Since 1978 the Monza Rally has been a popular end of season destination for many rally stars. This year’s edition sees over a hundred teams come to the north Italian race track, challenged by the beautiful circuit of Monza.
On Friday afternoon, as the first stage gets under way, the weather looks to be in the spectators favour: the sun is shining, as it will for the rest of the weekend. The conditions are toughened by the competition on track, with national and international stars like Thierry Neuville, Paolo Andreucci, Piero Longhi, Valentino Rossi, Tony Cairoli and Tonio Liuzzi showing up.
Held on both the modern track and the historic oval, the rally counts nine special stages and a final, separate from the special stages, Master Show.
Immediately at home on the Monza grounds, motocross superstar Cairoli takes the lead in his Citroën DS3 after the first stage, closely followed by Ford Fiesta racer Alessandro Perico and Hyundai’s World Rally Championship talent Thierry Neuville.
Rossi and Neuville quickly strike back, pushing their way to the front in the second stage. With the succession of trails, however, Rossi’s Michelin tyres prove to be the better compound for the paved track, scoring five stage wins.
Cairoli, who started out so strong, is on his way to finish the rally in second place when a puncture ends his rally in sight of the finish.
The Italian’s retirement hands second place to Neuville, who sees Rossi take the top step of the podium and Roberto Brivio with his navigating brother Davide Brivio in third.
Closing off the rally is the Masters Show, the grand finale held on the front stretch of the circuit, made up of hairpin bends pushing the skills of each driver.
After a series of knock-out rounds, Cairoli and Neuville line up next to each other for the final heat. Three rounds will decide the winner of the Masters Show. At every crossing of the line the difference between the two cars is very slight. When the chequers flies, Tony Cairoli beats Thierry Neuville by a whisker, showcasing the eight-time motocross world champion ability to handle the might of WRC’s heroes.