Well, it’s official – we have completed the Monte Carlo Historic Rally! It has been a long haul, with its ups and downs, super-challenging conditions and some spectacular driving through some of the most beautiful roads in the world. More than 50 cars didn’t see the finish ramp at the harbour in Monte Carlo, so for us, getting two Australian cars over the finish line with no local knowledge and being rally rookies, it was a massive achievement.
To be classified as “completed” we needed to get to the end of the seventh stage. With 4km to go we ran into more problems with, yep, you guessed it, the wheel bearings! We limped the old girl to the end where there were some serious high-fives knowing that the record books will show that we had been able to do what the original Aussie team had done back in 1953. But, unfortunately, we parked on the side of the road and that’s where we stayed, missing the rest of the day’s stages. Some creative ingenuity and some help from our fellow Aussie crew (you guys rock!) and a local service station got us back on the road and on our way through the French Alps to our next stop in Gap, France. We bunked in for a hot shower to thaw out and a good night’s sleep.
The rules allowed us to re-join the rally the next morning (not without a HUGE points penalty though), so we hit the road for Monaco. The final day consisted of two daytime stages through some insanely picturesque countryside and three night stages, covering parts of the course used by the World Rally Championship the week before. If you saw it on TV, you would know that the roads are, errrrr … confronting at the best of times, so covered in snow and ice they definitely let me know that I’m alive! Put it this way, I was downing the Red Bull because being that high up with no barriers and a sheer drop at the road’s edge, I was seriously hoping I wasn’t going to need my wings.
But, we got there and driving the car over the finish ramp at 3.30am in the morning was one of the proudest moments in my career. To know what we have achieved, setting off from Glasgow six days ago and traversing Europe in a car that our grandparents’ may have owned (and was also the oldest in the rally) was a pretty special moment. All this, knowing that we were there to pay tribute to three Australian former F1 drivers that did the same 60 years ago in the same model of FX – it is something that will stay with me forever, that’s for sure.
So now it’s time to pack the bags and head to the airport to hit our test day for the Red Bull Racing Australia in those brand new VF Holden Commodores. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel in my real office and give 2013 a red hot go! Stay tuned to www.redbullholdenracing.com because the guys are giving “Cappy” a grease and oil change when I get home to prepare for the official media launch on February 14. We’ll be posting photos on the website as it happens so make sure you enter your details and get to see the new car and livery first!
CL from Europe, over and out!
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