UMG Monte 16 13 Dumfries

After leaving Paisley we had a short night time run to Dumfries where we made our first overnight stop. The Historique guys had no such luxury heading straight down the motorway to a distant Dover. A good selection of the Classique cars can been seen in this shot getting ready to leave Dumfries.Behind my Swedish co driver Per Jonsson (in his fetching yellow coat) is the Dutch Derby Bentley 3.5 litre of Robert van Rheenan. Behind him is the rapid little Austin A35 of Fiona and Richard Lamotte. On the right Ian Glass and Nick Ward fettle “The Tortoise”, Ian’s Ford Popular.

UMG Monte 16 14 Croft Dad

From Dumfries the route took us over the border into Cumbria and then over the Pennines to Croft Motor Circuit near Darlington. There I had a pleasant surprise, my father having driven down from Northumberland to see how we were getting on.

UMG Monte Carlo Rally 2016 - Croft Circuit 5

Here we are leaving the pits for a few laps of the circuit

UMG Monte 16 Croft 2 on track

I believe this was the first time that UMG 662 had been on a motor circuit since it raced at Silverstone in the 1953 Daily Express Production Touring Car race (3rd in class!).

UMG Monte Carlo Rally 2016 - Croft Circuit 2

Coming down the pit straight with a Standard in pursuit.

UMG 662 Silverstone 1953

The last time UMG 662 was on track – The Daily Express Production Touring Car Race, Silverstone 1953

UMG Monte 16 16 M25 Dartford

Some unwelcome news at Croft was that the ferry we were due to take overnight from Hull to Zeebrugge had been cancelled. Alternative arrangements were put in place but entailed a long slog down the A1 to Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel. Unfortunately we arrived on the M25 at rush hour with traffic over the Dartford Crossing held up by high winds. We ended up sitting in traffic for over an hour. Much to our relief UMG 662 did not over heat.

UMG Monte 16 17 Chunnel

Since leaving Croft we had not seen any of the other rally cars. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find ourselves behind the splendid Ford Zodiac of Terry Mower and Nick Green for the short Chunnel journey to France where we arrived after midnight.

UMG 662 Monte Carlo Rally 1954

In a way it was good to just cross the Channel near Dover rather than take the ferry from Hull. It was more in keeping with what the UK crews did in the past. Here is UMG 662 being checked aboard the ferry at Dover on its way to France on the Monte in 1954

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UMG Monte 16 2 Scrutineering

Scrutineering took place the afternoon before the start in unusually sunny conditions. The little side valve 3 speed Ford Popular on the right, a recent veteran of the Lands End – John O Groats Rally, proved surprisingly nimble and quick!

UMG Monte 16 3 JoG Civic Reception (Bertie Sutherland's niece - Lord Lieutenant of Caithness)

The Lord Lieutenant of Caithness made all the crews welcome at a civic reception in John O Groats the evening before the start. The rally plaques on the wall behind her belonged to her uncle Ian Sutherland who competed on the Monte many times in the fifties with his brother, Bertie. Much to my surprise it turned out Bertie Sutherland had owned UMG 662 in the seventies. The rally took us through Golspie and right past the front door of the garage where the car had sat under restoration for 10 years!

UMG Monte 16 4 JoG start

With new LED headlights burning brightly we were flagged off at dawn from John O Groats by the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness. Despite the bitter cold and early hour we were grateful that a large number of local people assembled to see us off. We were also given bags with local delicacies including miniature bottles of local whisky and some homemade biscuits. The hospitality of the people of John O Groats was magnificent.

UMG Monte 16 6 Cairngorm snow

After a spectacular drive down the coast to Inverness (following the route of the 1926 rally) we headed up towards Aviemore and  the Cairngorms. The weather deteriorated and we were hit by a blizzard of sleet and snow.

UMG Monte 16 5 Cairngorms snow

We had taken the precaution of fitting period demisters but neither they nor the wipers could cope. Luckily this was the worst weather we were to encounter on the whole rally.

UMG Monte 16 8 Gleneagles

As is often the case in Scotland the bad weather cleared as quickly as it arrived. By the time we made it to Perth the sun was shining. The road from Perth to Glasgow took us past the famous Gleneagles Hotel. I could not resist stopping at the hotel for a photo. In 1953 Gregor Grant driving UMG 662 won his class in the driving tests held at Gleneagles during the Coronation Rally. This was probably the first time the car had been back in 63 years!

UMG 662 Scottish Rally 1953

UMG 662 on the Scottish Coronation Rally 1953

 

 

 

UMG Monte 16 10 Paisley

The traditional start of the Monte in the UK is Glasgow but in recent years, the largest town in Scotland, Paisley has taken on the mantle. It was at paisley we met up with the cars doing the Historique rally to Monte Carlo as well as 20 or more cars doing local “Monte Heritage” runs from Paisley to Dumfries. The paddock was just by the Old Abbey and Town Hall. The Provost of Paisley very kindly welcomed us to a civic reception in the town hall whilst the hundreds of members of the public who had turned up to see the start had the opportunity to inspect all the cars and chat to the drivers.

UMG Monte 16 11 Paisley 2

Last minute tweaking for the Historique cars. The McGibbon Volvo Amazon at the front went on to win the Saltire Cup from the Glasgow start committee. White / Brown crewing the Rover 2000 beyond won the Thistle Cup.

UMG Monte 16 12 Paisley 3

The Classique cars waiting for the off. The Triumph Herald Coupe was driven to Monte by Glasgow start organiser Douglas Anderson.

UMG662 - Paisley Start, Monte Carlo Classic Rally 2016

The start of each car from the gantry was greeted by fire works and the cheers of over a thousand spectators. The very warm welcome given to the Rally by the people of Paisley was greatly appreciated.

There are a number of videos on YouTube showing the evening at Paisley including this one which (at 7.45) inexplicably focuses on yours truly treating the car to a general tighten up after the long run down from John O’ Groats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

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The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

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More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

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The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

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This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

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VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

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The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

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Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

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This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

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1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

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Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

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This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

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Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

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Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

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Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

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Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

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Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

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British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

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John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

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An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

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Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

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Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

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I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of driving my friend Pierre Lequex’s immaculately restored Racing Sprite to the Lenham Roadhouse Cafe in Kent. From the 50s to the 70s the Cafe was a regular stopping point for rally cars on their way to Europe, particularly for British Monte Carlo Rally contestants. Coaches running between Dover and London also used to stop there and it is said that Ian Fleming wrote much of his first Bond novel whilst eating breakfast at the Cafe when travelling up from his house in Folkestone to his publisher’s office in London.

After many years as a truck stop the Cafe now has new owners who have made an effort to try and capture the custom of classic car owners who might be interested in the Cafe’s old links to rallying. Having seen an advert for the Cafe in an MG club magazine Pierre and I decided to head there early one Saturday morning for breakfast in his recently restored Sprite. Unfortunately Pierre broke his arm the week or so before our trip so could not drive. Instead he very kindly let me drive his very precious car. So his bad luck was my good fortune!

We had great weather and a fantastic trip down through the back roads of Kent to Lenham. Pierre had bought the Sprite minus it’s engine in a pretty poor condition a number of years ago. He had spent the intervening period having the car expertly restored whilst he investigated its history. He new it had been raced but he managed to find out it had competed not only in events in the UK such as the Brighton Speed Trials, but also in international events on the continent. The car is a hoot to drive as the engine is powerful and the car weighs very little – even with two passengers! You can find out more about Pierre’s fantastic car on his website http://www.cyberspot.co.uk.

Then Lenham Roadhouse Cafe is not easy to find being hidden back from the road and with no signage to alert you to its presence. Once you do find it you have to navigate a porthole filled parking area to get to the entrance-not ideal in a low-slung sportscar. The Cafe building itself has clearly seen better days but the interior has recently been repainted and the walls adorned with many of rally (and Sprite) legend John Sprinzel’s rally plates. These and the large number of accompanying photographs make the trip worthwhile. The huge breakfasts at a reasonable price are also an incentive to make a visit!

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