Realising that the Monte Carlo Rally would not last much longer if last year’s fiasco was repeated, the Automobile Club de Monaco modified their rather unfortunate factor of comparison for the 1962 event to equalise the chances of the 313 entries which ranged from 746 c.c. of D.A.F. to 3,670 c.c. of Aston Martin DB4. The rather too obvious runaway win for Panhard last year could not be allowed to happen again, although there is little evidence to suppose that Panhard sales increased immensely because of this win. Sydney Allard found that, despite the fantastic and disproportionate amount of publicity showered on this rally, sales of his Allard did not increase as a result of his victory with an Allard in 1952.
However, other manufacturers realised that much of the reason for the Panhard victory lay in the fact that the winning car, the Panhard Tiger, with a high-performance version of the twin-cylinder engine, was homologated with the F.I.A. whereas last year the modified versions of most other manufacturers’ products had to go into Group II or even Group III, giving them a very unsatisfactory factor of comparison. So during 1961 we saw manufacturer after manufacturer announce modified versions of their popular rally cars. B.M.C. announced the Cooper-Minis; Ford came out with the Anglia tuning kit, Standard-Triumph brought out a tuning kit and a disc brake set for the Herald, then shortly afterwards the Leyland regime disbanded the Competitions Department, leaving only six private entrants to contest the Monte Carlo Rally. That they have had second thoughts on the subject is indicated by the fact that Graham Robson has been given the job of organising a team of TR4s for the Tulip Rally. The excellent showing of the Swiss private owners Thuner and Gretener, who got a TR4 into second place in their class, seems to have caused this change of heart. Finally, Renault introduced a hot version of the Dauphine, known as the Rallye 1093, at the end of last year and managed to get it homologated very quickly, although it was rumoured that B.M.C. only received confirmation of homologation of the Cooper-Mini a short while before the start of the Rally. With all these new models about, Category 1, Class 1, for production touring cars between 500 and 1,000 c.c., promised to be the most hard fought of the event and, as we now know, was to provide the overall winner.
The event followed the pattern set down last year of eight starting points, converging this year, after a long main-road haul, on Chambery, from which pleasant town the final 550 miles to Monaco carried competitors over the mountains via five special stages which decided the Rally. Certainly there was a good deal of criticism from competitors that they were subjected to a dreary 2,000-mile drag round Europe at low average speeds for about 85 miles of real hard driving on the five special stages. Much of this criticism stemmed from the fact that the weather was uncommonly kind, giving only a few miles of ice-bound roads over the whole route, which is something for which the organisers could hardly be blamed.
However, there was sufficient hard going on the special stages to sort out the drivers from those who had chosen the hard way to get a winter holiday in Monte Carlo, and there were far too many of those. On the first special stage, soon after leaving Chambery, drivers had to cross the two mountain passes of the Col du Granier and the Col du Cucheron in darkness. The Granier was covered in ice at the top and those who chose to go without studded tyres soon began to regret the decision for they were visiting the scenery pretty regularly. Many people outside of the works teams did not fit studded tyres for the simple reason that a set of Dunlop Durabands so fitted would have set them back at least £75! But a set of Pirelli BS3s with studs is much cheaper and can be used after the Rally! Prominent people who didn’t fit studded tyres were Graham Hill and Peter Harper and their times suffered on the icy bits. Eric Carlsson made fastest time on this 28-mile stage in 40 min. 27 sec. in his Saab, followed by Bohringer’s 220SE Mercedes-Benz in 41 min. 20 sec., with Paddy Hopkirk’s Rapier doing 41 min. 56 sec., these times indicating that handling was more important than power on this stage. Peter Procter was all set for fastest time on this stage but he punctured and mounted the parapet of a bridge, breaking his spot-lamps. Fortunately some locals lifted the Rapier down and he completed the section in 44 min. 45 sec., having lost five minutes with the puncture.
Whilst same of the driving was extremely skilful and the cars of the top drivers were really being flung round quite tortuous and icy bends, there were any number of cars being driven pathetically slowly, many of them regrettably being British entries. Driving a very ordinary 1,000-c.c. family saloon, the Motor Sport reporting crew were forced to pass a number of competitors in order to avoid baulking the really fast drivers. Unfortunately some people seem to treat a drive on the Monte Carlo Rally as a social attainment, the main object being to display the Rally plates for as long as possible and to wear a long string of lapel badges. There is an obvious need for some method of selection being made even if this means a reduction in the entries. This year all the British entries were accepted regardless of merit.
From the Col du Cucheron the route went south towards Mont Ventoux via a number of tightish sections which caught out some competitors. The timed stage on Mont Ventoux covered only a 10-mile section and as this was dry the faster cars held the advantage. Hans Walter was fastest in his Porsche in 10 min. 3 sec., followed by David Seigle-Morris’ 10 min. 15 sec. in his works Austin-Healey 3000, Donald Morley (MG.-A) 10 min. 55 sec. and Bohringer 11 min. 2 sec. Carlsson was not far behind, however, and recorded 11 min. 33 sec., although Pat Moss in her standard Cooper-Mini did 11 min. 32 sec. Showing that power wasn’t everything, Lyndon Sims’ Aston Martin DB4 recorded 11 min. 39 sec. and Merrick’s E-type Jaguar did 12 min. 5 sec.
With daylight breaking, the early starters reached the southern edge of the Alps and two special stages, which followed each other in quick succession near Thorene. These were on fairly narrow roads twisting and turning through tree-lined hillsides, virtually dry and free from ice except for the odd patch here and there. These called for high speeds and careful judgment from drivers who had been out of bed for three clear days already, but incidents were few, only a couple of Citroens putting themselves out of the Rally on these sections. German driver Kuhne was fastest on the first stage in his 220SE in an astonishing 10 min. 58 sec., next best being Walter’s Porsche in 11 min. 53 see., while Bohringer did 12 min. 8 sec. to the 12 min. 29 sec. of Carkson’s Saab. This and the next section were a gift to those who could afford the time and the money to do a reconnaisance of the route and make notes on the severity of the bends, for they could be taken very fast indeed if the road was familiar. One or two of the petrol and oil companies provide route notes for those who use their products and cannot do a “recce,” and in fact we used the Castrol notes prepared by John Sprinzel. They certainly helped us to go faster, but in some cases we disagreed with his grading of the severity of a bend, and it requires some bravery to go blinding into a bend on someone else’s say-so.
Seigle-Morris in the big Healey was fastest on the next 15-mile special section, in 20 min. 31 sec., with the ever-present Carlsson next in 20 min. 35 sec., while Bohringer could only manage 20 min. 47 sec. on a stage made for the Merc. The Rally was now nearing its end and only the final special section over the Col de Turini remained. Last year this was covered in snow and ice but this year the ascent was completely dry except for one patch of ice which had been shielded from the sun by some towering rocks. The faster drivers were really getting in the groove by the time they reached this patch of ice on an open leftbander, and car after car cannoned off the rock face on the outside of the bend, to the huge delight of a bunch of girls from a hostel at the summit of the Col. Here, Rene Trautmann, who was driving extremely fast in his DS19, hit the wall head on and lost a lot of time in prising a wing off the tyre. As well as losing him time the damage cost him so penalty marks which dropped him from 9th to 12th position in the provisional results. Carlsson flew round this bend and lost control but he was going so fast that he only clipped the rock with the back end of the Saab and with his foot still flat on the floor he carried on quite unabashed, to make third best time over this last stage, in 31 min. 26 sec. Fastest was Walter in 30 min. 31 sec., with Bohringer on 31 min. 18 sec. On the final run down to the end of this section on dry roads, the Mabbs/Aaltonen Cooper-Mini hit a protruding rock and rolled a number of times, catching fire in the process. Both were saved from injury by their safety belts and Mabbs was able to drag Aaltonen out. Aaltonen had been driving on the special stages and Mabbs reckoned to have seen 7,900 r.p.m. on the rev.-counter in top gear shortly before the accident! This accident was a great pity for they would have been excellently placed in the results.
Next day when the provisional results were announced it was no surprise to find Carlsson in the lead, a merited win for his aggregate time over the special stages was five seconds faster than Bohringer’s. The races on the following day proved to be of more than usual importance, for the A.C. de Monaco decided that the factor of comparison would not apply in this case, just as they decided to change the system of marking last year. However, Bohringer had to make up 11 seconds a lap on Carlsson, which was really not possible on the twisty G.P. circuit, and the big Swede went fast enough to keep out of trouble. Other people were able to better their positions, however, none more ridiculous than the case of Kuhne who was able to leap from 49th place to eighth as a result of five quick laps of a racing circuit. This nearly threatened the team prize of the Sunbeam Rapier team which would have been a great pity, for the Rapier drivers, Hopkirk, Procter, Graham Hill, Harper and Tiny Lewis got their 3rd, 4th, 10th, 12th and 17th places through sheer driving ability supported by a first-class sports saloon, even though it was rumoured that each works Rapier costs some £1,700 to prepare and enter for the Monte. B.M.C. had the satisfaction of getting some class wins although against rather limited opposition, but Pat Moss showed the possibilities of the standard Cooper-Mini by finishing 26th and winning the Coupe des Dames for the third time. It is a great pity that the B.M.C. advertising department should try and blow up these creditable placings into an outright win by blatantly stating “B.M.C. wins Monte Carlo Rally” in their national press success adverts, although it was noticed that the wording was modified to “B.M.C. wins in the Monte Carlo Rally” in their adverts in the technical press—an entirely different thing. Fortunately, the new Parliamentary Bill, proposing heavy fines for misleading advertising, should take care of instances like this in future years.
There was less for competitors to moan about in this year’s Monte, which is a blessing, but it is by no means perfect yet. The right man won this year, although the cynics were betting on the new Simca 1000 or the 1093 Dauphine, but there is an awful lot of dreary motoring to be done for an hour or two of real dicing. It has been suggested that there should be only one starting point in future years, but most of the glamour of this event lies in the fact that the masses who are not motoring enthusiasts believe that the Rally is a race from the capitals of Europe to Monte Carlo. With only one starting point the Monte would soon attract the same attention as all the other International rallies—none. What this writer would like to see is a much shorter run-in stage with perhaps a two-day mountain dice, with drivers having a night in bed in between, for several nights out of bed only proves who takes the best or the most “wakey-wakey” pills. The route should be absolutely secret on each day’s run, and should be varied enough to equalise the chances of saloon and G.T. cars without the need for a factor of comparison, studded tyres should be banned, and only the occupants of the car to be allowed to work on the car. This would even up the chances of works drivers and private owners, and if the Rally were to be run on these lines I might be convinced that the winning car is the one for me.
A number of new models were making their debut in the Monte, including the Simca 1000, Vauxhall Victor, Ford Classic and Capri, Fiat 1500, D.A.F. Daffodil, Cooper-Mini, M.G. Midget, Volvo 1318, Lancia Flavia, N.S.U. Prinz 4, Triumph TR4, and D.K.W. 800S. The D.K.W. finished fifth, the Flavia ninth, the Cooper-Mini 25th, the TR4 35th, the Midget 33rd, but the others didn’t figure very highly.
Wouldn’t mind a drive in the Walker/Steiner Ford Anglia, which had a Cosworth engine. It out-accelerated a DS19 up the hill on the G.P. circuit. In Group III trim it almost won its class, being pipped on the circuit races by Peter Riley’s Midget.
Our chests swelled with British pride when Lyndon Sims’ immaculate green Aston Martin DB4 stormed round the Grand Prix circuit miles faster than any other car.
Which Grand Prix drivers bounced off the wall at Tobacconist’s Corner during the races ?
Last year’s winner Maurice Martin, still driving a Panhard, finished 47th.