Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Mini was simply perfect for rally racing right from the start, six works cars making their appearance in the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally just six months after the Mini had made its debut in the market. Private drivers entered six more of these brand-new, small but mighty performers. Back then, however, the newcomer was not yet particularly competitive, Riley/Jones finishing 23rd in the fastest Mini. A year later the small cars from Britain were not successful, either, none of the three works cars entered in the race reaching the finish line.
All this changed dramatically in 1962, when Rauno Aaltonen, the Flying Finn, entered the spectacular Rally for the first time at the wheel of a Mini Cooper. Unfortunately, this very nearly might have been his last Rally, too, with his car rolling over in an accident, landing on the roof and catching fire. Aaltonen just had a few seconds to get out before his Mini became a complete victim of the flames.
Only two other works Minis remained in the race, finishing the Rally as No 26 and 77. But two more names also appeared in the list of entrants, destined to hit the headlines in the not too distant future together with the MINI: This was the year in which Timo Mäkinen entered Monto Carlo the first time in a Mini Cooper, albeit as a private driver. And the Sunbeam Rapier finishing third overall was driven by an Irishman called Patrick Hopkirk.
Mini Coopers in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally were driven by the Three Musketeers Aaltonen, Hopkirk and Mäkinen being joined by Simo Lampinen and Tony Fall. Entering the event with starter number 177, Rauno Aaltonen/Henry Liddon finally ended up in first place, 12 seconds faster than the Lancia finishing second. All other Mini Coopers likewise saw the chequered flag, Hopkirk finishing 6th, Fall 10th, Lampinen 15th, and Mäkinen 41st.
source: The Italian Job