"Vinner"(alla Valentino Rossi) Montecarlo Rally 1966
Ex-BMC Factory Team 1966
Monte Carlo Rally (Timo Makinen) and 1966 Polish Rally (Rauno Aaltonen)
1965 Morris Mini Cooper 1275S Saloon
Registration no. GRX 555D
Chassis no. KA2S4/820484
Engine no. 9FAY39690
the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust archives and confirmed by their
manufacturing trace certificate, works Mini Cooper 1275S number KA2S4/820484
in Tartan Red with black roof was factory-built 1 December 1965 and was despatched
9 December to the MG Car Company based BMC Competitions Department for immediate
preparation for the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally, gaining the Berkshire County Council
GRX 555D registration 31 December.
The 12 pages of detailed workshop notes by works mechanics J Evans and D Hart in the history file list the extraordinary amount of work carried out to prepare a factory team Mini to Group 1 specification for the Monte include a rolling road print-out confirming 66.6bhp at 5500rpm in Group 1 form.
To comply with FIA Appendix J Group 1 regulations and be issued with the all-important FIA recognition form, a minimum of 5000 cars had to be made during a 12 month period. Few modifications were permitted, so the 1966 Monte Minis used standard three and a half inch width rims and a single fuel tank, instead of the optional four and a half inch wheels and twin tanks. Officially, only two additional lamps were allowed, although BMC opted for a pair of what were then new quartz-iodine bulbed fog lamps with quartz-iodine single filament in the normal headlamps, dipping being achieved either by switching from headlights to fogs or by switching the current to the main headlamp beams through a resistance.
BMC’s three Group 1 entries, in red with their roofs now repainted white, were crewed by Timo Makinen/Paul Easter (GRX 555D starting from Lisbon), Aaltonen/Ambrose (GRX 55D from Athens) and Hopkirk/Liddon (GRX 5D from Warsaw). After safely completing their run-ins to the common route start point, the front-wheel Minis were in their element on ice and snow covered roads with the gruelling 900 miles mountain circuit including 6 special stages to be completed within 24 hours. The trio also dominated the final night’s 380 miles leg to beat the favourites Citroen and finish the rally with GRX 555D, GRX 55D and GRX5D occupying the first three places.
Famously however, all three British cars, together with the fourth-placed Ford of Roger Clark, were then all disqualified by the French scrutineers for technical infringements, namely the method employed for dipping the headlamps. Both British press and the general public were highly critical of the controversial disqualification and the perceived to have been ‘winning’ cars, including GRX 555D, were cheered onto the stage of the London Palladium live on peak time TV.
Sir Patrick Hennessy, President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders voiced the national mood in the Times of 22 January of that year - “the outstanding performance of these British cars will have made its mark on public opinion all over the world. This year’s event will surely go down in history as a Monte Carlo Rally fiasco.”
Stuart Turner, BMC Competition Manager at that time, has always maintained that the disqualification of GRX 555D generated far more publicity than the three Monte wins achieved by team cars. Whilst for the Autosport March 30 1989 feature ‘The Race of My Life’, Timo Makinen singled out his 1966 Monte drive in GRX (his first on pace notes that were regularly updated by ice note crews during the event) as his choice for being “the most interesting – and certainly controversial – event that I ever took part in” and, had it not been for the disqualification, the 1965 Monte winner would have been the only member of the BMC Team to win the event twice.
Following the Monte, the now world infamous Mini became the recce car for Rauno Aaltonen/Henry Liddon on the Tulip and Paddy Hopkirk/Ron Crellin on the Acropolis before being extensively refurbished at Abingdon by technician G Wiffen to Group 2 specification for a Polish Rally entry for 1965 event winners Aaltonen and Liddon , though non-finishers in 1966. An additional 12-page document on file details the extensive work carried out and a rolling road test of 86.2bhp at 7000rpm being recorded in full Group 2 1293cc S form. Whilst still on the Competition Department strength, GRX 555D was employed by the same crew to recce the 1966 Alpine and 1967 Monte.
Original log books confirm first ownership by both the MG Car Company and then the BMC Motor Corporation MG Car Division, followed by registered changes of ownership to Terence Michael Brown in Staffordshire, Trevor Carter and leading collector Dennis Carter, both of Leicestershire, followed by the last and late Somerset owner whose acquisition dates from 12 January 1976 and who is also recorded by the DVLA as registered keeper in a latest-style V5C registration document.
Sadly, restoration has been interrupted and this, arguably the most celebrated of all works Minis, which has been driven by three of the most successful rally drivers in the world, is being offered in part-dismantled state and should be regarded as a work in progress project. Potential buyers are therefore strongly advised to satisfy themselves of what components are present (a list will be displayed on the vehicle during viewing), to assess the current condition of those components and to determine what items may require sourcing to complete the revival of this historically significant 1960s motor sporting icon.
During preparation for the 1966 Polish Rally, GRX 555D, which had been intended for Aaltonen/Liddon, was assigned instead to Makinen/ Easter who went on to dominate the rally only to lose first place by a breakdown in the organisers' timing equipment demoting them to second behind the GRX 309D team car of Fall/Krauklis. Whilst still on the Competition Department strength, GRX 555D was later employed by Aaltonen/Liddon to recce the 1966 Alpine and 1967 Monte events. We are indebted to 1966 Monte Carlo Rally co-driver Paul Easter, who will be attending the sale, for bringing this additional information to our attention.
Da oggi fa parte delle Mini iscritte al Nostro Club, acquistata dal Socio-Amico Paul Lips, per la modica somma di £££££...
(nu te diggu)
e tutti i suoi pezzi... e che pezzi!!
Solo oggi 8 Settembre 2013 decido di scrivere queste righe. A quasi un anno dalla scomparsa di Paul sono cambiate molte cose e alcune delle sue vetture hanno passato mano ma sono andate in buone mani.
GRX555D è ora proprietà di Paolo Bozza, per gli Amici Megaboz.
Aggiornato Settembre 2013