Paisley hosts a party to send off cars and crew at start of historic Monte Carlo rally

A party atmosphere in the centre of Paisley gave a big send-off to the cars and crews in this year’s start of the 2018 historic rally run to Monte Carlo.

A total of 70 cars left the start ramp - the largest number of entries so far – with the first 24 of them now on the 1500-mile trip to the South of France.

Paisley hosts a party to  send off cars and crew at start of historic Monte Carlo rally

But for 10 year old Emilia Kozlowska, of St John Ogilvie Primary School in Paisley, it was a really special occasion.

She won a Renfrewshire-wide competition for a pupil to design the flag to be used to wave off the drivers and she joined Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron on the start ramp with her flag to send the cars on their way.

It was the fifth time the town – the sole shortlisted Scottish entry for the title UK City of Culture 2021 – was the only British start point of six European cities.

There are three separate categories:

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 runs 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 featured the popular Monte Heritage Runs which followed on from the full-scale events and motoring enthusiasts in a range of interesting cars from over the years are taking in a series of short classic routes in Scotland, including Aberdeen, Dumfries and Stirling.

A crowd of thousands gathered in the centre of Paisley with the magnificent backdrop of the Abbey to wave off the crews in a party atmosphere with lights, music, street food and pyrotechnics…..and working with staff from Renfrewshire Council and volunteers from many motorsport clubs in Scotland, the organisers made sure this year’s start was even bigger and better.

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, led the cars off to Monte Carlo in his 1961 Triumph Herald Coupe.

He said: “Paisley’s mid-winter carnival – the Monte Carlo Rally Start – 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.”

Leading off the cars in the Heritage runs was a magnificent 1933 Rolls Royce 20/25 Sedanca de Ville by Park Ward which was loaned by Littles Chauffeur Drive. Crowds gathered to see the classic piece of automotive history

with its closed rear passenger compartment and open front section for the chauffeur.

Among the entrants heading for Monte Carlo in the Historique Class 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 are 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.

Also from across the Channel, Albert De May and co-driver Roland De Bargigli from Belgium brought their magnificent 1936 Chevrolet Coupe over to Scotland for the Paisley Abbey start. They had originally planned to set off from Lisbon but when that start point was cancelled they opted instead for Paisley.

Albert said: “I love the UK and especially Scotland so it’s all worked out well. The Paisley start point also gives us the opportunity to travel through more attractive routes.”

It was 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 are competing in the Classique group under the team name ‘Kilts to Carlo’ to raise funds for Prostate Scotland.

James Mann from Eastbourne is taking part in his second Rallye Monte Carlo Classique in his Lagonda M45 tourer which was first bought by his grandfather in 1934 and has been in the family ever since. This time his co-driver is his partner Tracey Miklaucich in her first Monte.

The car however is more experienced than both of them having competed originally in the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, starting from John O’Groats. The car is affectionately known as ‘Josephine’ and the grand old lady has done more than 425,000 miles.

Growing up in Ireland, Stephen Latta heard stories of the greats of motorsport, such as Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn competing in the 1955 Dundord Tourist Trophy. He dreamed of owning a 1955 Mercedes and competing in the Monte, Mille Miglia and Dundord. After searching far and wide he found his 1955 Mercedes 220a on the other side of the world in Tasmania, negotiated the deal and three months later the car arrived in Northern Ireland. The run to Monte Carlo is its first outing.

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 feeling confident.

The cars are due to arrive in Monte Carlo on Saturday evening.