Sunday 29 January 2017

Monte Carlo Classics Head Off from Paisley UK Start

A challenging 1300-mile drive lies ahead for twenty historic cars which left Paisley last week heading for the south of France in the classic Monte Carlo Rally.

It’s the fourth time the town – which is bidding to be the 2021 UK City of Culture – was the only British start point out of seven European cities including Stockholm, Lisbon and Barcelona.

In total around eighty cars left the start ramp outside Paisley Abbey in three separate categories.

The Historique class is being run for the 20th year and is restricted to car models which competed in the Monte Carlo Rallies between 1955 and 1980. It will run over eight days on open public roads with the cars and crews having undertaken a series of fourteen demanding test stages in the mountains of southern France.

The Classique event is for older cars from as early as 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.

Once again the event also features the popular Monte Heritage Runs which will follow on from the full-scale events and will take in a series of short classic routes in Scotland.

A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 gathered in the centre of Paisley with the magnificent backdrop of the Abbey to wave off the crews in a party atmosphere with lights, music, street food and pyrotechnics…..and working with staff from Renfrewshire Council and volunteers from many motorsport clubs in Scotland the organisers say it was the biggest and best yet.

At the wheel of one of the cars, an MG Midget, which is the official opening car for the Scottish start, was Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator and the man responsible for bringing the Monte back to Scotland again in 2011. He was delighted with the turnout:
“This year’s Monte Start had all the ingredients to make it a unique mid-winter festival which lifted the spirits of all the folk from Paisley and beyond who come along each year to enjoy the wonderful carnival atmosphere.”
Well prepared for a chilly drive south was Andrew Goodfellow from Dundee and co-driver, his brother-in-law Derek Coghill and their 1930 Austin 7 Ulster open-topped 2-seater sports which will – hopefully – complete the drive to Monte Carlo.
Said Andrew: “What a fantastic opportunity this is to take part in this historic event and were both totally confident that we and the car will make it all the way. The only concern is the snow on the route through the Alps.” Their drive will raise funds for SAMH, the Scottish Association of Mental Health.

Also leaving the start ramp was 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 is being driven this time by Scottish rally enthusiasts Pat Haley and Mike Hyrons. 

Other cars taking part are a rare and original 1978 Ford Escort RS 2000 which had previously been on display in a car showroom in Wales, a 1960 Rover P4, affectionately named “Cuthbert” which spent its early life in South Africa along with a Sunbeam Stiletto, which was built nearby at the Linwood car plant and looks as good as it did when it rolled off the production line in 1968.

The event is supported by Renfrewshire Council. Provost Anne Hall said: Once again, the people of Renfrewshire supported the Monte in their numbers and the presence of the cars made it such a colourful and lively atmosphere.
“For Paisley to be joining various European capitals in hosting a start leg of this prestigious event is really raising our profile ahead of the UK City of Culture 2021 bid going in later this year.
“Once again, it was a pleasure to be able to flag the cars off and I would like to wish all the best to the drivers setting off for France tonight.”
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