The Monte Carlo rally has ended in uproar over the disqualification of the British cars expected to fill the first four places. The first four to cross the finishing line were Timo Makinen (Finland) driving a British Motor Corporation Mini-Cooper, followed by Roger Clark (Ford Lotus Cortina), and Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk, both also driving BMC Minis.
But they were all ruled out of the prizes – with six other British cars for alleged infringements of complex regulations about the way their headlights dipped. The official winner was announced as Pauli Toivonen, a Finn who lives in Paris, driving a Citroen.
BMC and Ford have lodged protests but even if they are upheld, the reputation of the rally has been severely dented. After the race, a British official said: "This will be the end of the Monte Carlo rally. Britain is certain to withdraw."
Timo Makinen said: "None of us dreamed that the stewards would turn the results upside down – and for such a stupid reason."
This will be the end of the Monte Carlo rally
British team spokesman
The British cars were disqualified because they used non-dipping single filament quartz iodine bulbs in their headlamps, in place of the standard double filament dipping glass bulbs, which are fitted to the series production version of each model sold to the public.
According to new rules introduced at the end of last year, any car entering the rally must come off a standard production line, with at least 5,000 cars being built to a similar specification. The British cars were equipped with standard headlamps – but the only way of dipping them was to switch to non-standard fog lamps.
Richard Shepherd, from the BMC, said: "There is nothing new about the lights at all. They have been used in our rallies, on rally cars, including the Monte for two years now and we’ve had no trouble at all in the past."
The confusion arose because the rally organisers initially said the race would be run under the old rules – and only announced the switch after entries had been accepted. The BMC says it spent £10,000 on preparing for the Monte Carlo rally – and is now considering withdrawing from next year’s race.
The British teams’ protest to the race organisers was rejected. They boycotted the official farewell dinner held at the International Sporting Club. Prince Rainier of Monaco showed his anger at the disqualifications by leaving the rally before attending the prize-giving which he had always done in previous years.
On 13 October 1966, the supreme motor racing and rally tribunal upheld the disqualifications. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile in Paris said the iodine quartz headlights fitted on the British cars were not standard.
The Citroen declared the official winner, which had similar lamps, was approved because the bulbs were fitted as standard on some models.
Pauli Toivonen never drove for Citroen again. In 1986, his son Henri won the Monte Carlo rally.
Text from BBCs OnThisDay