Alpine celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Monte-Carlo victory in style
Fifty years after opening the FIA World Rally Championship record books, Alpine was again centre-stage on the Monte-Carlo Rally.
Five Alpine A110 Rallys entered the crown jewel round of the world rally calendar.
After Manu Guigou and Alexandre Coria in 2021 and Raphaël Astier and Frédéric Vauclare in 2022, Loïc Panagiotis and Caroline Goddi gave the A-arrowed brand its third consecutive success in the Principality.
Famous and feared for its changing conditions, sometimes combined in a single special stage, the Monte-Carlo Rally has witnessed Alpine forge much of its legend. Two years after its triumphant return to the event, the brand relied on five crews to defend its colours for the half-century anniversary of the Berlinettes' historic treble in the opening round of the World Rally Championship in 1973.
Following the start ceremony at Monaco’s Casino Square, the competitors took on the legendary Col de Turini on Thursday. In an exceptional atmosphere despite sub-zero temperatures, Loïc Panagiotis took the initiative in both the R-GT and 2WD categories and finished an evening cut short by the cancellation of SS2 with a 32.3s lead over Grégory Fontalba.
On roads near the Mercantour National Park, Loïc Panagiotis proved unstoppable and continued his momentum by winning Friday's six stages. 2022 Alpine Elf Rally Trophy winner Grégory Fontalba, on the other hand, was caught out by a puncture that led to an off on SS4. Loïc Panagiotis then inherited a healthy advantage, while David Ferraro and Eric Royère were within 3.4 seconds of each other after swapping positions three times.
On Saturday, the second full day of action without midday service saw Loïc Panagiotis extend his domination in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, whereas Richard Frau rolled. Back in action after his exit the day before, Grégory Fontalba took away any hope of a grand slam from Loïc Panagiotis, with the best time on Le Fugeret - Thorame-Haute before the leader resumed his series of stage wins.
Loïc Panagiotis's solid lead allowed him to control his pace while adding another scratch time to his tally on Sunday. The 30-year-old Frenchman sealed his first win on his first appearance in the World Rally Championship scene and gave the Alpine A110 Rally its third consecutive win in both 2WD and R-GT classes on the Monte-Carlo Rally. Thirtieth in the general classification, he even finished ahead of several four-wheel drive Rally2s.
David Ferraro won three of the four Sunday stages to equal Eric Royère and win the position with his number of best times on a podium monopolised by the Chazel Technologie Course crews. Although they didn't score any points in the WRC Masters Cup, both men could also have claimed a top-five finish in the class. Grégory Fontalba was the final Alpine finisher in his first start on the world stage.
Alpine's 2023 sporting season is off to a perfect start thanks to these performances that were as successful and reliable as always, with no mechanical issues reported on any of the five cars produced by Signatech. Once again this year, the Alpine A110 Rally cars will be in action in the hands of private competitors in France and across Europe, starting with the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy crews beginning their campaign at the Rhône-Charbonnières Rally (20-22 April).
Louis Chazel, Chazel Technologie Course Team Manager
"This win in the two-wheel drive class and this 1-2-3 in the R-GT category are tremendously pleasing. They reward the work put in by the team and our crews. It was an atypical Rallye Monte-Carlo, with dry roads putting more demands on the mechanics. Well done to Loïc, with whom we had done everything possible to be the sharpest at the start, thanks to our participation in the Var and Dévoluy rallies to prepare for all conditions. We also saw a great battle between David and Eric, two experienced drivers who were both new to the Alpine. They went head to head and finished with the same time. Beyond the result, I would like to praise their attitude, especially as they had a great time with their new car. To have three of our crews on the podium gives us the feeling of accomplishing our mission. We are lucky to be able to run this incredible car, the Alpine A110 Rally. It has proven itself across Europe thanks to the work of Alpine and Signatech. We are already looking forward to the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy and possibly other rounds of the World Rally Championship!”
2022 Monte-Carlo Rally R-GT Category
1. Loïc Panagiotis – Caroline Goddi (Alpine A110 Rally) 3h32:57.4s
2. David Ferraro – Michel Corneglio (Alpine A110 Rally) +7:31.7s
3. Éric Royère – Gilbert Dini (Alpine A110 Rally) +7:31.7s
4. Grégory Fontalba – Stéphan Hermet (Alpine A110 Rally) +57:22.3s
Ret. Richard Frau – Stéphane Marquez (Alpine A110 Rally)