Recce Updates McKleins Rally Tips have now been updated after our rally recce. You will be able to find the latest insights highlighted, to give you the most up-to-date overview for this rally.
There is nowhere better to start a WRC season than Monte Carlo! The unpredictable and varied weather conditions offer drivers a unique challenge, while the rally also poses some of the most complex logistics for spectators wanting a glimpse of the latest challengers. Its everything that epitomises a world rally event.
There are a few basic elements to consider when going to watch Rallye Monte Carlo. Its normally a tarmac rally and also a winter rally. Aside from its glamorous title, the Monte actually takes place in the Southern Alps. Its a frequently sunny region of Europe and on a good day it can give you the feeling of springtime in mid-winter. The rally can be any mixture of these elements and this is what gives it its special character. Everything between full snow, a rainy dull day and mild sun is possible.
One special characteristic of the stages is the parts in full shadow where the sun at this time of the year does not hit the road and burn away the snow and ice. Here the white snow is not the main challenge because the drivers can see it, instead the back ice is the problem. Black ice is difficult to see and whilst racing on dry tyres, with no studs, it is easy to loose grip and slide off.
Another character of the event is the mountain stages, which have few access roads into the stages for spectators to use. Paired with a lack of hotels in this region, many spectators do opt to use a motorhome for transport and park it in the stages. They remain locked-in to see the two passages of the day and then continue to the next lock-in place overnight, ready for the following day.
This is the very first chance to see all the brand new 2017 WRC cars in action together. Rallye Monte Carlo serves up a rather unique shakedown because it starts in late-afternoon daylight, transcending into dusk and finishing in full darkness.
The start of the shakedown stage features two tight hairpins, the first a left-hand corner which flows immediately into an uphill right. This is a great viewing location for spectators because theres plenty of space high up on the banking overlooking both of these corners. When night falls all the photographers gather here with their powerful flashguns popping like strobe lights at a rock concert. The sights and sounds make for a magical night-time atmosphere and a wonderful start for viewing the Monte Carlo rally.
For a totally different experience, walk into the shakedown stage from the finish. Here you will see the cars at full speed in an open area with a snow capped Hautes Alpes mountain background.
Food & Drink:
Being the first true test of the season for the brand new WRC cars, the crews will make more runs on the stage than normal. Expect to see them in action five or six times over three hours. Stop off at one of the patisserie/boulangerie on the main Route National N85 to stock up on sandwiches, cakes and drinks to enjoy throughout the shakedown.
A busy day in Monte Carlo precedes the flat-out action on the opening two night-time stages of the rally. Everyone has an early start to drive down to Monaco, with the rally cars being taken there on transporters. Around the famous Casino Square and in the harbour you will find a whole range of official WRC activities. In the previous two years there was a small super stage built up in the harbour for the manufacturer teams who bring a WRC test car to thrill VIP celebrity guests with maximum sideways driving, including an artificial jump. In springtime sunshine it can be a very enjoyable and informal day to get up close and personal to the stars and cars of WRC.
At 1815 the rally starts officially at Casino Square in Monaco. The crews then head off into the night to tackle two stages en route back to Gap for the overnight halt.
SS1: Entrevaux – Val De Champagne – Ubraye 21.25km
The rally kicks off in earnest with the first of two tricky night tests. Ice is the big danger here and the highest point of the stage is 1,100m at the 15km mark. There is one access road (D310), which takes you to 17.5km on the stage, but expect this road to be very busy with rally fans. It is much easier to approach the stage directly from the finish, then walk-in to find a spot with a clear view and the possibility of some frost or ice on one of the fast corners.
SS2/13: Bayons – Breziers 25.36km (Update)
This is a new version of an old classic. In the 1980s and 90s the first part of the stage ran in the opposite direction and was nicknamed Les Tourniquets because of a series of six consecutive switchback hairpins, located from 1.4km to around 3km from the stage start. A big crowd will create a fantastic atmosphere here during the night-time running of the stage (SS2), however be prepared for a long walk in to see the action. After the hairpins the stage is then very fast all the way to and from the village of Turriers, scene of some classic Monte stages in the past. There will be many spectators in this area. There are another two great locations for spectating on the stage, relatively close to each other and with a good access road coming in from the west. The first is at 11.9km where you see the cars in action for a long time. They come into view via a left hand corner over a bridge, then go straight up a slight incline before tackling a tricky junction right. 1.4km later at 12.3km you will see a long left corner in a completely open area. Further in to the stage there is easy access at 19.9km, which arrives at a tricky uphill junction left with black ice at the braking zone. 300 metres before this junction are two medium speed corners in open farmland with good unobstructed views. At the time of writing (17/01/2017) the road conditions for the whole stage was dry asphalt, except for a few occasional patches of black ice in the last five kilometres.
Food & drink:
Depending on the size of your wallet, a visit to the Café de Paris in Monte Carlos Casino Square is a must. For the ultimate luxurious experience you can sit and watch the world-go-by or even the rallys ceremonial start taking place sat in the comfort of the café.
There are three stages run twice on Friday followed by the main service in Gap. Please be aware that leaving Gap going north on the N85 and the same for the return that evening into Gap there will be long traffic jams. Smaller roads going in and out of Gap apart from the N85 are recommended to be used.
SS3/6 Agnieres En Devoluy – Le Motty 24.53km (Update)
The most remarkable thing to say about this stage is that at the time of writing (after McKleins recce on 17/01/2017) almost the entire length of this stage is covered in snow and ice. The start is quite fast and relatively straight, however at 3km the character changes as the road becomes twisty. There is a fantastic viewing location at 3.1km where the cars have to negotiate a hairpin left on full snow. To get there you must arrive early before the stage is closed and park on the small D937 road. 4km further on the stage passes through the village of Saint-Disdier, which offers many good possibilities for spectating and has good road access via the D117. The rally cars enter the village at a tight downhill hairpin left which will be very popular with spectators and quite tricky for the drivers to get right. It should be good fun. After Saint-Disdier there is very limited access for good spectating positions, however there are some stunning views over the Sautet reservoir during the last 5km of the stage, which is all downhill on a narrow road full of snow. 800m before the flying finish is a left hand corner onto a narrow bridge with a fast downhill approach. Again, this will be a real test for the drivers.
SS4/7: Aspres Les Chaillol 38.84km
This test is fast becoming a modern classic of Rallye Monte Carlo in Les Hautes Alpes. For 2017 the stage has been extended, combining the first two stages from 2016 into one. Many of the corners will feature icy patches but if there is snow to be found in this region it is most likely to be just before the village of Chaillol, which itself is a ski station at 1,600m altitude. Chaillol village has great access and you can walk uphill from the village to find vast open areas with great views over a landscape usually covered in snow.
Food & drink:
Plenty of choice for a mountain stage because the village of Chaillol does have a few restaurants, whilst the ski station itself has a hotel with a busy bar and a restaurant.
SS5/8: St Leger Les Melezes – La Batie Neuve 16.83km (Update)
From one ski station at Chaillol the next stage also leads to another called Ancelle. The stage passes through Ancelle village and then climbs uphill to the Col de Moissière, where the public road normally ends however the stage actually continues across an active ski slope, closed specially for the Monte Carlo rally passage. After the col the stage continues downhill to La Batie Neuve on a narrow road in the forest with little to see for spectators. The best location by far is the on the top of the Col de Moissière, where, quite uniquely for any WRC stage access, you can actually take a ski lift up and walk back down after the second running of the stage (SS8). You could even ski/snowboard down if you have the equipment, which you can rent in Ancelle. After making a recce of this stage McKlein can report that there is no snow on the road on top of the actual Col de Moissière itself, however there is snow on the last two kilometres of the ascent and on some corners at the beginning of the descent. Close to the start of the stage at 0.5km there is a roundabout in the village of Saint Léger Les Mélezes at which the drivers must make a complete 360° loop. There are some cafes and shops beside the roundabout and the atmosphere should be pretty good. There is good road access to this point.
Food & drink:
If you venture up the lift to the Col de Moissière then youll need to be prepared and eat/drink what you bring. Otherwise there is plenty on offer at the numerous restaurants and bars around the ski station of Ancelle.
SS9/11: Lardier Et Valenca – Oze 31.15km
This stage is about 20km shorter than last year but it did retain the best bit. You have access to the village of Barcillonette, which is not much more than a tight tarmac junction enclosed by a few very old houses. After this village the stage climbs uphill on the D20 to the Col de Esparron where you can lock yourself into the stage, if you arrive very early. Here you will find a typical Monte Carlo Rally alpine passage and have the luxury with just about nobody else around to enjoy the endless twisty stage set in a great mountain panorama. In both 2015 and 2016 north facing parts of this passage have been snow covered.
Food & drink:
You will not find anything to buy here, take what you need with you.
SS10/12: La Batie Monsaleon – Faye 16.72km
Mainly using a faster road at lower altitude with hardly ever any snow expected, this stage passes through the village of Savournon where you can have access. Also 500metres before the end of the stage there is a right hand corner, which you can access if you stay on the Gap side of the mountain range.
Food & drink:
Being close to Gap and the motorway there are the usual options found in such places.
SS2/13: Bayons – Breziers 25.36km
Daytime running of the second night stage from Thursday. This is new to McKlein and needs to checked when we know the exact route.
After one night and two days of rallying in the mountains close to Gap the whole rally moves south to restart in Monaco harbour. There are only two stages on Sunday in the Alpes Maritimes region, north of Nice. This is followed by a very traditional and formal ceremonial finish in front the Royal Palace of Monaco, where Prince Albert II is in attendance to present the winners trophy.
SS14/16: Luceram – Col St Roch 5.56km
This short test is used twice, the second run being the all-important Powerstage where the WRC drivers compete for extra points. The Col St Roche is famed for its series of tight hairpin bends, where there are plenty of great viewing opportunities from high up on the steep sloped hillside of the col.
Food & drink:
There is nothing available here.
SS15: La Bollene Vesubie – Piera Cava 21.36km
This stage passes over the most famous landmark of them all in WRC, the Col de Turini. Should you wish to be part of the Turini atmosphere you must be prepared for an early start and a long walk. Another option is to book into one of the two hotels on the col itself and spend Saturday night there. The approach to the col actually offers better action and a lot less hassle for fans, whilst the only other real possibility for spectating is to walk in from the stage start. From the start, soon after Bollene village the road enters a gorge where it is possible to have a long view of the cars tackling a series of mountain bends with a rock-face on one side and a steep drop on the other.
Food & drink:
There are a couple of small cafés in La Bollene Vesubie as well as some locals out selling baguettes and coffee. The Col de Turinis two hotels offer a full sit-down lunch service.