This year celebrates the 101st Birthday of the Monte Carlo Rally, making it the longest, continually run rally in the world with the exception of two world wars.
The event was opened in 1911 by Prince Albert I and organised by the ‘Automobile Club de Monaco’ who now also organise the Monaco Grand Prix. Since its grand beginnings the world famous stages have seen many famous cars come and go. The Monte Carlo Rally was often seen as a bench mark for good cars to reach with the winners receiving not only credibility but exceptional publicity too.
In the 60s it was the turn of the Mini to take to the forefront of the Motoring world, clocking up 4 wins and several class wins, although not without controversy as in the 1966 event all three Minis of Hopkirk, Aaltonen and Makinen were disqualified after claiming every step on the podium. Perhaps the biggest controversy in the history of the Monte Carlo Rally. The miss-justice was avenged however with the Mini taking the win the following year. With this period of heavy success the Mini became synonymous with the Monte Carlo Rally and will always be remembered for being the David that beat Goliath in those cold, icy conditions.
The Monte Carlo Historique is also run by the ‘Automobile Club de Monaco’ and allows the classic cars from the famous past to revisit the grand event and compete once more. The event is running from the 28th January to the 4th February 2012 and this year there is a five Mini team at the hands of the Brits named ‘Equipe Mini’, joining several Mini teams from around Europe to celebrate the 101st Anniversary. The team comprises the experience of competitors Willy Cave and Bill Richards along with several other determined individuals, of which include Peter Barker.
Peter Barker will be driving with Willy Cave in the event and start from Reims (There are now 5 start points to choose from, all of which are the same distance from the Monaco finish). His old but dependable Austin Mini 7 will be making the voyage and with plenty of Mini Sport parts on board, including from our Paddy Hopkirk Range– Brake Calipers, Discs and Gear Knob. You may remember the Austin Mini Seven competing in the Rally des Alpes when we updated you on their progress. This should hopefully provide them with a good warm up to the Monte Carlo Historique.
The past few years have seen the Minis compete well, reaching as high as 2nd place, with the help of some extreme, wintery weather conditions. With a bit of luck there is hope that the team can achieve a great performance and make sure the Mini maintains its long running romance with the Monte Carlo Rally.
You can follow their progress here on our Blog or even in specialist Mini Magazines.