sufficiently giant car park! 

The Organizer’s lament: “Eventually, we will be able to find an area of more than 30,000 sqm to increase the capacity of the service park and thus give us the opportunity to accept all entries, both professional and amateur alike.”

But the car park will definitely accommodate the Toyota Team. So 2023 winner Sébastien Ogier will be there to put his title back on the line. The nine-time winner of the Monegasque road event is one of the three drivers lined up by Toyota Gazoo Racing for the opening round of the World Rally Championship. The Frenchman, accompanied by Vincent Landais in the car, will face fierce competition in his bid to claim a tenth win in the Principality. Ogier didn’t have it all his own way in the past. Loeb was always there to test his mettle. 

And while it was Sebastien Loeb who notably won the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally, becoming the oldest driver to win a WRC race… Ogier had that race win also in his sights. 

There was only one man faster than Loeb through the opening loop of those two stages of that 2022 Monte Carlo Rally thriller: Sébastien Ogier… had to be, didn’t it?

The classic finale

With two stages of the rally to go, Ogier had a lead of 24.6s. The champagne was making its way towards the ice. This one was as good as in the bag. That was until the Pirelli PZero tyre on the front-left of the Frenchman’s car was emptied of air.

Loeb, catapulted back into the lead again, would start the final test with 9.5s in hand. The fairy tale was back on.

In just over eight and a half minutes it was delivered. Monaco’s harbour was rocked by the cheer that went up as Loeb crossed the line.

Ogier and Toyota in contrast were stunned. But Ogier came back in 2023 in his quest to prove he owns the reputation of being Monte Carlo’s best. 

The Biggest Winners of the Monte Carlo Rally

Sébastien Ogier won the Monegasque title for the ninth time in 2023. A record. This puts the eight-time world champion ahead of Sébastien Loeb, who won his eighth Rallye de Monte-Carlo at the age of 47.

So who can stop Ogier in 2024? Elfyn Evans, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak are some of the other heavyweights who will all be at the start of this rally.

However, double reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä, who announced at the end of last year that he wanted to take part in a partial programme in 2024, as Sébastien Ogier has been doing for three seasons now, will not be present. 

Place du Casino January 25th

The start of the 92nd Monte Carlo Rally will be given on January 25th from the Place du Casino. Then the 70 competitors head for Gap, once again host of the service park. 17 special stages are on the programme for this 2024 edition, totalling 338km of timed sections.

A Little History

The word ‘rally’ comes from the French word ‘rallier’ – to gather or congregate.

Two men are today considered to have that distinction be the creators of the Monte Carlo Rally with the enthusiastic support of Prince Albert I. They were Gabriel Vialon and Antony Noghes. Yes it’s that name Noghes again also famous for his role in creating the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.

But you would be surprised in what form the Rally originally took shape. It is a miracle it survived!

It was conceived as “Concentration Rally” where talented car enthusiasts would converge on Monte Carlo from cities all over Europe and beyond.

That and how it scored the winner almost sunk it in the first year. A certain captain Von Esmach, a German, was much aggrieved, having thought he had won this first Monte Carlo Rally. His “quasi-win” was over-turned in favour of French driver Henry Rougier who won via a point-scoring system capable of confusing Einstein.

There has always been a tussle between the founding concept of a “Concentration Rally” from European cities including places as far apart as Minsk, Warsaw and Glasgow versus rally drivers winning breathtaking stages together with a race-ending thriller over mountain passes at the footsteps of Monaco.

The Concentration Run was still going in the 80s, but the racing thriller had to win out. The search for snow and varied terrain also takes “the thriller” to the high Alps usually involving Gap and Valence to encompass 14 mountain passes to navigate along 17 special stages across five French departments.

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