Monte reverts to Monaco start

Monaco’s glamorous Casino Square will host the start of next year’s FIA World Rally Championship as Rallye Monte-Carlo (23 - 26 January) returns to the Principality for its opening ceremony.

This year’s fixture started in Gap for the first time in several years. But the biggest change of a revamped itinerary, in which 25 per cent of the route is different, means the famous casino will again provide a spectacular backdrop to launch the season.

After a late afternoon start, competitors head north for two tough speed tests in darkness. The opener from Malijai to Puimichel, near Digne-les-Bains, has not been used since 1994, while the special stage between Bayons and Bréziers is more familiar.

After overnighting in Gap, Friday is the most intense leg with more than a third of the total competitive distance tackled in three repeated tests south-east and east of the town.

Familiar roads in Curbans - Venterol, a variation of a test driven this year, and Avançon - Notre-Dame-du-Laus sandwich the new St Clément - Freissinières stage before a second night halt in Gap.

Saturday bring two loops of the well-known tests between Saint-Léger-les-Mélèzes and La Bâtie-Neuve, and La Bréole to Selonnet before the final service and the long journey south to Monaco for the last overnight break.

Sunday’s finale is unchanged from 2019. Two passes of two stages in the Alpes-Maritimes mountains above Monaco feature the legendary crossing of the Col Turini in La Bollène-Vésubie - Peira-Cava, followed by La Cabanette - Col de Braus.

The latter will form the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points for the top five finishers, ahead of the podium in Monaco. The 16 stages cover 305.47km. View the itinerary here.

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