Hundreds flock to Banbury for the Monte Carlo Rally event

Competitors gather before heading to DoverCompetitors gather before heading to Dover
Competitors gather before heading to Dover
People from all over the region descended on Banbury town centre today, as rare, very rare and historic cars filled the streets as the Monte Carlo Rally Historique visited for the third consecutive year.

Competitors made the stop off for refreshments and a well earned break before departing around 1.30pm for Dover.

The event, ran in cooperation with Banbury Town Council, has proved a big hit since the rally returned to Banbury after a 52 year absence in 2018.

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Proud owners displayed their valued and often rare vintage vehicles in the Market Square and outside the town hall.

A 1913 Darracq V LuxeA 1913 Darracq V Luxe
A 1913 Darracq V Luxe

Vehicles on display this year included 1976 Jensen GT, one of only 54 in the UK, an eight seater Volvo 740 limousine, one of just three built for the UK market and a 1913 Darracq V Luxe sporting a 3 litre 16hp engine.

Town councillor and Rootes Archive Centre trustee, Nick Harrison, said: “It’s brilliant, its more than brilliant. It’s bringing people into the town.

People from Oxford, Birmingham, Stratford, it’s a big draw, it gets better each year.”

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Only 13 competitors remained in this years rally who rolled into town from 11.30am.

Nuala Dowie and Alek Krstenic arrived in their homage to the great days of Triumph and drivers Jean Jacque Thuner and John Gretener, a Triumph Spitfire 4.

Nuala said: “Its all gone reasonably well so far. We’re driving a tribute vehicle I suppose, to what I think were the best rally drivers for Triumph, back in the day.

“Because Jean Jacque Thuner and John Gretener were Swiss they didn’t get the recognition they deserve. Jean Jacque Thuner died last year so this is my tribute to him. We tried to recreate the car he used on the 1965 Monte Carlo”

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It was Nuala’s first time competing in the Monte Carlo Rally although she is no stranger to long distance driving.

“Triumph, every other year, do a reliability trial, so we do the 2,000 miles around Britain. I’ve been interested in this (Monte Carlo) as this car has done the heritage runs.

“Last year I came done from John ‘O Groats to Aberdeen to Glasgow to Drumfires and I thought if I can get a co-driver I’ll do the Monte Carlo,” said Nuala.

In addition to the many vehicles on display there was live music, trade stands and refreshment vendors.

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Banbury mayor, Cllr John Colegrave, said: “It’s fantastic to see all these cars come in and I take my hat off to good organisation.

“This is what Banbury has to do more of. If we are going to combat shop closures we’ve got to increase the footfall in the town and we need to get more events and activities in the Market Place.

“This has grown every year and we have no end of folks here spending a bit in the coffee shops and such like. We need to do more of it.”

In addition to his mayoral duties, Cllr Colegrave, along with Cherwell District Council chair Cllr David Hughes were selected to see the competitors off from the purpose built ramp outside the town hall.

“Wave the flag and get out of the way quick,” added the mayor.