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Little Classics News: 10 December 2015

Mini Focus at Historic Rally Car Register Open Day

Mini rallying

The HRCR (Historic Rally Car Register) Open Day on 16 January 2016 at the British Motor Museum, (formerly known as the Heritage Motor Centre), will look back 50 years at the controversy created by the Mini on the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. The Open Day will also celebrate the Minis continued success and popularity in historic rallying today.

Following wins by the Mini in both 1964 and 1965, 1966 tipped the organisers over the edge when Timo Mäkinen led Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk to a dominant BMC Mini one, two, three finish. However, keen to see a result for Citroën on its home ground, the Minis were disqualified for having single filament bulbs in their standard head lamps instead of double-filament dipping bulbs, fitted to series production Minis. The disqualifications also extended to other British entries including Roger Clark in a Lotus Cortina in fourth and Rosemary Smith in a Hillman Imp in sixth (who would have won the Coupe des Dames).

Amidst the uproar the 5th placed Citroën ID of Pauli Toivonen (father of Henri Toivonen) was elevated to first position. This car also used the single filament bulbs, but was allowed to win as these were fitted as standard on some production models. Unhappy with the course of events, Toivonen refused to accept the cup at the presentation ceremony. The status quo was reinstated a year later in 1967, when Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Lidden won the event – once again in a Mini.

Classic Mini Cooper

In historic stage rallying, the HRCR Mintex ‘Old Stager’ Championship (incorporating the Mini Sport Mini Cup) has seen the popularly of the Mini continue to grow, with several Minis regularly competing on both gravel and tarmac events. Indeed, on the Rally Isle of Man, an additional three Minis from Japan meant there were 11 classic Minis competing.

In addition, one of the ‘Old Stager’ competitors, Clive King, with the support of the HRCR and Mini Sport, took rallying in a classic Mini to the next level by competing amongst the world’s top rally drivers on the final round of the 2015 WRC, the Rally Wales GB.

HRCR Chairman Paul Loveridge commented, “The Mini makes an ideal car to use in all forms of historic rallying and with the support of companies like Mini Sport, cars can be both affordable to develop and maintain, and of course fun to drive and competitive too. More and more people are using their classic Minis for historic rallying and 2016 will inevitably see these brilliant little cars making the headlines again, just as they did 50 years ago”.

However, it’s not all about Minis! Historic rallying is open to all makes and models of classic cars manufactured before January 1986 and the HRCR support five different forms of historic rally events and championships that offer something for everyone – from the Scenic Tours Series, Clubmans Road Rallies, Speed Series Hill Climbs/Sprints and ‘Old Stager’ Stage Rallies as well as the Premier Championship.

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