MONTE CARLO RALLY 1964

MONTE CARLO

Paddy Hopkirk in a Mini-Cooper S

 

HENRY LIDDON-a strapping Englishman who wears glasses like the bottoms of beer bottles and is one of the best co-drivers in the business: "Paddy wasn't even driving well. It didn't feel right. Not to me. Not to him."Paddy Hopkirk just grinned his Irish grin. A 31-year-old motoring school proprietor from Belfast, Hopkirk was best British finisher in 1962 and 1963, now best finisher of all in 1964.

STUART TURNER-BMC's competition manager, and, if success is a measure, the best in rallying

Hopkirk's victory, the team prize, the GT victory in the Morley brothers' MGB; "everything but the best Glasgow starter" as he put it: "But people keep coming up to me, not to congratulate me on winning, but on 'beatmg those bloody Fords.' Ford has a public relations problem on its hands. It's too bad."

BO LJUNGFELDT second-place overall in a Falcon V -8, whose combined times were still the fastest over. the five special stages and whose performance on the Monte Carlo circuit was as smooth as lake water and easily best of all com­petitors: "Not good. Not good."

SCOTT HARVEY-SCCA National Rally champion and driver of a Valiant finishing 88th overall, at the finish: "It's really not much different from the Canadian Winter Rally. They just put more emphasis on scoring."

GRAHAM HILL-1962 world driving champion: "Rally driving and race driving are two completely different things. You can't compare them. I don't mind saying I have a lot to learn about rally driving. Rallying has changed, too. A few years ago I didn't even do a recce. Just got in the car, drove the rally and finished tenth. You can't do that any more."

International rallying is a tough, demanding, professional sport. The fact that there was little snow for the 33eme RalLye Automobile Monte Carlo 1964 did not make it any easier for the pros taking part-it just made it different. Indeed, the patchiness of the ice made things more difficult in a way. Not only was the road surface unprediCtable with sudden ice at critical places, it made it hard to choose the tires for the special stages-light studs, heavy studs, no studs. Was it better to make hay on dry roads with normal tires and go dead slow over the icy sections, assuming you saw them in time? Or was it better to have the security of studs on the ice and the bother of them on the dry?

"Paddy was braking far too soon on the Turini because the tires were so good,"Henry Liddon said. They were using a special Finnish stud. 'He had to accelerate into the corners." Other Minis on different studs found them a bother.   "We dropped at least two minutes on the Turini because of the tires," Anne Hall said. And well I believe it, because I was sitting next to her reading pace notes into our radio 'equipped helmets' and marveling that she kept the Falcon pointing in the general direction of the way we wanted to go. We had switched from the lightly studded Swiss Firestones to the heavy Indias with many Swedish spikes just before the Turini, a hairpin-filled pass that was the fifth stage. It was a terrible mistake. All but uncontrollable on the dry, they were, and much of the Turini was dry. The part that was ice was also packed snow, so the Swiss studs would have been enough.

Ljungfeldt had changed to the studs and changed back before the stage. Peter Jopp hadn't had time to change and was better off for it-the fifth stage was the only one on which he was faster than the Yorkshire housewife who did the tough driving in our Falcon. These special stages are, as George Merwin of Ford would say, "the name of the game." That's where the Monte is decided. It may start in many far-flung cities-Minsk, Oslo, Athens, Paris, Glasgow, Lisbon, Monte Carlo for instance: but the rally really gets underway on the third sleepless day when all routes converge on Reims (this year) and follow a common course down the bony back of France's mountains to Monte Carlo.

There are five special stages rangng .from about 17 to 35 kilometers jn length, up and down mountain passes on tiny narrow roads usual1y left to lurching Deux Chevaux vans. You clock in at the start, drive like hell and clock in at the finish; the guy who was fastest between the two often enough is apt to win. (Perhaps this is the emphasis on scoring to which Scott Harvey referred.

The scratch times spent on the special stages are multiplied by a factor which is determined by engine size and by category (GT cars have a much tougher index than Touring cars). Then when the cars reach Monte Carlo, after a day of rest, there are three timed laps apiece on the Grand Prix circuit (with no handicap factor) and these are added into the score and the name on top belongs to the smiling victor. This, ignoring the protests that fly thick and furious, is the way the Monte is settled.

At the arrival in Monaco on a chilly but sunny Tuesday, Paddy Hopkirk's Mini-Cooper S led all the rest. (Of the 300 some starters, 163 arrived and 74 of them were unpenalized on the road.)

Behind Paddy came the two Saabs of the two Carlssons-Erik and Mrs. Pat Moss-Erik, with Gunnar Palm, was in second and Pat, with Ursula Wirth, was in third. In fourth was Timo Makinen, the large and likable Finn in another Mini Cooper S, with Patrick Vans on as co-driver.

In fifth was Ljungfeldt with Fergus Sager in the Falcon. Sixth was Tom Trana, the young Swede who recently won the RAC Rally, in a works Volvo. Seventh was another Finn and another Mini-Cooper S Rauno Aaltonen; navigated by Tony Ambrose. The top ten was rounded out by a Swede-Carl-Magnus Skogh in a Volvo, a German-Bohringer in a Mercedes, and a Finn Toivonen in a 1500 Volkswagen. This was before the speed trials and it was expected to change. Ljungfeldt, for instance, was certain to improve his fifth place in his thundering Falcon. But actually, the top ten only shuffled a little without the personnel changing. Hopkirk, of course, had been unassailable, anyway, barring a total breakdown.

The standings then read: 1. Hopkirk, 2. Ljungfeldt, 3. Carlsson, 4. Makinen, 5. Moss-Carlsson, 6. Trana, 7. Aaltonen, 8. Bohringer, 9. Skogh, and 10. Toivonen.

Jo Schlesser in a French-entered Falcon had pulled up to 11th to be the top Frenchman, nosing out Rene Trautmann who was 12th in a Citroen. This was the first Citroen a marque that placed five in the top ten last year, and now its second best was Lucien Bianchi's 21st. Citroens clearly missed the snows of yesteryear.

Now what about the Falcons? Well, eight had started the journey and eight had completed it, but only seven were to be classified as finishers. Peter Harper, who had been 22nd on arrival at Monte, chose to finish much more dramatically. During the speed test, he braked hard to avoid a Citroen as he came out of the chicane onto the waterfront straight and the brakes which had been troublesome enough to see that he arrived tail first around the gasworks hairpin once-locked up and he spun mightily leaving the fiberglass hulk shattered on a tree. He was unhurt.

And it was all for naught, as it happened. There were two laps of the test gone when this happened, and it seemed something was wrong with the timing mechanism so all the cars were flagged to a stop to be re-started. Peter Proctor, whose Sunbeam had been 11th on arrival at Monte, complained bitterly about having to go four more laps (three are timed) because his car had lost the front suspension coming down the Turini and was running on borrowed time as it was. Anne Hall, who claims she doesn't like racing circuits, really didn't mind the extra practice (we all thought she was going to take the train home the first time around the station hairpin) and riding with her was a first in class that I would share.

Anyway, they flagged them off again. Proctor's car made it after all (he ended a respectable 15th in the Sunbeam) and Anne managed to post a tie for fifth fastest time of the day, moving her up to 39th overall and won first in the GT class.

Ljungfeldt was first in his class (Schlesser was third behind Bohringer's Mercedes). Actually there was no difference between our GT Falcon and the touring Falcons, but it-along with Jopp's car-was hastily switched to GT when it was discovered that Scott Harvey's Valiant had been entered as a GT. Ford just couldn't give Chrysler a Monte class win to advertise. They didn't. We were first, Jopp was second and Harvey third.

Protests were ended for the day. The final "race" saw some more. The cars, about a dozen in each event, are flagged off five seconds apart, then when their one starting lap and three timed laps are finished, they are flagged into the parc ferme off the end of the gasworks corner. The little man doing the flagging showed a red flag not only to Ljungfeldt but to Aaltonen and Skogh, too, but the latter two had done only two timed laps. Louis Chiron immediately admitted the error of his official and advised both drivers to enter a protest. The arrangement was that the two laps would be averaged and that average taken as a third lap. Then came the counter-protests (Ford America, it was rumored, backed one of the complaints). But since the alternative was to scrub the entire day of racing, as BMC obviously could not be deprived of its team prize through the error of an official, the agreement stood.

There were rumors of other protests, though nothing came of it. Citroen, it was said, had protested the entire Ford team, perhaps because of the fiberglass bodies. perhaps on general principles. But all was legal anyway. (The fiberglass may be legal, but it isn't popular. At every stop Frenchmen thumped the Falcon, turned up their noses and grunted, "plastique")

So in this year of our Ford, 1964, Falcons fared right well in the Monte. Better than last. But last year they were an unknown, an underdog. This year they were expected to win-particularly since it was a dry year and that was supposed to favor the Falcon speed (actually Ljungfeldt would have been better off in heavy snow). On the fourth special stage-the fastest, most-open of the five-Pat and Erik Carlsson had, during their reece, painted "Ford Falcon Autobahn" on the wall near the start. (Someone else had added: "Saabs Go Home.") But the excess in power-and it is an awesome lot of power in those husky V -8s-did not payoff. Again it was a small car, with power over the drive wheels and an emphasis on maneuverability, that had won.

And the Valiants, what of them?

Chrysler had come with less fan fare than Ford to tryout the big winter publicity test. There were three of them. Trant Jarman, who shared the class-winning Falcon with Jopp last year, had one. His disappointing showing apparently stemmed from one of the mysteries of the year-he and his co-driver, Sam Croft-Pearson, a Monte veteran, spent long hours puzzling about it afterwards. "Fumes or drugs or what, I don't know," Trant said. "I was physically incapable of driving over fifty miles an hour. I would say 'Where are we now, Sam?" and he would mutter something and then come out with 'Double hotel rooms are cheaper than single hotel rooms.'

Scott Harvey and Gene Henderson in the second Valiant somehow lost a little time on the roa.d. They found the navigation more difficult than they expected, Scott said, and took wrong turns once or twice. And on the special stages, well, charitably, they were too slow.  

Esko Keinanen, a round-faced Finn who used to spend his time beating Alfas with a Skoda, drove the other Valiant and drove it without either Trant's or Scott's problems. He was quick as a bear. And on the third stage he was faster than Ljungfeldt, faster than Paddy, faster than light itself. He didn't make the fourth stage. The rear end packed up and that was that But it wasn't just Esko's speed that had everyone shaking his head, it was the fact that he had caught and passed Greder's Falcon on the second stage. Now, getting either a Falcon or a Valiant over this stage was some sort of accomplishment getting one past the other was clearly impossible. Esko admits he had a wheel or two off the edge.

Since the special stages are so all important, it is certainly worth driving home the point that Ljungfeldt was fastest on four of the five stages, tying (with Hopkirk) for second place behind Keinanen on the third stage.

Bo's superior showing on the 'round-the-houses GP circuit at Monaco neatly transformed the fifth place he then held into a brilliant second place. The top five in aggregate time (uncorrected by index factors) for the special stages were

1. Ljungfeldt (105:52), 2. Hopkirk (107: 14), 3. Bohringer (108:41), 4. Morley (l09: 23) and 5. Carlsson (110: 20-Pat beat him on the fourth stage and was sixth with 07 on total time).

Oh yes, the Russians. They were all Minsk starters, naturally. And all apparently very keen. Raymond Baxter, a BBC commentator who was a Minsk starter, said that they soon dubbed the Russians the "ton-up boys" because they all wore leathers. Apart from the fact that their "Volga" cars were slightly unsuitable for the rally, they just weren't very good drivers, he said, and we were given to understand that they'd brought no maps beyond hopes of learning. None finished but they were in Monte taking in the cocktail parties (including one given for them by Ford America) and apparently enjoying themselves. The organizers awarded them all a finishing badge out of good will and maybe they'll be back again.

Minsk, anyway, was apparently a swinging starting place. Hopkirk started there. And Monte was a grand place to finish. But when it comes to finishing a rally, anywhere is a grand place to finish.      

 

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Author: ArchitectPage

60'S RALLY