Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monte Carlo Historique Rallye 2008: Encore

Willy and MD
Co-driving legend, Willy Cave (L) and Mad Dog discuss the results and how we can improve our times next year

After our return to Monaco we decompressed a little. It was hard to believe that the excitement was over so abruptly. We organised a new steering rack and headlight to be sent to the hotel by express courier (thanks Stevie) and then made merry. For the first night in a week I had a decent night's sleep although I did feel pangs of disappointment about not being able to attack the Col de Turini.

The following day most of the crews congregated at Parc Ferme on the Quai Albert, where we drank coffee and exchanged war stories. Legendary co-driver, Willy Cave, treated many of the UK teams to a splendid lunch and wine was consumed. Willy is now 81 and his appetite for rallying and life in general is undiminished. How many octagenarians do you know that in addition to pursuing high level motorsport also go snowboarding and have won a BAFTA? A true renaissance man and a model for us all. Pleasant conversations continued and the contrast of the Mediterranean sun to the past week's harsh weather was profound. I was starting to unwind -a process which takes quite a long time. The event has now been over for just over a month and I'm only now having dreams which do not involve rallying. The aftertaste is really delicious: like a good wine it lingers on...

This was a brutal year. Apart from ourselves, other well known Mk1 Minis went out including Barker/Cave (carb problems) O’Nion/Wilkinson (coil) and the Belgian ladies champions Castellane/Schamp (withdrew after ZR2). Of the cars in Parc Ferme at the end of the event, probably 40-50% had picked up some kind of ding. Michel Ferry, President of the ACM, said in his speech at the Gala that it was “car fricassée”. He wasn’t wrong. The pictures below tell the story:

977 ARX on trailer
Peter Barker and Willy Cave abandoned the rally after ZR8 when they suffered carburettor problems on 977 ARX

Dinged MG
Mangled MGB GT

Dinged Opel
Smashed SAAB

Dinged Porsche
Pranged Porsche

Dinged Merc
Maimed Mercedes -this is going to be expensive to fix!

Dinged Alfa
Askew Alfa Romeo

We are now planning next year and will make a determined effort to complete the event -hopefully high up in the running order. Overall we were pleased with our performance despite the DNF result: we mixed it up with some of the best rally crews on the planet, including several former MC winners, and for much of the time we were ahead of them. But as the old saying goes, “to finish first, first you have to finish”!

Postscript: On the day after the festivities (Friday), Bill, Jim and company drove back to Selonnet where the Mini was garaged, hammered out the dented wing and fitted the new headlamp and steering rack. While this was going on I took myself off to the University of Marseilles for a business meeting. Jim & Juliette then departed for Italy for a few days well-deserved R&R while Stefan headed to Luxembourg. Bill, Griffy and I had one last night in Monaco and then drove back north in the direction of Dunkirk. On Saturday we caught the ferry according to our original plan. PRX 720B was dropped off at Bill's workshop and Griffy chauffered me to the airport. The following week I think we all had trouble adjusting to the daily routine. Roll on 2009...!

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