Minis to Monte 2006

HMX135B (Graeme Allan and Simon Drew)

GTX158C (Anthony Hart and Dave Greaves)

Monte Carlo or bust

Having completed just over 3,200 miles on the recent run from Perth to Monte Carlo and return, one could not expect the complete trip to go without a hitch. This time though the crews were ready for everything which the event could throw at us; at least that’s what we thought.

The run from Scotland to Goodwood went without a hitch as did the run to Portsmouth. Ferry trip across the channel was enjoyable then off to bed for a quick nap before starting the event proper early on Sunday morning from Le Havre to Rennes. A pleasant Sunday run was spent meandering through the French countryside then onto the motor museum; the return in company with ADL 800B (Kieron Fry and Mike Rainey); before our evening meal of raw steak which I prefer and a few glasses of wine, this is the life. Day 1 complete and no problems for HMX 135B and GTX 158C; cracked it.

Day 2 from Rennes to Limoges was again just a saunter through the countryside, no really enjoyable roads yet to get excited about.

Day 3 Limoges to Avignon; this is where the fun started. The roads had started to get slightly more twisty and the 3 cars (HMX, ADL & GTX) had a good old time. Last part of the journey involved a short trip along the motorway. Well ADL was fitted with a diff more suited to this type of road not HMX, but that did not stop us. Reckon we hit somewhere between 7.5 – 8k revs when the engine said that’s it. Ran on 3 cylinders to Hotel, parked car, took Simon for a beer to help him calm down. Plan of action considered which included 3 options:
a) Call AA and send the car home
b) Strip head and repair damage
c) Call International rescue

Option a) was never going to happen, whatever it took us we were going to fix the problem however long it took and complete the whole route. So it was between b) and c). Next job strip the head and send Mike Rainey, ace navigator from ADL, who just so happened to speak perfect French; well to my ears he did; to a garage outside the city walls which he had spotted. 30 minutes later head off and damaged exhaust valve removed, out for a meal ply Simon with a bottle of Red and discuss what to do next. We had to find a suitable 163 valve or have one sent from the UK. International rescue was called in the name of Kevin Murray at around 2100 and despite him being at work a 163 valve was packaged up and on its way the following day.

The following morning, Day 4, a trip to the garage Mike had spotted the previous day was on the cards. To cut a long story short the team managed to find a valve probably from some Renault which would do the job. Back to the garage grind it in, fit it and away we go, that’s what we did and by 1415 we were on our way. On our way out of the city we called in to see Mr Daniel Catto, garage proprietor, and he was thoroughly delighted to have helped us out.
Next decision was, do we cut and run and miss some of the route or follow the route? We followed the route to Gap arriving at 2130 to a tremendous welcome from all the other crews; thank you all. Can it get any worse, well yes it does.

Day 5 included the run up the Col de Turini, hairpin corners, steep climbs and descents. All was going well and we were only 300 metres from the summit when the navigator, no not me, realised we were going up the wrong road, stop both cars and decide what do we do. Answer; go back down and start again. Well on the way up the right way this time ADL decided to deposit all the brake fluid over the rear wheel arch so we had to take it easy until reaching the summit. At the summit repairs were affected which meant running with no back brakes until we caught up with the service barge. On our way again 2 hours down. Later on ADL developed another problem of knocking from the front. A planned pit stop for fuel became another service halt. Heat from the serious braking; even though we only had front brakes it did not slow us; had melted the paint on the wheels and the nuts were not holding tight; answer grind down the nuts and off we go again. Just so happens the garage had a hydraulic jack and grinder, which we were given free use of, lucky again or what. Then HMX decided it was about time it had its share of attention so it decided to boil its brake fluid, change was affected at the side of the road and just for good measure a flat tyre was also changed. Off we go again and with only 1 mile to the hotel ADL had a puncture. Late for the meal again; sorry folks but on the plus side we enjoyed night time driving.

Day 6 was the last day but before getting started we had to have the two punctures repaired as by this time the tyres were a bit threadbare!!!!!! and all the spares were used up. Late starting again but this time we were on a mission to catch up and enjoy the day with the other cars having not seen most of them for two days.

My view of the event. Well organised as I expected, a wonderful route and new friendships made. Roll on the next event but with a 163 head, valves and some brake pipes in the spares box this time. Oh, the 163 valve arrived at Avignon and has since made its return to the UK, and finally, despite running with a French valve in the car we still made it to the end and back home without being disqualified as happened in 66.

Graeme Allan (Car 6)

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