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Classics rev up for Monte Carlo rally

Published 25 January 2017

Eighty classics will be flagged away from Scotland later today as the historic Monte Carlo Rally gets underway. The cars will leave from Paisley at 6pm on Wednesday, 25 January. It’s the fourth time the large town has been used as a British start point for the 1300-mile trip to the south of France.

Three classes of cars take part in the event. The Historique class is restricted to models that competed in the Monte Carlo Rallies between 1955 and 1980. It will take place over eight days on open public roads with the cars and crews undertaking a series of 14 demanding test stages in the mountains of southern France.

Included in the line-up will be an ex-BMC works Mini Cooper S which competed in the Monte Carlo Rally 50 years ago, finishing 6th overall in the hands of rally legend Paddy Hopkirk. It will be driven by Scottish rally enthusiasts Pat Haley and Mike Hyrons. Also taking part will be a rare and original 1978 Ford Escort RS 2000 which had previously been on display in a car showroom in Wales.

The Classique event is for cars from 1911 to 1980 and follows the same route to Monte Carlo but does not include any test stages, the goal simply being to finish in Monte Carlo after checking in at a series of control points on the way. Among the cars in this category are a 1930 Austin 7 Ulster open two-seater sports, a 1960 Rover P4, and a 1968 Sunbeam Stiletto, which was built nearby at the Linwood car plant.

Monte Carlo (2) (1)

Last year a crowd of more than 10,000 people gathered in the centre of Paisley to wave off the crews in a party atmosphere with lights, music, street food and pyrotechnics. Final preparations are now being completed and Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator (and the man responsible for bringing the Monte back to Scotland in 2011) believes this year will be the best yet.

Anderson said, ‘This year’s Monte start has all the ingredients to make it a unique mid-winter festival which is guaranteed to lift the spirits of all the folk from Paisley and beyond who come along each year to enjoy the wonderful carnival atmosphere.’

Anderson will also be doing the trip to the Mediterranean in his MG Midget which will run ahead of the group as the official opening car. He joined some of the entrants who’ll be heading off on Burns Night as they proudly posed with their cars in the shadow of a statue of the Bard in Paisley’s Fountain Gardens. 

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