Richards makes his mark
Bill Richards survived two hairy moments on the Monte Carlo Historique Rally to finish as the first Mini driver on the gruelling event.
The Ashford racing driver, 65, competed in the French Alps with new navigator Graham Carter.
Richards piloted his MK1 Mini Cooper on the rally and – after a week of competition – came home as first Mini in 83rd overall, finishing third-in-class.
He said: “What a great rally that was. This year we didn’t have any dramas except I made two mistakes.
“One time I turned in a little early on one of the hairpins and touched the kerb, which put us up on two wheels and my door handle was touching the floor.
“It came back down – just – and the other moment was when I went over a blind crest and the corner turned left but I went straight on.
“I put a foot over the cliff and it was a sheer drop. It was stupid but we missed that crest slightly on our pace notes. I don’t know why but it happens.”
Richards – who prepares the Mini at his Ellingham Industrial Estate base – took mechanics John Griffin and Paul Upson across the Channel.
He beat 15 other Minis on the event and put in a stellar performance on the infamous Col de Turini stage, rising 42 places after coping with the foggy conditions.
Richards added: “We always pull 20 places on the Turini but to get 42 was just unbelievable.
“The Turini stage does not take any prisoners and the car didn’t miss a beat, other than a vibration which was caused by tyres.
“I was pleased with 83rd because I can now consider myself a professional rally driver – not an amateur doing a professional rally.”
Bill Richards in his MK1 Mini Cooper during the Monte Carlo Historique Rally, with navigator Graham Carter