THE PERFECT TEAM.
In 1967, Rauno Aaltonen won the Monte Carlo Rally in a classic Mini. In 2017, he was at the start line of the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique once again.
No other car turned the world of rally racing in the 1960s upside down like the BMC Mini Cooper S, that won the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique a total of three times. The last winner was Finish driver, Rauno Aaltonen, in 1967. He joined the race again, driving an original rally car from back in the day.
A small British car left all of its competitors behind. Sports cars and limousines, regardless of whether they had four or six cylinders, did not seem to stand a chance against the popular Cooper models – a brilliant small car from England. Rauno Aaltonen drove his first race in 1962, although he had to withdraw shortly before the finish line because of an accident. In 1964 and 1965, his team mates, Paddy Hopkirk and Timo Mäkinen, claimed the overall victory. 1966 could have then become the perfect year for the classic Mini: positions one to three could have been taken by the three musketeers – Mäkinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk. However, things turned out differently and resulted in a disqualification because of a lighting system that allegedly did not comply with regulations.
The reward came a year later in 1967. Rauno Aaltonen became the long awaited overall champion and the classic Mini ultimately became a legend. Although this was half a century ago, the former champion has still got it.
On a historic path.
The Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique has been remembering the stars and legends of their day since 1998. Any cars that were part of the race between 1955 and 1980 are allowed to join in. The rally is once again based on the old model and has a variety of starting points. The one in Germany is in Bad Homburg. In contrast to the legendary model, the Monte Historique focuses on uniformity and the most accurate timekeeping. That is something to be reckoned with and requires a lot of precision and attention.
Although "The Rally Professor", Rauno Aaltonen, is 79 years old now, meticulous preparations are still part of his trademark. He thus drove the 1250 kilometre route beforehand and even made notes of every little detail on the special tests. His Swedish co-driver, Hans Sylvan, is also an old hand who does not need anything explaining to him.
The rally car may not be the car that won in 1967, however, it is still a genuine original. It was at the start line of the 1965 Monte Carlo race and Swedish company, Söderqvist, completed extensive restoration and preparatory work for its new adventure. It was even fitted with specially designed studded tyres as the weather conditions during the race can change drastically. Although this time, drivers hardly saw any snow. However, who was to know that beforehand?
Small car attracts huge crowds.
Rauno Aaltonen and his flame red classic Mini with the same start number as back in the day – number 177 – certainly attracted huge crowds. Wherever they went, people immediately gathered around. The same spirit and level of fascination seems to have been retained. The calm and leisurely approach adopted by the mature team members, Aaltonen and Sylvan, towards the happy crowd and their array of questions, was truly amazing. Although the aim was no longer to achieve the best time, the Monte Historique certainly is not a promotional tour.
Luck plays a factor.
Of course, a win fifty years after the first triumph would have been amazing. However, this requires a little luck regardless of how well-prepared you are. Unfortunately, they had to give up on this dream as the odometer failed on the first day. There were just too many malfunctions and the lost time just could not be made up.
Despite all of this, a happy team crossed the finish line in Monte Carlo. It was almost as if we had turned back time – some victories simply still stand out half a century later.
BMW Group Classic goes Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique 2017.