History of the Turini

2005 : What did the Turini become ?

42 years that it is one of most famous Monte Carlo stages and that it sees the greatest legends of the rally - putting each time on their road many abstacles -, the Turini became a myth of the World Rally CHampionship. Under snow, by night, in the cold, this stage was run under the worst conditions. Joy and despair, triumph and failure, the pilots who climbed it knew all, and thus was born this legend. Today, the Turini has lost some of its beauty, partly because of the disappearance of the "Night of Turini", for the last time at the program of this rally in 1997, but that is sure that Sospel-La Bollène remains a layout dreaded per many drivers, where each turn is a trap, each hairpin an apprehension and each kilometer run a relief. It is there that men became heroes and that others lost all. A badly negotiated turn, a plate of snow at exit of a turn, a tunnel too quickly arrived, Turini took in its nets many victims and it will be thus surely during still a long time. You can here (re)live the fabulous destiny of an exceptional stage which in 42 years of emotion and adrenalin attracted each other a popularity but more especially a large respect.

1962, the Monte Carlo Rally course changes : the classifications established on the average, comfort and the regularity leave their place to timed stages, and Turini, already with the program of the rally, writes the first lines of its beautiful history.

In 1965, the race on the Monaco F1 circuit disappears and is replaced by one whole night of rally on the roads narrow and sinuous from the back country, the "Night of Turini" is born. There are 6 stages which awaits the competitors, including 3 passages at the top of the Turini. Timo Makinen will gain 5 of them and all passages of Turini. He is the first hero of this famous stage. It is also the beginning of the reign of the Minis, which will dominate the rally until the Alpine, Lancia Fulvia and Porsche comes to fight them.

Then arrives 1968 and the first drama of the Turini. When the drivers spring for the last night, the Alpine are at the head and the roads are dry, everyone is serene in the French camp. But stupid spectators havethrew snow at the exit of a turn without visibility. One should not any more to remove any hope with Gerard Larrousse who slips and runs up against violently a rock. The faulty spectators will denounce them the following day but the evil is already made, Larrousse lost the rally and Turini obtains a bad reputation which will not leave it any more. As of this event, the eye related to the Turini will be never again the same one and this stage will become a hell for many crews. The stake also is seen some increased and this monument of the last night will be often the place of intense fights between the head drivers.

In 1973, the battle is terrible between Andruet and Andersson. The Swedish nibbles the advance which has the Frenchw kilometer after kilometer, and leads to his paroxysm the tension and the suspense of this ultimate night. It is as better as he could that Andersson begins this "Night of Turini" by pulverizing the record of the Col de la Madone with 40 seconds. The pressure is enormous on the shoulders of Andruet who dangerously sees returning its adversary. Then there is the fourth stage of this complementary course, the second rise of the Turini : the Alpine driver bursts and offers the first place to Andersson. There are 2min25 which flies away and which makes Andruet retrogress at the third place, 1min05 behind the new leader. His moral is the lowest but he is not resigned therefore to the abandonment, largely motivated by his faithful copilot "Biche". Fortunately, the chance is with him in the following stage : Andersson types and bursts for its turn, letting 40 seconds. Andruet, more justified than ever, seizes the occasion and leaves the big attack in the last stage to go up the 20 seconds to be filled. Andersson is ready to republish his performance of the beginning in La Madone, what he perfectly made, but Andruet is on another planet and is 22 seconds faster than the Swedish, the victory is gained and the Turini enters in this sport history for ever. What a better manner to open the World Championship which begins this same year ?!

Six years later, for the first drivers championship, the Turini again makes speak about him, for a scandal which will remain a long time engraved in the memories : Waldegård very sereinement approaches the last night, 6 minutes in front of Darniche, but he meets two large stones laid out on the Turini by spectators as much stupid than unconscious. Result : Darniche signs a phenomenal time and gains the rally 6 seconds in front of Swedish.

The years pass and the Turini continues to crown champions. Rohrl, Blomqvist, Toivonen, Andruet, Mouton, Darniche, Biasion, Auriol, Sainz, all won there. But oddly, the years pass and no major incident occurs on the roads of the col. 1991 should be waited until, because as a volcano the Turini never sleeps a long time. This year, a very young driver impresses while seizing the head at the expense of Sainz, already two times world champion, he is called François Delecour and drive a Ford Sierra. The stages pass and the French firmly holds the head... until the Turini arrives. Three passages are with the program this year, first passed without encumbers, the second also and the victory is profiled, but the third one is too much : Delecour is awaited by everyone at the arrival when it is learned that the Ford driver arrives at the idle. The car arrives finally and its driver leaves while crying, not understanding how one of its wheels could leave without having touch anything. Comforted on arrival by Saby, he will be avenged in 1994 while winning the rally, one year after the strange Toyota event of 1993 when Celica signed supernatural times : in the Turini, they take one second per kilometer on the Ford ! That will make run much ink and Toyota will be marked (precisely or not, one will never know oneself) of cheating, which checked in 1996 when the team was excluded from the championship.

1997 is a significant date in the history of this stage since it is this year that was traversed for the last time the "Night of Turini". Turini will be still run by night until 2002 but it will not be during the complementary last night.

Some exits of road and bounces will mark the years which followed, where one saw Colin McRae leaving in 2001 and Marko Märtin typing in 2003 letting the three Citroen Xsara sign a splendid triplet, but anything of such as mentioned above.

2005 should be waited until to revive a new drama on the Turini. At the time of the first passage on this stage, the roads are almost dry, only the accesses of the col are covered with snow, and all the crews spring with racing tires. The rise on the side of La Bollène is done without encumbers, the descent is devastating : 3 driverslip on a plate of snow 500m after the Col de Turini : Solberg is the first, he arrives quickly on this light turning towards the line, types a low wall of snow inside and cannot slow down on this plate, he finishes in the guardrail, a wheel in less, abandonment ; behind him, Marcus Grönholm is also made trap, he negotiates the turn badly, leaves in slips on this same plate of snow and loses also a wheel, he does not give up, finishes the stage on three wheels but concedes more than 5 minutes like its second place at the overall, he will finish the rally at the fifth rank ; finally, it is Cecchettini, a junior, who is the third victim of this turn. One did not have a long time so that the polemic is born and quickly the spectators having thrown this snow on the road (definitely, that seems to be a tradition) were shown right, rightly it is true, but one should not either not hastened to forget that the drivers also have their share of responsibility since having arrived and inevitably too quickly not having listened to attentively the notes of their copilot ("extra slippy ice" was written on those of Mills the copilot of Solberg). The proof is that Loeb, as a great champion who he is, arrived at 30km/h at this place ! This sad event did not fail to make re-appear the many debates of this stage.

Assessment :

Today, whereas the past of this special stage is fabulous, its future seems a little in danger because of the rules that the FIA adopts years after years, killing this sport gradually. It is thus the hour to make an assessment of the Turini. Firstly, it is undeniable that the Turini became a monument of the rally, an irreplaceable part of the Rally of Monte Carlo since its first editions. Misfortunes, exploits, a popularity except pars and an environment of madness on the slopes of the Col de Turini, such are the elements which did of the Turini what it became ! About its popularity precisely, the assessment is less amusing : since the "Night of Turini" disappeared, the fans are less and less numerous to come on this stage and in particular behind the barriers of the col. Why ? Firstly because of the FIA which obliges the ACM to concentrate the course in the 06 by imposing the behaviour of an unique park of assistance : blow, it was necessary to find stages around Monaco what stopped the accesses. Secondly, the fact that this sport become more and more professional and politicized makes it less accessible to much, environment reigning at the edge of the roads is not more the same one, the passion dropped and especially the drivers ensure more, hurried by sponsors who tolerate only the victory and who give no place to the show. In front of that, the ACM tries to concentrate the spectators who go there around the col, with for main method to prevent them to "being locked up" in the stage by closing it the day before at 18h and while making there grind intransigent police force. Result : the Turini is empty ! By wathing ten years ago, when thousands of fans cme to the Col de Turini midnight, we ask us : who would have believed that the Monte Carlo would become thus ? Can we still benefit from the spectacle while being controlled at this point ? At the rhythm that the things go, soon this rally will be paying (like are already those of Finland, England, Germany or Sardinia) and the course will approach more and more the F1 ! One just must hope that the ACM will react... but that made fear ! Let us return to the Turini and its history. As regards the layout, "Moulinet-La Bollène" has largely dominated : since its begginings, it is between these two villages that this stage was run, and it is only into 1999 that Sospel-La Bollène replaced it. Except that, it had some editions which passed by Lucéram or Peira Cava but only fews. Lastly, and to finish on a more positive point, one can be satisfied that in spite of the disease which the rally in this moment knows, the Turini remains well anchored in the WRC and always holds beautiful bounces. Will the Turini still make us vibrate a long time ? The future will say it to us... while waiting, cross the fingers...

Article written in 2005.