The unofficial Monte Carlo Grand Prix has been cancelled.
The unofficial Monte Carlo Grand Prix is, of course, the annual Thursday morning dash from Gap to the principality for the start of the World Rally Championship season. And the start of the Monte Carlo Rally.
The 2021 WRC will begin from the car park of a leisure centre in Gap instead of the slightly more glamorous location of Monaco’s Casino Square.
But, let’s face it, who cares? Casino Square’s nice, fabulous in fact, but it’s about who makes it back to Monte Carlo on Sunday afternoon, not who makes it out of there.
In an effort to bring the Monte into line with the other rounds of the world championship, shakedown shifts from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning (previously Thursday morning was taken up with the decision of whether to rip down the A51 via Sisteron, turn left at Aix and them hammer along France’s south coast or enjoy the Route Napoleon fever through such famous places as Entrevaux and Puget-Théniers).
One thing which hasn’t changed is Thursday night’s two stages to kick-start the season in dramatic fashion, high in the French Alps. Running out of Gap, the brace of Hautes-Alpes tests are both new in a route which is 85% changed from this year’s event.
Friday is three more new tests (repeated in the afternoon) out west of Gap, while Saturday starts the traditional route south after a couple of shots at the St Clément – Freissinières tests (sandwiching St Apollinaire – Embrun).
After a final service and a fond farewell to Gap, the drivers will face La Bréole – Selonnet on the way into Monaco.
Saturday afternoon will, as usual, be the last time the teams will see the cars to work on them. Sunday morning offers a tire zone only, where the crews will take the typically tough choice of rubber to get them through a final morning will which include the usual two runs over the stunning Col de Turini.
Monte Carlo timetable
Thursday January 21
Shakedown 2.08 miles
SS1 St Disdier – Corps (12.78 miles) 19:08
SS2 St Maurice – St Bonnet (12.94 miles) 20:06
Service Gap 21:01
Friday January 22
SS3 Aspremont – La Bâtie-des-Fonts 1 (12.25 miles) 08:36
SS4 Chalancon – Gumiane 1 (13.47 miles) 09:54
SS5 Montauban-sur-l’Ouvèze – Villebois-les-Pins 1 (13.94 miles) 11:27
Service Gap 12:57
SS6 Aspremont – La Bâtie-des-Fonts 2 (12.25 miles) 14:58
SS7 Chalancon – Gumiane 2 (13.47 miles) 16:16
SS8 Montauban-sur-l’Ouvèze – Villebois-les-Pins 2 (13.94 miles) 17:59
Service Gap 19:29
Saturday January 23
SS9 St Clément – Freissinières 1 (12.85 miles) 10:38
SS10 St Apollinaire – Embrun (13.31 miles) 12:15
SS11 St Clément – Freissinières 2 (12.85 miles) 14:08
Service Gap 15:28
SS12 La Bréole – Selonnet (11.41 miles) 18:09
Parc Fermé Monaco 22:09
Sunday January 24
SS13 La Maīris – Moulinet 1 (10.37 miles) 08:42
SS14 Col St-Jean – Col de l’Orme 1 (8.14 miles) 09:38
SS15 La Maīris – Moulinet 2 (10.37 miles) 10:38
Regroup Sospel 11:23
SS16 Col St-Jean – Col de l’Orme 2 (8.14 miles) 12:18
Finish Monaco 13:43