Rally Monte Carlo organisers have revealed preliminary details of the route of next year’s World Rally Championship opener – and crews should be braced for an early shock to the system.
Compared to this season’s centenary edition of the event, which ran outside of the WRC schedule, the 2012 version will feature an additional 100 competitive kilometres and an extra 240 kilometres of liaison, making it the longest Rallye Monte Carlo since 1995 when Spanish legend Carlos Sainz claimed victory for Subaru.
The all-asphalt event, which returns to the WRC calendar following a three-year absence next season, will get underway with shakedown and a ceremonial start in the Champ de Mars in Valence, the capital of the Drome region of France, on Tuesday 17 January 2012.
Wednesday’s itinerary will feature two runs through the classic Le Moulinon-Antraigues and Burzet-St Martial stages in the south of the Ardeche separated by service in Valence, where the permanent service park will be housed.
Thursday’s route takes in six stages in the northern parts of the Ardeche and Haute Loire departments and includes the famous St Bonnet le Froid run.
On Friday crews will head south to Monaco via the St Jean en Royans-Font d’Urle, Cimetiere de Vassieux-Col de Gaudissart and Montauban sur Ouveze-Eygalayes stages, which will be broken up by a remote service halt.
Following a rest on Saturday morning action will resume on Saturday afternoon for the final loop of stages based in the hills above Monte Carlo, including two runs over the infamous Col de Turini.
The 80th running of the event will then conclude on the morning of Sunday 22 January with the Power Stage held between Sainte Agnes and Col de la Madone and covering a distance of approximately five kilometres. The traditional prize giving will be held on Sunday afternoon at the Place du Palais.
In a statement, the event organisers, Automobile Club de Monaco, said: “The ACM general commissioner’s office has worked out a concept which remains faithful to the reputation of the winter road rally, so that competitors, manufacturers and spectators can rediscover the elements that forged the legend of the Monte Carlo Rally, allowing amateurs to compete with professionals.
“With a total of 17 stages, including 433 kilometres timed and 1246 kilometres connecting roads, this Monte Carlo Rally is certain to uphold the long tradition of a highly challenging course, requiring great endurance on the part of drivers and vehicles alike.”