|The Cooper Car Company team assembled at Reims, January 2002: this was to be its first competition in 34 years|
Preparations for the Monte Carlo Historique rally are now well advanced. I finally ordered tyres and settled for Maxsport soft compound Dunlop SP replicas which should work well in the rain. The service crew will carry a set of studded Colways for snow. We plan to monitor the weather forecasts carefully and also do "recces": if there is a lot of snow on the ground or there appears to be a high liklihood of inclement weather we'll pop the Colways on at a service stop. However I don't think this will happen and I'd rather use the faster rain tyres than the ubiquitous M&S tyres (which I loathe -they are not much good in bad weather and crap in normal road conditions.) I've gambled on the rally being mostly wet with just occasional patches of ice and snow. This should be manageable, even with the Maxsport rain tyres, and we'll carry two spare Maxsports with snow chains in the car if we really get caught out. Traditionally tyres have always been a pivotal issue on the Monte and the situation will not be any different for us. Please keep all your digits crossed.
The car needs some fine detail work which Lee McNair at BRR is sorting out. Bill seems pretty happy with the engine which is something of a relief. Bill, like me, frets about minutiae so if he's content about something it's a good sign. When I arrive back in the UK on January 23 I'll go over the car with a fine toothcomb and make sure it's polished and looking beautiful for the MiniWorld photoshoot on the 24th just prior to our departure for France. I think I've now organized all parts, accessories, clothing etc. I've also booked flights, hotels, the Eurotunnel and ordered my regularity licence from the Automobile Club de Monaco. I think the only bureaucratic item that remains is insurance which I'll attend to next week. Oh and I'll have a last ditch attempt ar obtaining some sponsorship from Road & Track magazine.
I'm actually I'm very proud of being part of the Cooper Car Co team for the second time. There is a certain amount of hoopla about it in the motoring press and Peter Barker has put out a press release. I've reproduced it here:
MiniWorld Rallying/Cooper Car Co team for Monte Carlo.
MiniWorld Magazine and the Cooper Car Company are pleased to announce the entry of a five car team of Mini Coopers for the 8th Rallye Monte Carlo Historique running from Friday 28th January to Wednesday 2nd February 2005.
The team, which includes both Paul Easter, winner of the Rallye Monte Carlo with Timo Makinen in a works Mini Cooper S exactly 40 years ago, and veteran navigator Willy Cave who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first works co-drive on "the Monte" in an MG Magnette, will be starting from Reims (3 cars) and Monte Carlo (2 cars).
The 2005 MiniWorld Rallying/Cooper Car Co. team are:
Peter Collier/Paul Easter Mini Cooper S (starting from Reims)
Alain Lopes/Joseph Lambert Mini Cooper S (starting from Monte Carlo)
John Morrow/Bill Richards Mini Cooper S (starting from Reims)
Peter Barker/Willy Cave Mini Cooper (starting from Reims)
Geoff O'nion/John Lindley Mini Cooper (starting from Monte Carlo)
Following a gruelling Concentration Run of nearly 900km over Friday/Saturday night, the team will begin the timed sections high on the Ardeche Plateau early on Sunday 30th January with runs over the famous Burzet and St.Pierreville/Antraigues stages amongst others. Restarting in classification order from Vals les Bains on Monday 31st January cars will cover six further stages on the way to Monaco via an overnight halt in Gap. The final night loop out of Monaco and back, consists of three stages run without a break for 100km from the Col de Castillion, over the Col de Turini the Col de St.Roch and the Col de La Able to finish at St.Laurent du Touet. The Team should arrive back at the Finish in Monte Carlo during the early hours of Wednesday 2nd February all being well.
No Mini mounted team has ever won the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique although Mini Coopers have dominated the 1300cc class for cars built from 1962 to 1965 since the rally's inception. Perhaps the MiniWorld/Cooper Car Co. Team can pull off this feat in 2005?
Updates will be available during the rally from www.MiniWorld.co.uk and the full results of the rally plus details of all stages are shown on the Organisers website.
Exciting stuff and I feel honored not just to drive in the metaphorical (and quite possibly literal) tyre tracks of the greats like Paul Easter and Willy Cave but to be on the same team. These guys have been my heros for a long time. More soon on this topic...