Winter Marathon 2024, Bellini-Tiberti Win the 36th Edition on Fiat 508 C

Third victory for the young crew, who outperformed their competitors by a wide margin; the podium is completed by two other Fiat 508 C from 1938 with Barcella/Ghidotti in second place and Salvinelli/Costa in third.

The young team from Franciacorta Motori, on the same Fiat 508 C from 1937 with which they won in 2021 and 2022, maintained their lead in the race after the first stage on Thursday and triumphed in the night at Madonna di Campiglio, where they crossed the finish line at Piazza Righi with a considerable lead over their immediate pursuers, both on Fiat 508 C from 1938: Guido Barcella and Ombretta Ghidotti, last year’s winners, who, after a difficult first stage, climbed from seventh to second place, and Fabio Salvinelli and Andrea Costa, who finished in third place after being in second place for a long time.

The organizers are satisfied with the overall progress of the race, which ended without any issues or accidents with the help of service personnel along the entire route and characterized by extreme cold, reaching as low as -15°C on the Sella and Gardena passes, as always along with the Pordoi pass among the most appreciated and photographed points.

In first place among entirely foreign crews are the Englishmen Edoardo Ottochian and George Drayson on an Austin Mini Cooper S Mk I from 1960, while among the Teams, success went to Franciacorta Motori, followed, in order, by Brescia Corse and Emmebi 70. The top spot in the under 30 crew ranking belongs to the Barcella-Rossoni crew, sixth overall on a Porsche 356 C Coupe from 1963, while the first female crew is formed by Laura Bandera and Chiara Guindani on a Lancia Fulvia Coupe 1.3 S from 1971. The first crew in the special Media Test ranking is composed of the Sardinian crew Virdis-Giordo on a Porsche 356 Coupe from 1954.

Text and Photos: Winter Marathon Website

My First Rallye Monte Carlo Historique 2020

My Monte Carlo adventure began just a few days before the start of the Gran Premio Nuvolari 2019. My phone rang, and on the screen appeared the name of the vice president of my former racing team. I answered, expecting a conversation about the upcoming Gran Premio Nuvolari; however, he asked if I would like to navigate for Alexia Giugni in the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique 2020. Of course, I immediately said yes, unable to believe my luck. With Gaetana Angino (my driver for the classic regularity races in 2019), we had secured the national victory in the Italian Championship with a few races to spare. We were about to compete in the Gran Premio Nuvolari, and now this opportunity came along, one I never thought would materialize, and with one of my favorite cars: the 1971 blue Renault Alpine A110. I hit the jackpot!!!

I tried to stay rational; the Gran Premio Nuvolari was around the corner, and I didn’t want to miss the goal of winning the female category with Gaetana, who truly deserved it. So, maximum concentration was needed, and the goal was achieved: we raised the cup to the sky!!!

It was time to focus on the rally I had heard so much about but knew so little about since it was a specialty unfamiliar to me: THE AVERAGE SPEED. And so, I began studying the instrument that would support me in this specialty. Alexia and I decided to participate in a race to experience firsthand how such a race unfolded. One week before the Big Race scheduled for November 8, 2019, we started the reconnaissance with a modern car. I was desperate; I felt terrible during the reconnaissance, which lasted only one day, knowing full well that for Monte Carlo, it would last at least 4 days. I didn’t know what to do, and I confessed my discomfort to Alexia only much later, and especially after finding a solution that allowed me to read and write without feeling like my stomach was an enemy to be slain (I didn’t want to miss this opportunity for any reason in the world, and besides, it’s sacrilege to know that a navigator suffers from motion sickness, what a shame it would be after all the kind words Marco Gandino had said about me?).

The solution came, and the reconnaissance went very well; I didn’t even feel a hint of discomfort.

And now, the fun began: creating, elaborating, and adjusting the Road book with all the information because what the ACM (Automobile Club de Monaco) calls a road book is nothing more than a list of roads and kilometers that are difficult to read during the race.

The days were marked by everyday life, with the fixed thought of having to watch the videos that Maurizio Aiolfi had shot during his reconnaissance, translating the numbers taken during our reconnaissance, and all this data went into increasing the road book. I spent entire weeks working until 2 in the morning, terrified of not being able to finish in time to print everything. Instead, on the Monday before the start, I managed to take the files to the copy shop and have them printed… we were leaving on Friday!

Thursday, January 30th, was the fateful day; I left the office and began my journey to Milan, where on Friday, January 31st, at 18:40, I would begin this splendid adventure!

And so, we set off, passing through Piazza Duomo, where the starting ramp was set up—a unique emotion, with crowds eagerly awaiting the passage of the cars, which, like a caravan spaced one minute apart, were preparing to face this marathon called Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.

The first checkpoint awaits us in Sestriere; our arrival is ahead of schedule, and the camper provided by the team replenishes us with food and coffee, allowing us to relax for a moment and even catch a wink of sleep. The marshals arrive, and after a quick check-in, we’re off again. Another checkpoint in Chambery, and we head towards Bourgoin Jallieu, where the first time control awaits us.

Now it’s February 1st, it’s 8:53 after 14 hours and 13 minutes of almost continuous driving, and we’re heading towards Buis les Baronie, another time control marked for 13:33. Here, we have 30 minutes available for the installation of the instrument that will be both a help (the official time displayed) and a nightmare (continuous monitoring of adherence to the route and speed limits 24/7).

We set off again at 14:03 to face the first two special stages… I expected to be exhausted, tired, and nervous at this point, but it’s not the case—I’m calm and fresh, ready to tackle the first two special stages of 43 km and then 15 km.

The last two time controls, and at 19:28, we arrive at the end of the first day in Valence, after 25 hours of driving and 1,050 km covered, ranking 38th overall. We’re thrilled!!!

Day 2 – February 2nd, we restart at 10:20 am—four special stages totaling 154.675 km for a total of 382 km covered, and after 10 hours and 30 minutes, we return to Valance at 8:50 pm, with the bitterness of the first two stages going terribly without understanding the reason. We slide to 100th place. Alexia is furious; she refuses to lose in this way and doesn’t even want to take a bite to eat. She returns to the hotel to devise a strategy for the following day to try to claw back some positions.

Day 3 – February 3rd, we restart at 10:06 am—four special stages totaling 86.207 km for a total of 479 km covered, and after 11 hours and 20 minutes, we return to Valance at 9:26 pm, now determined to simply enjoy ourselves on the special stages. Despite this mindset, we still manage to claw back 20 positions and climb to 80th place. But it’s not over; adrenaline is always lurking, reshuffling the deck. There’s no time to relax. Upon arriving at the hotel, we discover that the ACM has modified the route due to a landslide, also altering the start of a stage, throwing off all the references we had taken during the reconnaissance… there’s a new road book to study that has been provided to us… PANIC! But Alexia is experienced; she’s now in her 10th edition and armed with a laptop and Google Maps, we study the entire new route, and off we go, ready for whatever comes our way.

Day 4 – February 4th, we restart at 8:59 am—we leave Valance and head towards the final stage, finally reaching the Principality of Monaco, Monte Carlo. But first, we face another 3 special stages totaling 56.500 km for a total of 442 km, and after 9 hours and 15 minutes, we arrive at the time control in La Turbie, at the gates of the City of Monte Carlo. But there are still the last 10 km and 35 minutes to cover… we encounter a traffic light that seems purposely designed to test my nerves and my heart. Minutes pass, the time control approaches, and we remain stuck in line, waiting… I want to scream at Alexia to overtake them all in line, skip the traffic light, and fly towards the time control, but I say nothing. I remember that we have the Tripy in the car, the infernal device that monitors our every move; the specter of being assigned 10,000 penalties doesn’t sit well with me. Besides, we’re on the doorstep of the principality, which has more cameras than inhabitants, and the gendarmerie is omnipresent. So, I remain still and mentally count the minutes and seconds that will determine the penalty for our lateness. In all the years I’ve been racing, I’ve never missed a time control. Is it possible that I’m about to experience the biggest setback for a navigator at the Rallye Monte Carlo??? PERISH THE THOUGHT!!! Alexia reads my mind, and finally, we pass the cursed traffic light. I navigate her, we overtake two competitors in the roundabout on two wheels, we race through a tunnel, brushing past a bus, and the little Alpine comes out on top. Right turn, and off we go, racing towards the orange-coated marshals. Our minute has already started, and with the horn blaring, we leap onto the arrival platform, and I eject myself out of the cockpit, catapulting myself onto the commissioners’ table 10 seconds before our scheduled time… WE DID IT!!! We made the time control on time, but the adrenaline and tension make my hands and legs tremble… but there’s no time for distractions. It’s 6:49 pm; we’re 71st overall, and we only have 3 hours to grab a bite to eat, take a shower, and review the videos to tackle the last two special stages, which seem to be the most fun but also the most challenging, including the Col de Turini.

At 10:43 pm, we restart, the last 150 km and the last two special stages of 70 km. Col de Braus and Col de Turini, a unique thrill, an infinity of hairpin turns. I discard the references taken during reconnaissance to call the curves and hairpin turns as I see them: right turn, left turn, double right, triple left, straight… we climb the switchbacks where, despite the late hour, many people are camped out with bonfires, cheering us on at every turn, and the strategically positioned car lights provide the best visibility of the turns. The emotion is indescribable, and Alexia’s driving is that of a true rally driver, sweeping through the curves.

The end has come; we finish the last special stage. I would like to go back and do it again… but it’s not possible. It’s the dead of night, and we have the last time control at 4:08 am… We arrive at the end of this adventure, the platform at the port of Monte Carlo welcomes us for the last time, and the crowd applauds as each competitor arrives. Our teammates, mechanical support, and moral support await us with a bottle to celebrate… my heart and head are filled with emotions unlike any other, indescribable, wonderful. They cannot be explained, only lived, and I have experienced them to the fullest with a highly respectable driver and a team of special people behind us who have taken care of every detail.

We conclude our adventure in 37th place overall, second among Italian crews, second among female crews, and the first crew from our team.

Total distance covered: 2,500 km

Special stage distance: 430 km

Total driving time: 61 hours and 55 minutes

Cristina Biagi x Promotor Classic Magazine

A Few Days Until the Start of the 36th Edition of the Winter Marathon

120 teams will be starting one of the winter classics.

The countdown has begun for the start of the 36th edition of the Winter Marathon 2024, the traditional and longest-running winter regularity rally scheduled from Thursday, January 18th in Madonna di Campiglio.

An unmissable adventure spanning over 520 kilometers through the most beautiful roads of Trentino Alto Adige and the most fascinating Dolomite passes, where teams will face 65 timed trials and 9 average speed trials for a total of 16 hours of driving across 15 mountain passes.

The 2024 edition boasts the participation of 18 automotive brands from 10 different countries, featuring 15 pre-war cars and 13 Top drivers ready to battle for victory.

For the Scuderia Promotor Classic, two teams will take part in the race: Gianmario Fontanella with the No. 8 on the reliable Lancia Aprilia, and Giovanni Pighi aboard a Morris Mini Cooper S MK II with No. 20.

Photo Credits: Winter Marathon

Nicolò Mazzini x Promotor Classic Magazine

RALLYE MONTECARLO HISTORIQUE: HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE RACE?

The Rallye Montecarlo Historique is a one-of-a-kind race, let’s see why and how to prepare for it.

It all starts in August, when registration opens and the “pre-regulation” comes out in which the indications and registration methods are provided, i.e. the programme, the cities of departure, the cars that could be admitted, the necessary documents of the car and crews, the tools that can be used and some regulatory indications on the conduct of the race (e.g. respect for speed limits, respect for the environment, etc.) as well as an indication of the registration cost which this year is €5,200.00 which includes, in addition to registration with the assignment of race numbers and gadgets, the welcome buffet in Monte Carlo on the first evening with 3 nights’ accommodation and the gala dinner which takes place inside the Sporting Club From here the real preparation begins, mainly of the car which must be able to face 7 days of racing with approximately 3,000 km on asphalt roads but with very different environments. Here, the choice of tires necessary to tackle various surfaces including snow, ice and the dreaded verglas (sudden and barely visible sheets of ice) is also very important. So in addition to the thermal tires (mandatory in the winter period also in France for normal road circulation) it is good to think about also having a set of studded tires to deal with any slippery surfaces, to be changed before tackling the special stage based on the indications provided by the scouts.

In this period it is also a good idea to start thinking about the logistics for overnight stays not included in the registration fee: the race in fact includes 3 stage finishes in the city of Valance.

The wait ends in mid-November, when the registration acceptance confirmations begin to arrive and you must choose (at whatever time you did not do so during the registration phase) the team you belong to. But what does a team do for its crews? Each team has its own RMCH management policy: managing official communications, managing logistics (hotel reservations, shuttle for transporting luggage and crews from the final CO to the hotel, etc.), providing scouts who they will cover the special stages before the crews and will give indications on the road conditions so that each crew can choose the best set-up to face it; provide service crews with mechanics ready for checks, car tune-ups, tire changes and necessary repairs; furthermore, it could provide the clothing necessary to face the race and last but not least, form the purchasing group for the roadbook. In fact, ACM does not provide a roadbook, but simply a list of roads and km:

Here some professionals come into play who are responsible for translating this list into a real roadbook with even more detailed vignettes and intermediate distances, to help the crews in the race.

At this point the crews are ready to also face the reconnaissance: that is, going to see and possibly “measure” the special tests. In fact, in the first days of the year, many crews travel the Rally roads to take references to use during the race, to “recalibrate” the instrument. A fundamental measurement is “Etalonnage” i.e. that stretch of road which, traveling along the roadside at a low speed, will give the reference measurement to calibrate the instrument and to measure the tests (it is easier to do this than to describe it…)

Lastly, it is essential to foresee alternative routes when the crew has assistance following them: in fact, the assistance vans cannot, for any reason, enter the special tests, under penalty of exclusion from the race of the reference crew.

I have described to you in broad terms how to prepare to face one of the most iconic races, which boasts a history of over 90 years, with the historical version now in its 26th edition.

See you soon with more background, details and interviews with those who race, those who assist and those who, behind the scenes, in silence and without appearing, ensure that the crews face the race in peace.

Cristina Biagi x Promotor Classic MAGAZINE

The three Italian stables protagonists of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique compared for Promotor Classic Magazine

The crews are busy with preparations and fine-tuning the cars with assistance and alternative routes; let’s see how the Italian stables are getting ready.

We reached Dr. Antonio Di Martino, president of Scuderia Milano Autostoriche:

What do you think about the return of the start from Milan compared to Turin?

We worked hard and well to bring the start of this race back to our city, and we are proud to have succeeded. Turin hosted us in a unique and spectacular location, but Milan is our city.

The numbers are lower compared to last year when you had 25 crews divided into 3 teams, while this year you have only 2 teams with 18 crews… what caused this decrease in participants?

As you wrote in your previous article, last year there were issues with strict penalty application and timing anomalies. It’s understandable that there was some disenchantment with this race.

So, what are the goals for this year?

Among our ranks, there are missing some important names who historically participated in many editions of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique like Fontanella, De Angelis, Seno, etc., who are committed to other objectives (Gabriele Seno will be one of our scouts, for example…). They, along with all the others, have contributed to raising the name of Milano Autostoriche (winning the team cup 6 times in a row). However, I have a lot of faith in our crews and expect a good result without too many expectations and pressures.

Marianna Ambrogi, sports director of Scuderia del Grifone, talks about the difficulty of dealing with the sudden departure of President Gianni Chiesa, which left the entire regularity world astonished. Gianni, in his first participation in the Monegasque race, reached the third step of the podium together with his sister Tiziana.

Many well-known names, regulars of the race, are missing from the registration: Gandino, Keller, Bonamini, Tenconi, Liberatore, Mosconi, along with experienced navigators Ricci, Manzini, and yourself. What caused this absence?

The initial idea was not to participate in this edition of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique. Gianni’s absence is felt every day, but I have to follow the will of each individual member/friend. Therefore, we followed the will of the 7 crews who wanted to form the team (the seventh crew joined recently); it’s a race that is close to our hearts, and starting from next year, we expect to have a considerable number of crews. The prominent names you mentioned, along with myself, will be engaged in other projects.

What do you think about the return of the start from Milan compared to Turin?

It was a suggestive and exciting start. Turin welcomed us last year with an incredible crowd in the wonderful Piazza San Carlo, but we are also happy to return to Milan, which always welcomes us with enthusiasm. It wouldn’t be bad to alternate between the two cities every other year.

What are the goals for this year?

We are primarily a group of friends who enjoy spending time together. It’s crucial in our adventures to stay in the same hotels to have as many convivial moments as possible. We only become competitive when we get behind the wheel. We know we have strong crews that can perform well, but Monte Carlo is a long and unpredictable race that unfolds over a vast territory, where weather conditions can also make a difference. Our aim is to have fun and do our best, but any result will be fine as long as we enjoy the journey.

President of Scuderia Mirabella Mille Miglia, Dr. Luigi Zampaglione, answers our questions:

Scuderia Mirabella Mille Miglia has registered 5 teams this year, what can you tell us about it?

Five teams are an important milestone even for a lively Scuderia like ours. It’s Italy’s second most historic team after Scuderia Ferrari, with a past even in F1. In this edition, we also have a team debuting in this specialty (team 238 Cisotto, note).

We are preparing seriously, as one should when deciding to venture into competitions like this. We prepare as a group, sharing information and advice with those approaching the race now, and sharing feelings. We have a team debuting not only in this race but especially in this specialty. Together, motivation and fun increase!

What do you think about the return of the start from Milan compared to Turin?

Milan is more central and closer to Brescia (the team’s headquarters). However, Turin has more historical significance; cars from major teams participating in the race used to start from there, and it’s also closer to Monte Carlo. All in all, the locations are equivalent. Alternating is fine, but we are happy to have returned to starting from Milan.

What do you expect from this Monte Carlo?

We expect a lot of commitment, a lot of fun, great enthusiasm, and maybe some small hiccups, but we want to start and finish as five! The overall ranking interests us only partially; it will primarily be a competition among us.

Good luck to all the teams in the race, especially to the three Italian stables!

We will run alongside them to bring you their emotions on our pages, updating you daily.

Cristina Biagi x Promotor Classic MAGAZINE

RALLYE MONTECARLO HISTORIQUE: EVERYTHING READY FOR THE 2024 EDITION… let’s run the numbers!

With the release of the itineraries we enter the heart of this race, which has been awaited since August when registration opens where the crews begin to think about setting up the car.

DEPARTURE FROM MILAN. The 2024 edition is characterized by the renewed departure from Milan after having given way for the 2023 edition in Turin. This year the first car to leave will be from the city of Glasgow with 6 leaving in the morning at 8.30am on January 31st; On February 1st the 19 cars will also leave from Bad Hombourg at 2 pm, followed by Milan at 6 pm with the largest departure. 137 crews and the last 82 cars will set off from Milan at 7pm from Reims; then they will all concentrate in the principality of Monaco, in the splendid setting of Porto Hercules. The arrival of the first car is scheduled for around 3.30pm on Friday 2 February for the installation of the Tripy (the GPS device for checking average speeds, editor’s note), for a bit of well-deserved rest in parc fermé until next day waiting for the start.

The First Step. The crews will start on Saturday 3 February at 7am and will tackle a total of 470km of route with the first 4 special stages for a total of 70km timed. On February 4th, another 309 km of race with 4 special stages (100 km timed); on February 5, 351 km with 4 tests (68 km time trial). Final stage on February 6th of 416 km with 3 tests (60 km timed) and grand finale on the last night where they will battle on the two last special tests, the 16 Sospel – Col de Turini (19.774 km) and the 17 La Cabanette – Col de Braus (13,811 km) for a total of approximately 120 km of stage.

There will be 244 crews starting with 198 cars on high average and 46 on low average; Only 1 female crew will start from Milan with the number 100: Barbara Hemmerle Gollust and Isabelle Godin with their 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV.

The most represented nations: obviously they are the French with 103 crews, followed by 33 Italians, 15 from Great Britain, 11 Germans, 10 Swiss, 7 Norwegians, 7 Greeks, 6 crews represented respectively by Danish Belgians Spanish Polish, this year also 4 Ukrainian crews.

Milano Autostoriche: this is the largest Italian team which registers 18 crews; the other Italian teams are Grifone which boasts the registration of 6 crews and 5 from Scuderia Mirabella Mille Miglia.

Numbers down compared to 2023, an edition characterized by controversy regarding the extreme security measures implemented by the organization; many crews were penalized up to and including exclusion for having exceeded the speed limits by a few kilometers per hour when crossing some urban centres. Furthermore, again in 2023 the cancellation of one of the legendary snowy special tests certainly did not help: a bit of a contradiction considering that the Rallye Montecarlo Historique is considered epic for special tests with extreme conditions where the driver is called upon to bring out the his driving skills on very different surfaces, including ice and snow.

Positive note, it’s the news we’re not used to: the measurements of the special tests are finally all certain; no number has been omitted by imposing advanced mathematical calculations…

What will we see in this XXVI edition of the Rallye Montecarlo Historique?

We will be together with all the crews to update you daily!

Cristina Biagi x Promotor Classic MAGAZINE

Photo credits: Nicolò Mazzini