THEY gathered at a cold, wet and blustery Clydeside yesterday, but next month a group of classic cars will be making a journey to much sunnier climes.
Clydebank will be a start point for the 2019 edition of the Monte Carlo Rally, with crews from around the world setting off on their journey from the start ramp in the shadow of the famous Titan Crane.
It will be the second time the town has hosted a starting event for the historic run, with thousands turning out to watch when the rally was last in town back in 2012.
Around 80 cars of all ages are expected to take part in the challenge, with drivers coming from the US and France among those involved.
Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator of the event, said: “It is wonderful to have the Scottish start returning to Clydeside.
“The event grows in stature every year and we’re confident the 2019 event will attract big crowds to wave them off on their drive to the sunshine in the South of France. They’ll all be sharing the magic of the Monte.”
He added: “I’m really looking forward to it and so are all the competitors. Let’s hope it’s a nice evening and not too cold!”
Clydebank is the only British start point of six European cities for a range of classic cars to make the 1500-mile trip to the South of France and is staged by the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM).
Bailie Denis Agnew, Convener of the Cultural Committee at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “I’ve always felt that hosting the Monte Carlo Rally projects West Dunbartonshire onto a world platform and the fact that drivers are travelling from America and France to start the Rally in Clydebank is testament to this.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the organisers back to Clydebank as well as participants and spectators from near and far.”
He added: “I’m really excited, it’s a wonderful historic event in the calendar of car racing and rallying. It’s great for it to come to Clydebank on our quayside on the former John Brown’s site.
“We’re about six weeks away from the drive so hopefully the weather improves! The last time we had it here we had around 14 thousand people here, it was a great turnout.
“This time it’s midweek so we might not have as many but I’m sure people will come out because it’s a terrific occasion.”
Rally drivers will set off in one of three different categories in the event, which had a Scottish start point in Paisley last year.
The Historique Class is being run for the 22nd year and is restricted to car models which competed in the Monte Carlo Rallies between 1955 and 1980.
It will run 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.
The Classique event is for older cars and in the 2019 entry list there are no fewer than five Riley cars from the 1930s – three of them driven by American crews – and an MG from 1949.
They will follow the same route to Monte Carlo but will not compete in any test stages, the goal simply being to finish after checking in at a series of control points on the way, including Dumfries, Barnby Moor in Nottinghamshire and Banbury in Oxfordshire.
Finally, the event will also have the popular Monte Heritage Runs which will follow on from the full-scale starts and take in a series of short classic routes in Scotland including John O’Groats, Aberdeen, Stirling and Dumfries.