• Short Summary

    Heavy snow throughout the French Alps was greeted with relief in Monaco at the start of the famous Monte Carlo rally on Saturday (17 January).

  • Description

    Heavy snow throughout the French Alps was greeted with relief in Monaco at the start of the famous Monte Carlo rally on Saturday (17 January).

    The 4,800 kilometre (3,000 mile) rally, still considered the toughest winter event in the world, loses a lot of drama without snow. The snow fall almost eliminated controversy over a new speed section on the wide road leading up to the soaring Lautaret Pass in the Alps.

    Italian ace, Sandro Munari had said cars would be travelling very fast on a clear road and said the section would be "far too dangerous". Other leading rally drivers supported Munari, and the Finn, Hanny Mikkola, said the section would have no sporting interest without snow.

    Munari, with Lancia team-mate Bjorn Waldegaard of Sweden, will be among the leading favourites in one of the strongest fields for some years.

    This year, 150 cars started the race from Warsaw, Paris, London, Almeria, Rome, Copenhagen and Frankfurt on Saturday night. Lanica, Ford, Opel, Fiat and Autobianchi have powerful works teams entered, but Renault is not officially represented.

    Fifteen cars were unable to start because of last minute mechanical problems.

    SYNOPSIS: Drivers from many parts of Europe gathered in the German city of Frankfurt on Saturday night at one of the seven starting points for this year's Monte Carlo rally. But it looks as though it will be a disappointing race.

    This year, the four thousand eight hundred kilometre race will lose much of its attraction because of a lack of snow. Some snow had fallen in the French Alps, but not enough. The stretch is normally one of the most spectacular parts of the route but officials don't hold out much hope for it this year. In fact, drivers have called the lack of snow dangerous because of the high speeds which could now be reached.

    This year's field is one of the strongest for many races, and it is the forty-fourth time the Monte Carlo rally has been staged. Cars left from Paris, Warsaw, London, Almeria, Rome and Copenhagen as well as Frankfurt.

    Fifteen cars had to pull out at the start because of last minute mechanical difficulties.

    One of the first off was this Volkswagen Golf, driven by Fritz Lochmann of West Germany.

    He was followed by car number seventy nine, a Porsche Carrera, driven by Pierre Bos.

    One of the Japanese entries was this Toyota Celica driven by Heinz Gellert.

    One official termed the first stage of the race as a boring day and only four cars had dropped out. Strong field teams have been entered by Lancia, Ford, Opel, Fiat and Autobianchi, Renault is not represented in this rally. It finishes in Monte Carlo on Friday.

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