Classic Mini John Cooper Works Rallye Monte Carlo Historique With Rauno Aaltonen – Video
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.
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?
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.
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.