Timo on the Targa: rotors, bumpers and broken bottles

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Timo Mäkinen contested the Targa Florio with the BMC works squad on three occasions — 1965-67.

The first of these was in a rally-spec Healey 3000 co-driven by Australian racer Paul Hawkins. But for a broken rotor arm they might have finished in the top 10 and beaten the Ferrari 250GTOs to a class win. They might also have done a lot better than their eventual 21st place had the team informed Hawkins of the spare rotor arm it had thoughtfully secreted in the cockpit. ‘Hawkeye’ only discovered this having run two miles back to the pits from the stranded car. He turned the air blue before retracing his weary steps.

The following year provided Timo with a more straightforward campaign — once a pair of English spectators had been persuaded to part with the bumpers from their road-going MGB; the scrutineers insisted that Mäkinen’s Group 3 machine be so equipped. Timo shared the car with John Rhodes and they finished ninth overall, first in class.

In 1967, Mäkinen shared a bit of a bitsa with fellow Monte Carlo Rally winner Paddy Hopkirk. The car featured the lightweight alloy GT shell that had been prepped for a racing version of the six-cylinder MGC engine. But that was still top secret — and so a stretched 2004cc B motor was fitted on this occasion.

The car was also odd in that it was painted red on

the inside, green on the outside — the result of a last-minute realisation that cars in the Prototype class had to run in national racing colours, not the usual red bodies-white roof of BMC.

There was another problem before the race: Timo and team-mate Rauno Aaltonen were put into custody after a fracas at Naples airport. The cause of the dispute was some broken vodka bottles! The MG GTS, as the team called it, finished ninth — unofficially. A complicated results system meant that it was unclassified overall because it failed to complete the race within 110 per cent of the class winner’s time. It was, however, awarded third in class! PF

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