A TIGER’S TALE

Motor Sport News - - Historic Monte Carlo -

One of the star cars on this year’s His­toric Monte was the ex-works Sun­beam Tiger of Jeremy Holden and An­gel­ica Fuentes. It’s the Tiger that con­tested the Monte Carlo Rally 50 years ago in the hands of An­drew Cowan and Peter Harper (who got it stuck in a snow­drift). Now owned by sea­soned cam­paigner Holden of Holden Vin­tage and Clas­sic, it’s back on the clas­sic rally scene.

Just over 7000 Tigers were built be­tween 1964 and 1967, and seven works Tigers were used in com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing those years.

For the 2016 His­toric Monte, Jeremy’s co-driver and nav­i­ga­tor was Fuentes, well-known as Doug Mock­ett’s co-driver in their Oldsmo­bile on La Car­rera Panamer­i­cana and Chi­huahua Ex­press, where they have reg­u­larly fin­ished on the podium.

As it turned out, the Tiger’s clutch failed with just 92 miles to go and Fuentes’ de­but on the event was a steep learn­ing curve for such a highly ex­pe­ri­enced nav­i­ga­tor. She takes up the story:

“In my 30 years of mo­tor rac­ing it’s one of the tough­est events I have ever taken part in, and that in­cludes La Car­rera and Chi­huahua. Peo­ple take for granted that you must be go­ing on a tour to Monte Carlo, and it sounds glam­orous, but it is hard work from start to fin­ish. The first night out of Reims is 20 hours in a car, non-stop. All those lit­tle roads are quite amaz­ing, but if you miss a turn you are com­pletely lost, so I was com­pletely spot on with ev­ery road we needed to take.

“On the Turini Reg­u­lar­ity we passed 15 cars that were crashed into walls, the rock face, a bridge, and it’s very hard to mon­i­tor your progress in th­ese cir­cum­stances. It was re­ally good fun, but you have to keep an eye on the di­ver­sions, and the Reg­u­lar­i­ties are not closed roads so you can eas­ily miss the cor­rect route and there’s no mar­shal to di­rect you. If you take a wrong turn you com­pletely miss the stage.

“It’s amaz­ing how quickly the penalty points ac­cu­mu­late: on the first day we were three sec­onds late at a check­point, and sud­denly we had 30 penal­ties, and that sounds noth­ing, but at the end of the day we were 198th! And then on the se­cond day they changed our tar­get av­er­age so I had to re­cal­cu­late the for­mula, and we ended up los­ing three min­utes. If you have any me­chan­i­cal de­lays you have to start go­ing faster to catch up. I was glad we had proper belts and rollcage, be­cause if you have an in­ci­dent a 45km/h (28mph) av­er­age be­comes a 90km/h (56mph) to make up time.

“We didn’t have any snow at all, but the worst one was the last stage where it was foggy and rain­ing. The car was ab­so­lutely per­fect un­til the clutch broke; sus­pen­sion per­fectly set up for the hair­pins, and pow­er­ful, so we could push when we needed to, and the en­gine breath­ing wasn’t af­fected by al­ti­tude. The spectators were amazed by the car, and I had to tell them it was OK that the bon­net was open to help the cool­ing. And it was the only car on the rally that had run in the orig­i­nal event.

“It was all very well or­gan­ised and I ab­so­lutely loved the ex­pe­ri­ence. And now I have a chal­lenge, to fin­ish the event, and I can’t wait to go back!”

Some­times the Tiger crew had to push to achieve the tar­gets

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