The Mini Cooper has been granted a final outing on this year’s Wales Rally Great Britain, which runs from November 6th-9th.
Organisers have granted one of the 90 starting places to Mini driver Neil Burgess and his co-driver Jim Holder, who will compete alongside the likes of Colin McRae and Richard Burns on the Cardiff-based event.
The rally will mark the classic single-point injection car’s swansong, as it will no longer be eligible for international rallies immediately after the event.
Burgess, a British Rally Championship class champion, is unlikely to challenge the front-runners, though, as he will run his Mini in the same specification as the car that shot to prominence when Paddy Hopkirk, winner of the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, returned to the world famous event in 1994 to commemorate his success.
“Competing on the same stages at the same time as drivers like Colin McRae and Richard Burns is like being invited to play football at Wembley during the FA Cup final ,” said Burgess. “But as they are driving cars with £350,000 of technology on them and I will be at the wheel of the oldest car out there, I don’t think they will have to worry too much! ”
The Mini’s place in folklore was then ensured when it won in Monte Carlo again in 1965 and 1967. The car also has an excellent history in Britain, winning Rally GB outright 38 years ago with Rauno Aaltonen at the wheel.
“The reaction to the Mini when I have been out competing in the British Rally Championship for the past two years has always been fantastic, so I hope that enthusiasm will bring a few people out to support the car’s final international run ,” said Burgess, whose regular co-driver, Anna McColl, will take on team management duties for the duration of the event.
- The Mini makes its mark in this event in more ways than one:
- The tallest driver (6’ 2”) and co-driver (6’ 5”) are piloting the smallest car on the rally.
- The Mini was launched 44 years ago, making it by far the oldest car on the rally.
- 2003 is the last year that this Mini, the type first rallied by Paddy Hopkirk, can be rallied at international level.
- In order to comply with modern weight regulations the Mini carries over 100kg of lead - )(in blocks painted gold!)
When not rallying Neil can be found driving many strange vehicles including the Worlds fastest sofa and a motorised four poster bed!