In recent years Valence and, since 2014, Gap have hosted the event before the final day in the mountains above the Principality. That will change for the rally’s 90th edition in 2022 with a harbourside service in Monaco for the duration of the 20 - 23 January fixture.
It means a host of new special stages that have not been driven for many years, with 95 per cent of the route different from this year’s event, and a big emphasis on reliability with no mid-leg service during any of the four days.
Friday and Saturday’s longest legs will contain only a single tyre fitting zone between two loops of stages. Crew members alone will be allowed to work on their cars, using only tools carried in the vehicle, after they leave morning service in Monaco.
Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo 2021 heli special
After Thursday evening’s Casino Square start, the rally heads into the Alpes-Maritimes mountains for an opening ‘Col de Turini night’ in darkness that will guarantee a crackling atmosphere as fans flock to one of the WRC’s iconic locations.
Luceram – Lantosque and La Bollène-Vésubie – Moulinet, which crosses the Turini and is the longest test of the event at 23.52km, add up to 38.83km of action.
Friday is the toughest leg, with two loops of three stages next to the Mercantour National Park totalling 118.88km.
Roure – Beuil, Pierlas – Ilonse and La Tour-sur-Tinée – Saint-Jean-la-Rivière are driven morning and afternoon, with just a short pause in Puget-Théniers in between for a tyre change.
The third leg journeys further north to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence for another 94.10km of competition.
Le Fugeret – Thorame-Haute opens the day before a double loop of the new Saint-Jeannet – Malijai and the daunting Saint-Geniez – Thoard, which features the often treacherously icy climb of the Col de Fontbelle. A tyre change in Digne-les-Bains provides the only break.
Sunday’s finale features four stages in the north-west of the Alpes-Maritimes totalling 67.52km. The new La Penne – Collongues and Briançonnet – Entrevaux are repeated, with the later forming the Wolf Power Stage before the Casino Square finish ceremony.
The 17 stages cover 319.33km.