As is customary for the Monte Carlo Rally, the cars travelled to Monte Carlo for the special stages from five different cities. The MINI teams were handed Marrakech as their starting point, leaving them over 2,600 kilometres (1,616 miles) to cover.
“The whole atmosphere was very cordial and friendly, both with the locals in Morocco and the organisers, and among the competitors. It was a bit like The Arabian Nights,” said Rauno Aaltonen, describing the start of the event in the North African country.
“A lot of things look much the same as in the 1960s,” said Aaltonen. “Then it was all about top speed. In the Monte Historique regularity is the key, although the required 50 km/h is very difficult to achieve on some sections.”
There have also been one or two changes when it comes to the materials used by the teams – in terms of both quality and quantity.
“Up to the mid-1960s there was no limit on spikes, and I had as many as 600 spikes on a wheel,” Aaltonen continued to explain. “Plus, we had 1,200 tires ready and waiting on rims for our three competition-trim cars.”
So many would now wonder whether Aaltonen could imagine competing in another Monte one day with the new MINI WRC car. “That would be very exciting – I’d love to!” he says.