Challenging Start To Our Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

After our start in the 2016 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique in the German town of Bad Homburg things were going quite well for us.  The car seemed to running fine and traffic along the rally route was moving along well.  The situation then began a turn for the worse.  After about 70 kilometers had been traveled the engine of the Fiat 2300S Abarth began to sputter like it was starving for fuel.  After about a minute of sputtering the car would seem to return to good working order.  This cycle happened about 4 times.  Then things got even worse at a distance of 91 kilometeres from Bad Homburg.  There was a bad accident on A63 that brought the traffic to a standstill.  We were running ahead of schedule by 44 minutes when we came to a stop, but that early time eventually became a deficient while we progressed only about 400 metres.

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The First Day Had Some Serious Challenges For Us

The car’s performance deteriorated while we were caught in traffic.  We decided to leave A63 at the first opportunity to avoid a complete breadown of the car on A63 with help hard to get.  Once we were able to find an exit we went to a Bosch dealer who advised us that an auto parts store in Kaiserslautern had the part that we needed.  We then headed to Kaiserslautern via secondary roads as the main road was still blocked and we also wanted to be in a better position to get help should we need it.  We arrived at the auto parts store in Kaiserslautern in time to get the new fuel pump.  But it was about 5:00PM on Friday night so getting the part installed by a mechanic’s business became the next problem to solve.

As we were discussing how we would get the fuel pump installed an employee from a nearby repair shop came into the auto parts store to pick up some parts.  He overheard the fuel pump installation problem discussion and suggested that we bring the car over to the shop were he worked and that the mechanics in his shop could replace the fuel pump right away.  I was skeptical that the parts pickup guy could commit his shop to installing the fuel pump right away, but we had no other plan.  Full of hope, we jumped in the car and followed the parts guys back to his nearby shop.  The parts pick up fellow was good to his word and our car was driven right into the middle of the shop floor and the mechanics gave our car their complete attention.


Mechanics In Kaiserslautern Working On Replacing The Fuel Pump

It was really satisfying to see how the mechanics in this shop all worked together to get us out and on the road as soon as possible.  They had the new fuel pump installed in record time.  I regret that I don’t recall the name of the shop as they certainly deserved to be mentioned.


Laying Of Hands On The Engine By The Mechanics

When the fuel pump got repaired we were about 1-1/2 hours behind schedule.  We then took off with some vigor to recover the lost time on our way to the control at Langres.  The Fiat 2300S Abarth was performing much better indicating that the old fuel pump had not been delivering enough fuel to the engine.  Through a generous application of the fuel pedal, Dan was able to recover the lost time and we checked into the Langres control on time at 11:03 pm.  We then drove through the rest of the night through the French countryside on roads that had no snow, but were foggy in many places.   There were several passage controls along the way to make sure that we were following the designated route.  Eventually we checked into the Beach Hotel control in Monte Carlo at 3:33 pm the next day.  This had been a long day as we had been on the road for over 26 hours.  I was especially tired due to the travel from the USA the day before and associated jet lag.  We went to the Trippy installation location and then on to parc ferme at the Monte Carlo harbor area.


View From My Room At The Fairmont Hotel

I was very tired after we got to parc ferme and got out of the car.  In fact, I fell asleep in a car during the ride to the hotel.  When I got in my hotel room I opened the curtains and looked out the window.  I was awestruck when just out my window was one of the most well-known corners in all of racing – the Grand Hotel Hairpin on the Monte Carlo Grand Prix race track.

Look at the picture below from the 1933 Monte Carlo Grand Prix and compare it to today’s photo above.  The picture below shows the great Tazio Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo leading his great rival, Achille Varzi, in a Bugatti through this same corner over 80 years ago.  Looking out my hotel window reminded me of how much automotive history has taken place in Monte Carlo.

Monaco 1933

Nuvolari In An Alfa Romeo Leads Varzi In A Bugatti In The 1933 Monaco Grand Prix

There was a party that night at the Fairmont Hotel where I was staying, but I missed great deal of it as I had fallen asleep when I laid down for a moment on my hotel bed.  Dan woke me up and I joined the party late a little late.  The initial scores from the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique were posted and we were disappointed in our scores from the first regularity stage.  As a result we sought out the advice of Jens Gandrup who gave us the advantage of his many years competing in this rally.


The Fiat 2300S Abarth In Monte Carlo After The First Long Day Of The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

In the morning, we went to parc ferme and I was really able to see Monte Carlo for the first time.  The parc ferme area was along the harbor and the view of the city was very impressive, especially the size and number of the yachts tied up in the Monte Carlo harbor.


Some Of The Large Yachts In the Monte Carlo Harbor

One of the entries that I was interested in was the Ex-Rootes Group Sunbeam Tiger entered by Jeremy Holden with Angelica Fuentes as the navigator. I had been interested in this car as they are using one of the new GaugePilot navigation units.   They had selected Reims as their starting city.  This is a very impressive car with its Ford V8 power.


Jeremy Holden/Angelica Fuentes Crewed This Sunbeam Tiger

This car has a distinguished rally history as part of the Rootes Works Team.  This Sunbeam Tiger made its debut at the 1964 Geneva Rally where ‘Tiny’ Lewis and Barry Hughes took it to victory.  It was driven by Maurice Gatsonides in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally where unfortunately “Gatso” had to withdraw due to a bleeding ulcer after three days of tough driving through the snow.  The following year Rootes Works driver Peter Harper drove this Sunbeam Tiger in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally.

Jeremy Holden Sunbeam Tiger (2)

Jeremy Holden’s Sunbeam Tiger On Display After The 1965 Monte Carlo Rally

One of the teams that gave us some advice on the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique was the Swedish team of Ingemar Bjerkborn and Soren Johansson in their 1960 MGA.  These were great guys and the rally-prepared MGA coupe was a fine looking rally car.


The 1960 MGA Entry Of Swedes Ingemar Bjerkborn/Soren Johansson

We felt pretty good heading out for the second day of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.  There were 4 Regularity Stages scheduled for the second day – two in first half of the day to a control in Sisteron, then two in the second half ending with a control in St.-Nazaire-En-Royans.   During the day we experimented with several approaches to timing while on the Regularity Stages.  From the control at St.-Nazaire-En-Royans we had a short transit to Valence where we spent the night.  When we got to Valence, we quickly checked the scores and concluded what our best timing approach for the rest of the rally would be.

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Starting Out From Monte Carlo For The Second Day Of The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

When we got to our hotel in Valence the dining facilities were winding down, offering only a cheese buffet.  Dan was quite persuasive convincing the cook to prepare a steak dinner for the two of us.  The steaks that were cooked for us were quite good and along with a bottle of wine it was a great way to enjoy the meal.  I then returned to my hotel room and got a very good night’s sleep to be ready for the next day.

If you have any questions or comments ether leave a comment below or privately contact me by email at:  shanna12 at comcast dot net


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