XXVI Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique


Ten days after Thierry Neuville’s triumph in the WRC, Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo clinch victory in the historic Rallye Monte-Carlo. Driving a 1979 Opel Ascona 400, they lead from start to finish, showcasing exceptional rally expertise.

Ten days after Thierry Neuville’s success in the WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo, another Belgian team achieved victory in the historic version. At the end of the final stage, held on Tuesday afternoon and shortened to one stage due to fog, Michel Decremer and his co-driver Jennifer Hugo secured victory behind the wheel of a 1979 Opel Ascona 400. Leading since Saturday and consistent throughout the event, this was a prestigious win for these rally regularity specialists.

Everything came together to make this 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique a great success, from the perfect weather to the quality of organization by the Automobile Club de Monaco, from the warm welcome by locals in all the cities and towns along the route to the high level of the 233 crews who set off from all corners of Europe. In the end, it all boiled down to a magnificent winning duo, the Belgians Michel Decremer and Jennifer Hugo, with a 1979 Opel Ascona 400, who led the race from Saturday afternoon until midnight on Tuesday without interruption.

Michel Decremer, who had already won here in 2017 with an Opel Ascona 2000, and his co-driver, in their second rally together, didn’t falter: no ranking below 55th (among over 200 competitors), no more than 60 penalty points accumulated in any of the 16 Regularity Stages (SR) held over four days. A great finish on the Col de Turini just before midnight.

This is the second victory for a Belgian duo in 15 days in a Rallye Monte-Carlo, since Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe won in the WRC at the end of January with their Hyundai i20. The final podium looks very impressive, with two Italian teams also putting in great efforts: Giorgio Schon and Francesco Giammarino, leading from start to finish with their Austin Mini Cooper S, and Maurizio Aiolfi and Carlo Merenda, who won two stages in their magnificent Lancia Beta Coupé 1800.

Looking at the numbers from this 26th edition, two stand out: firstly, the presence of 9 different car brands in the top 10 of the final official general classification, published at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday by the ACM. Secondly, the fact that 10 car manufacturers won at least one SR, sometimes tied with another brand. In detail, Porsche eventually beat Lancia (6-5), while Austin (3 wins), Sunbeam, and BMW (2 each) also prevailed, with the rest of the laurels shared among Mazda, Alfa Romeo (18 cars at the start), Citroën, Volkswagen, and of course Opel, the winning brand this year.

For fans of old-school statistics, here’s another: Germany, with 10 SR wins (for four brands, Porsche, BMW, Opel, and VW), beat Italy (only 6, of which 5 were for Lancia and one for Alfa), and Belgium succeeds Switzerland on the winners’ list, as Claudio Enz and Cristina Seeberger won last year with a Lancia Fulvia.

The winning duo has reason to be proud: the only time an Opel triumphed in a Rallye Monte-Carlo was in 1982 in an Ascona, with the great Walter Röhrl at the wheel, assisted by the faithful Christian Geistdorfer.

As a prelude to the departure of the remaining 213 competitors for the Turini night, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco took the opportunity to pay a vibrant tribute to his father, H.S.H. Prince Rainier III, and his passion for beautiful cars. It was a vibrant tribute because at 8 p.m., the audience at Quai Albert 1er heard the roar of the engine of a rare Deutsch-Bonnet (DB) Frua, restored for the occasion. And Prince Albert II was at the wheel for a full lap of the Monaco Circuit.

Undoubtedly, it has been a long and challenging test for both the teams and the organizers, but the support of the local population throughout the route has been reassuring, in all the departments crossed, from Ardèche to Drôme, from Isère to the Hautes-Alpes, from the Haute-Loire to the Alpes de Haute-Provence, with Alpes Maritimes ending on a high note, in the great tradition of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, at the mythical Col de Turini.

The 26th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique attracted a large crowd everywhere and reassured all fans of old-school motorsport, vintage race cars, and charming, accessible drivers, always full of anecdotes and good stories. It was a great harvest, so we look forward to an even better rally in 2025!

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