The Monte Carlo Rally or Rally Monte Carlo (officially Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo) is a rallying event organised each year by the Automobile Club de Monaco which also organises the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. The rally takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France. From its inception in 1911 by Prince Albert I, this rally, under difficult and demanding conditions, was an important means of testing the latest improvements and innovations to automobiles. Winning the rally gave the car a great deal of credibility and publicity.
The 1966 event was the most controversial in the history of the Rally. The first four finishers, driving three Mini-Coopers, Timo Mäkinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk, and Roger Clark's 4th-placed Ford Cortina "were excluded for having iodine vapour, single filament bulbs in their standard headlamps instead of double-filament dipping bulbs." This elevated Pauli Toivonen (Citroën ID) into first place overall. Rosemary Smith (Hillman Imp) was also disqualified from sixth place, after winning the Coupe des Dames, the ladies' class. In all, ten cars were disqualified. The controversy that followed damaged the credibility of the event. The headline in Motor Sport: "The Monte Carlo Fiasco."
From 1973 to 2008 the rally was held in January as the first event of the FIA World Rally Championship, but since 2009 it has been the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) programme. As recently as 1991, competitors were able to choose their starting points from approximately five venues roughly equidistant from Monte Carlo (one of Monaco's administrative areas) itself. With often varying conditions at each starting point (typically comprising dry tarmac, wet tarmac, snow, and ice, sometimes all in a single stage of the rally), this placed a big emphasis on tyre choices, as a driver has to balance the need for grip on ice and snow with the need for grip on dry tarmac. For the driver, this is often a difficult choice as the tyres that work well on snow and ice normally perform badly on dry tarmac.
The Automobile Club de Monaco confirmed on 19 July 2010 that the 79th Monte-Carlo Rally would form the opening round of the new Intercontinental Rally Challenge season. To mark the centenary event, the Automobile Club de Monaco has also confirmed that Glasgow, Barcelona, Warsaw and Marrakesh have been selected as start points for the rally.