Saturday | 16 Jan 2021

Historic Alpine back in the Monte mountains

Cedric Robert can’t help but smile. The former Peugeot works driver knows he’s in for something special at next week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (21 - 24 January). And he’s right.

Robert is one of six drivers setting about the French Alps aboard a name synonymous with the traditional season-opener: the Alpine A110.

And it’s fitting the car should be back on the Monte 50 years on from its biggest moment in these parts, when Ove Andersson won the 1971 Rallye Monte-Carlo in an original A110.

Robert’s car is, of course, some distance from the version the Swede used to score a start-to-finish victory on one of the snowier rallies in memory.

The mid-engined, rear-wheel drive format remains, but Robert’s car comes with a turbocharger and a good bit more power than his forerunners. But the feeling is the same.

Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo preview

“The Alpine is a very good car,” said Robert. “It’s a nice car to drive, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have, it’s an easy car to drive. It’s predictable.

“And it’s so nice to come to this event with the history for the car, you can think to the names like [Jean-Pierre] Nicolas or Jean-Luc Thérier. I’m happy to take this car to Monte Carlo and to remember the history and those guys.”

Andersson’s feeling was the same about the original Alpine, talking about the balance and poise. Until it came to the snow...

At the time, Andersson said: “On the snow you really had to throw the car at the corners to get it to swing, but on the dry Tarmac it would steer incredibly well. As a driver, the Alpine was the best car for me and it was incredible for me to win the Monte in it.”

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Alpine went on to win the International Rally Championship for Makes in 1971 – a forerunner to the FIA World Rally Championship. With a further three wins at rallying’s highest level, Andersson would have gone on to be that year’s drivers’ champion if such a title had existed half a century ago.

Next week, the focus for Robert will be the FIA RGT class – but success of any kind will be celebrated by the famous blue car from France.

• Full coverage from Rallye Monte-Carlo will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.