Richards makes his mark

Mo­tor­sport

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sport All The Week’s Action... - By Dan Wright

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

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