THE roar of engines will be heard throughout Paisley tomorrow night as the Renfrewshire town hosts a start point for the 2018 Monte Carlo rally.
Around 70 historic cars are set to leave the start ramp outside Paisley Abbey, with many of them making the full 1500-mile trip to the South of France.
They’ll be waved on by thousands lining the streets, including 10-year-old Emilia Kozlowska of St John Ogilvie Primary School, who won a Renfrewshire-wide competition to design the starting flag.
It’s the fifth time the town will host the event, and it’s the only British start point out of six European cities where drivers can set off from.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the Monte Carlo Classic Rally back to Paisley for a fifth year.
“The sight of the cars gathered outside Paisley Abbey always makes a fantastic spectacle, and brings a great turnout.
“This is the first event in Renfrewshire’s 2018 major events programme, which aims to bring footfall into our town centres and showcase our unique attractions to visitors.
“Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 had a hugely positive impact on the town’s profile and reputation and we will build on that with another great year of major events.”
Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator and the man responsible for bringing the Monte back to Scotland in 2011, will be leading the cars off to Monte Carlo in his 1961 Triumph Herald Coupe.
He said: “Paisley’s mid-winter carnival, the Monte Carlo Rally Star, is back for a record fifth time with a record number of cars heading for the sunshine. It’s acknowledged to be the best of all the rally starts around Europe.
“Be part of the excitement by coming along to cheer them on their way on Wednesday evening. Share the magic of the Monte.”
Thousands attended the event last year, with lights, music, street food and pyrotechnics making it a spectacular occasion for all the family.
Organisers are hoping to make this year’s rally start even bigger and better.
All the competing cars will assemble from around 4pm in the precincts of Paisley Abbey on the evening of Wednesday January 31st before setting off at 6pm for the long drive south.
Families are encouraged to come along from 3pm, with Paisley Town Hall hosting a giant Scalextric set, a Sega Rally arcade machine, children’s workshops, face painting and refreshments for those wanting to gear themselves up before the send-off at 6pm.
The Historique class is being run for the 21st 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 having undertaken a series of fourteen demanding test stages in the mountains of southern France.
The Classique event is for older cars from as early as 1911 to 1969 and follows the same route to Monte Carlo but does not include any test stages, the goal simply being to finish in Monte Carlo after checking in at a series of control points on the way, including Dumfries in the south of Scotland, Barnby Moor in Nottinghamshire and Banbury in Oxfordshire.
Once again the event will feature the popular Monte Heritage Runs which will follow on from the full-scale events and motoring enthusiasts in a range of interesting cars from over the years will take in a series of short classic routes in Scotland, including Aberdeen, Dumfries and Stirling.
Among the entrants who’ll be heading for Monte Carlo in the Historique Class and already in Paisley, are the French crew of Gerard Thill and Colette Roubaud. Their superb red 1971 Saab 96 V4 comes from Trollhattan in Sweden and was originally owned by an engineer who worked at the Saab factory. Gerard and Colette will be taking part in their ninth Historique Monte but it’s the first time they’ve started from Scotland. Previously they’ve set off from Reims, Bad Homburg, Monaco, Oslo, Barcelona and Marrakech.
It’s a slightly closer-to-home start for the three-man Angus-based crew of David Tindal, Alan Falconer and Stephen Woods who decided only recently they’d like to do the event. Fortunately David’s 18-year-old son just happened to have a 1956 Ford Prefect which he was working on in his garage. They rushed to complete the job and they’ll be competing in the Classique group under the team name ‘Kilts to Carlo’ to raise funds for Prostate Scotland.
Also taking on the challenge is husband and wife team Jim and Norma Watson from Dunfermline who are MG fans and have owned a number of different models over the years. They bought their current MGB GT just to take part in the Classique event. Although both now retired, they are not taking it easy. When not rallying they sail and are currently restoring a wooden sailing yacht.
From Troon, Craig McGibbon has entered his Volvo 122S for the second time in the Historique category but this time he has a very experienced navigator in Karsten Brown sitting alongside. Before retirement they were both highly-trained professional drivers and are looking forward to showing the others how it’s done.
David Glen and Andrew Sturgess from Glasgow are a well-established crew who are competing in their 5th Monte. Their car is a rare 1978 Escort RS 2000 with equally rare X pack modifications. David and Andrew managed to finish the rally last year despite having a ‘coming together’ with an Alfa Romeo en route, but it is now back to its original condition and they are raring to go.
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