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Angus Austin heads south on historic rally 2017 Monte Carlo Classique

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A fleet of immaculately prepared classic cars have begun their journey to one of the most famous destinations in motorsport.

Around 80 vehicles left the start ramp outside Paisley Abbey as the chequered flag was waved on the 2017 Monte Carlo Classique, with the town being the only British start point for the popular event.

Teams have also set off from six other European cities for the journey to the south of France in an entry of vehicles synonymous with the golden age of the famous Monte Carlo Rally.

The field includes Angus enthusiast Andrew Goodfellow and his co-driver, brother-in-law Derek Coghill.

Andrew has a stable of old cars but is braving the 1,300-mile challenge in a roofless 1930 Austin 7 Ulster 2-seater Sports, raising money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

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At the wheel of one of the cars, an MG Midget, which was 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 in 2011.

“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,” he said.

The event’s 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 takes place over eight days on open public roads with the cars and crews undertaking a series of fourteen 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 sixth overall in the hands of rally legend and Monte winner Paddy Hopkirk, and driven this year by Scottish rally enthusiasts Pat Haley and Mike Hyrons.

The Classique event is for older cars from as early as 1911 and follows the same route to Monte Carlo but does not include any test stages, the goal simply being to finish in the principality after checking in at a series of control points on the way.

Among the cars in the Ckla category are a 1960 Rover P4, affectionately named “Cuthbert”, and a Sunbeam Stiletto, built at the Linwood car plant near the Paisley start line and looking as fresh as it did when it rolled off the production line in 1968.

 

Star of the swinging 60s

Belfast boy Paddy Hopkirk became a motorsport legend with victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper S.

He and co-driver Henry Liddon started from the Russian city of Minsk, taming the tortuous Alpine stages in the red racing car 33 EJB to take the winner’s garland amidst the glamour of Monaco.

The triumph catapulted Hopkirk to celebrity status in the swinging 60s, with car and driver making an appearance on stage with Bruce Forsyth on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

Monte victory helped cement the Mini’s status as an automotive icon and the effervescent Northern Irishman went on to further motorsport successes.

He continues to be a dedicated enthusiast and safe driving campaigner, and in 2014 Mini owners from across Europe converged on Belfast for a 50th anniversary celebration of Hopkirk’s achievement.

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