The special stages over the famous Col de Turini make an inseparable part of the Rallye Monte Carlo. Francois Delecour, who has made it up the Turini perhaps the most times of all rally drivers, will tell you what the pitfalls of the legendary pass are and what has made the Turini such an important part of rally history. We drove through the different parts of Turini in the Scala Monte Carlo.
You have had so many starts on Monte that we probably won't find anyone who has more experience with the hills in the Provençal Alps. How has the Rallye Monte-Carlo changed over time?
The Rallye Monte-Carlo has changed completely over the years. In our time the rally had 800-900 kilometres of stages, today it only has something like 300 kilometres. It's a sprint from the first to the last kilometre. The rally is also more concentrated in one region. Apart from the last stages, we rarely did a stage twice in the past, and this year we even drove the Col de Turini three times. It's not the old Monte anymore. But I can't say it's either better or worse now. It's just a completely different rally.
The most iconic stage of this rally is undoubtedly the already mentioned Col de Turini. What makes it so special?
The Col de Turini is certainly not the most beautiful stage of the rally, but it really is the most legendary. Turini simply belongs inseparably to the Rallye Monte-Carlo. The magic of this stage comes mainly from the things that have happened here. Jean-Luc Thérier had to withdraw because of the snow that the spectators had brought along on the track. Jean-Claude Andruet's pursuit of Ove Andresson was also great. I myself was once robbed of the overall rally victory by Turini. That time I was leading by more than 40 seconds at the start of the last stage, but I ended up third, suffering a major loss. It's just a magical place. I remember snowball fights between the French and Italian spectators. Of course, I mustn't forget the famous Hotel des 3 Vallées at the top of the pass. Turini is simply the symbol of the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The Col de Turini can be driven up in three different directions - from Sospel, Luceram (via Peira Cava) and from La Bollène-Vésubie. How do they differ?
It doesn't matter to me where we start from. It's important to get to the top of the Turini and then get back down to the finish. Both the descents to Sospel and Luceram are great. The top passage between the Turini car park and the village of Peira Cava is also interesting. It's very fast there and often completely covered in snow due to the high altitude.
Which of these routes or sections is your favourite?
I like the combination of starting from La Bollène-Vésubie and going to Sospel via Turini. That's the real Col de Turini stage, in my opinion.
Which, on the other hand, is the trickiest or the most challenging one?
The most challenging passage is the ride down the hill to Sospel. It can be very tricky here, as the slope is north-facing, and the road is usually icy with chunks of ice.
You drove all kinds of rally cars on the Col de Turini, which one is your favourite?
I like to remember the Peugeot 306 Maxi. I hit something with it once during Monte on one of the previous stages, got clocked, but then I drove the best time on the Turini. The whole pass was completely dry at the time and I beat all the WRC cars with this front wheel drive.
At this year's Rallye Monte-Carlo, you won all three stages Col de Turini on your first start with the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Did you feel comfortable behind the wheel of the new Fabia rally car?
To be honest, I felt great in the new Fabia RS Rally2 right from the start. The car is just built to be easy to drive. Then, of course, you have to push it to its limits, but it handles great on the road, the chassis is excellent, and although the regulations for engines in the WRC2 are quite strict, the one in the Fabia has plenty of torque. What really impressed me, though, was how well the Fabia handles on the road and what brakes and dampers it has.
What were the Fabia's strengths on the Col de Turini?
The Fabia RS Rally2 is a very agile car that always has plenty of traction on the Col de Turini. There aren't many places where you can take a break, but it definitely helps that the car has the wheels on the road all the time; it doesn't bounce off so it's extremely efficient in the corners.
Can you compare it with other cars you have driven here?
Not really, because the progress this car has made in terms of chassis is enormous. Previous generations of cars certainly didn't hold up as well on the road as the new Fabia RS Rally2.
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