The bells from the Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo were on a hiding to nothing. The churches along the southern side of Turin’s Piazza San Carlo were no match for six cylinders sourced from a Dino.
There’s nothing quite like the sound of a Ferrari firing up in this part of the world. But there’s really nothing like it when it’s snuggled up just ahead of the rear wheels of a Lancia Stratos.
Andrea Adamo is lost in the moment.
Similar scenes are being played out from Oslo to the north, through London, Bad Hamburg and Rheims. Sébastien Ogier might have already won the Monte, but now it’s time for the nostalgia. Now it’s the turn of the Monte Carlo Historic.
Standing in one of his favorite places in a city he calls home, Adamo is almost emotional.
“It really means a lot,” he said. “To see the people back here, back in the center of this city just to watch rally cars is so important.
“This is something I always said: bring the cars to the people and the people will come. You know, I have friends in this city who know nothing of the job I did or the sport I worked in, but they are coming here – they understand this is something special and they will come to watch.”
And it really is something special. Alongside the Stratos, there’s a Fulvia with a Mini Cooper S splitting a Porsche 911 and Bruno Saby’s Ford Capri.
“It’s been busy like this from the morning,” added Adamo. “The Automobile Club of Turin has done a really good job – scrutineering earlier and now this show. Mamma mia, look at the people. I say it again: bring the cars and the people will come. They are here. So many again.”
To the uninitiated, this makes very little sense. The Monte Carlo Rally starts in Monaco, surely? Yes and no.
Up until 1997, the concentration run was very much a part of the event. In total, 80 cities ranging from Umeå in the north to Tunisia in the south; St Petersburg to the east and Lisbon far out west hosted the start ceremony to the world’s most prestigious rally back in the day. It was a way of spreading the word, of brightening the spotlight that shone on the principality which sits in the shadows of the French Alps.
By the end of the nineties, the WRC was done with the idea. World Rally Cars had heralded the start of a rocketship era with active transmissions, electro-hydraulic this, that and the other. Running the cars thousands of miles across the continent was uneconomic and apparently unnecessary.
I have friends in this city who know nothing of the job I did or the sport I worked in, but they are coming hereAndrea Adamo
It’s still very much a thing for the Historique. And the event is so much the better for it.
Enthralled Torinese gazed at an epic collection of cars which was almost enough to keep them from their early evening spritz at the tables of Caffe Torino.
“For us here, cars leaving from Turin was big,” said Adamo. “But the Lancias were also going from Sestriere. And, do you remember, Rome. They went from Rome sometimes – when Walter [Röhrl] was winning the 1983 Monte with 037, it had Rome on the side. The cars always carried the name of their departure city. It was nice.”
Ceremony done, the Italian contingent joined forces with a 278-strong entry all headed for Monte Carlo and a Saturday morning start. After selectives across the likes of Briançonnet, the crews will rest their heads in Valence, running around the Ardeche on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night’s the classic – the leg which takes crews right back in time. Starting out of Monaco at 9pm, there’s Col de Braus and, of course, an event-closing dash from La Bolléne-Vesubie to Moulinet which, naturally, includes the legend that is the Col de Turini.
After that, all roads lead back to Monaco for the finish at 1:20am Wednesday.
That, my friends, is a route and a rally.
If you’re in the area, head for the hills – they’ll be alive with our kind of music from here until the middle of next week.