obituary

Maurice Gatsonides

Maurice Gatsonides, who has died aged 88, was a giant of post-war rallying.

A one-time KIM flight engineer, Gatsonides entered a battered Hillman Minx in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1936, and then went on to enter the event a further 23 times. In a rallying career that lasted 29 years, he entered 140 rallies, 60 races and 20 hillclimbs. His Finest hour was his Monte win in 1953 in Ford's works Zephyr Six. Gatsonides was as industrious as he was competitive. A successful garage owner since before the Second World War, he built and raced his own sports car in 1949 on an old Fiat chassis. At Zandvoort It caused a real sensation when it set a 1.5-litre lap record of 63.7mph. The crowds loved it, nicknaming the waist-high two-seater "Flatje", or Flatly.

Gatsonides was then struggling to put his own V8-engined Gatso sports car,featuring a Perspex roof specially made by Fokker, into production. In 1950, however, he went bust and reluctantly sold Flatly to pay creditors. Later, Gatsonides devised an electronic stopwatch for motor sport, to remove, he said, "the human factor in measuring time and distance". As the subsequent 'Gatso' camera, the affable Dutchman thus unwittingly created the bane of all enthusiastic drivers' lives.