DKW in Monte Carlo Rally
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Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique
by Morten Finborud
Almost from childhood, the Rallye Monte-Carlo has been "THE RALLY",
an almost mythical event starting in snow and cold weather and ending up
in the subtropical climate of Monaco. Starting from Oslo in Norway,
driving all way through Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France, and
finally ending up by the deep blue sea of the Mediterranean. I guess it
started when I was told that my granddad participated in the Monte-
Carlo back in 53 and 54, first time with an IFA F9, the last time with a
DKW F91. The story about him receiving the Cup for the best of the
Oslo starters from Prince Rainier has of course been a great driving
force for me.
Let's jump about 45 years in time to 1999. This year, the Automobile
Club of Monaco (ACM) ran their 2nd edition of the Rallye Monte-Carlo
Historique. ACM is the club which also runs the modern Rallye Monte-
Carlo and the famous Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. Quite a few
Norwegian crews participated, among them my previous spouse as a
co-driver. The plan was to get my DKW ready for the next year, and
also for my spouse to get some experience from the rally. As these
rallies are quite long, up to 3000 km, everything has to work perfect
all the way, the maps have to be ready and well QC'ed, and the crew
has to be working well together. There is not much time to do repairs
during the run or get back on the correct road if you do the wrong
turn. The rally consists of long transport stages with open time controls,
so you know when to be at a certain place. The problem is only to get
there in time. Usually this works OK, as long as you don't take too
long brakes for fixing the car, filling petrol etc.... At some stages you
can get into the time control only 3 minutes early after driving like hell
for the last 100 km. This is however not the tricky part. The real com-
petition is on the regularity stages. A regularity stage is a
on the map where you have to drive at a certain speed all the way
through. The speed is usually just below 50 km/h, that might not
seem much, but depending on road condition, it might be very much.
The organisers put out several secret time controls along the route
and note the time where you pass. The ideal time to pass a secret
control is of course the time given by the distance from the start of
the regularity and the speed you have been told to follow. Penalty
points are given for each tenth of a second you are off the ideal time.
This is why a trip-counter and a watch is the most important
instrument on board a car partitioning in such a rally. The co-driver
has to give you feedback from a time schedule as you drive and at
the same time keep an eye on the map to keep the correct route.
And you have to watch out for other vehicles, as the roads are open
and of course keep the wheel on track.
at the start of the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique
Lets talk about the car for a while. I've been driving with my Auto
Union 1000S from 1961, during several national challenge rallies
from the mid 90. With a lightly tuned engine, modern interior
equipment like rally chairs, 4point safety belts and an electronic
trip-counter, we had done quite well with several class victories.
The most important change I had to do for the Monte Carlo rally
was to modify the trip-counters. As only mechanical counters was
allowed, I had to try to find some old Haldas I could fit. They do
not grow on threes anymore, and they are quite expensive, but far
the best among the mechanical brands. Another problem in doing
regularity runs on slippery roads, is that your trip-counter fitted
to the speedometer wire will show wrong, since the driving wheels
will slip. I therefore had to fit a counter on the rear wheel, as they
usually just turn, no matter how slippery the road surface is. Luckily,
the AU1000 and F93 series of DKW have a rear axle which easily
accommodate such a fitting, as the turning axle is accessible from
the inside. This was how my car was prepared for my first Rallye
We applied early in September 1999, got the permission from ACM
in early December and were ready to start in late January 2000. Not
everybody that applies for partitioning is allowed to start, the car has
to conform to the FIVA standards and they also has a maximum limit
of allowed cars. I guess the selection committee has quite a job to
select the cars. Rare cars like DKW are always welcome; as a matter
of fact my DKW has been the only one during the three years I've
We, among 26 others, had selected to start from Oslo, of course.
Other choices where also available, there where participants starting
from Reims in France, Turin in Italy, Bad Homburg in Germany and
Barcelona in Spain. A total of 240 cars where on the starting list. We
had the longest distance to drive, a total of 3100 km before we could
start the long journey back home...
The 1961 Auto
coped very well though
the winding roads
We started Friday at 0930 from the centre of Oslo. First leg was
from Oslo to Gothenburg in Sweden, a distance of 300 km. Lunch
break and then onwards through Sweden, ferry across to Denmark,
through Denmark, ferry across to Germany and a 100km further
until reaching TC (time control) just south of Hamburg around
03:00 Saturday morning. That day we did a good 1000 km. A
good night sleep and restart at 11:15 the day after. Snow has fallen
during the night, and the Autobahn is a mess of drifting snow and
sleet and heavy traffic. We are quite soon experiencing problems.
The carburettor is freezing. In the just above zero degree weather,
a lot of humidity in the air and bad preheating, this turns out to be
a serious problem. I had to stop several times at the Autobahn to
clean the carb, I picked out ice enough to use in a glass of whiskey
at some friendlier occasion.... But we reached the TC in Bad Hom-
burg in due time, had a bite to eat and could go on though Germany.
Weather got better, no more sleet, and we also fixed the preheating
so the car went much better. Passing into France around midnight
and reaching the TC in Belfort. Now we where driving together
with the starters from Reims and Bad Homburg in the direction of
Vals Les Bains in France where all the participants should gather.
Heavy snow and no road cleaning across the Jura Mountains, but
the DKW is excellent in those conditions. No problem. Vals reached
in due time some time around Sunday noon after driving the whole
night through at small and difficult roads. And then we where ready
for our first regularity: Around 40 km of precise driving on slippery
hairpin roads. Average speed is just below 50 km/h. This first
regularity was also a qualifying test for the rest of the rally, the
starting order for the rest of the rally will be given by the result of
this test. And we did very well! After finishing the day at about
16:00, resting a bit and finding the results, we had a decent 12th
place! Remember there where 240 starters, and most of them with
much more powerful cars than us. We slept well that night.
Monday morning, snow has fallen again during the night, and it is
cold in the mountains of Ardéche. We started early as no. 12. First
regularity was partly the same as the qualifying one last day, but with
a different ending. And at the new road, going downwards on a very
slippery hairpin road, we did it. Trying to keep our time, about 30
seconds behind, and seeing a Porsche in the rear mirror, I tried to
speed up a little, just before the more than 90 degrees turn with the
road slanting outwards. You can guess what happened. The car
went almost straight forward, no chance keeping it on the road. The
ditches on these roads are quite deep; this one was about 100m....
So I aimed for a branch of trees standing just down the ditch. And
that saved us, I guess. The car halted with most of its length down
the ditch, but it stopped, and we could get out safely. But to get it
back on the road without help was out of the question. So there
we stood, trying to keep the speed down on all the 228 other
participants passing us, knowing if we had another car off the road
at that place, he would surely push my car all the way down. That
was a long time to wait, almost 4 hours, and at the same time knowing
the rally was over for us. After all the other had passed, we got help
from a Range Rover running as a service crew for a Spanish participant.
The car was undamaged, and we rejoined the rally and finished it, but
the final place was nothing to boast about.
The 1961 Auto
coped very well though
the winding roads
This was the first time, however, and I was a novice. There are a lot
of things that have to be learned and experienced in this game. One
of the things I learned is that winter tyres with removed studs are not
very good on icy roads with snow on. The next time I would bring at
least two studded tyres with me. The problem with studded tyres is
that they are prohibited in Germany, while allowed in France. Another
problem I experienced was braking. They got quite hot and faded a lot.
It is a bit scary going downhill on a hairpin road and brakes fading
away.... I had to find a set of disc brakes to fit on my AU1000.
The 1962 De Luxe model has this as a standard, and that model was
introduced in September 1961. I could therefore keep within my
class, cars made before 1962, and still have decent brakes! I got
hold of a wreck, restored the braking system and fitted that to my car.
I also worked a lot on the preheating system, in order to get rid of the
And so we where ready for the next rally, application sent and
admission received, in fact with a compliment that it was nice to see
such cars in the rally. A lot of Porsches, Minis and other common
cars where rejected.... This year more than 260 cars where admitted,
but we where still the only DKW. The only other car with 4 rings in
the front was an Audi Super 90 from 1967 driven by a French crew,
but we didn't experience any competition from them.
This year we also started from Oslo, but in agreement with ACM, we
where allowed to use the ferry from Oslo to Kiel, saving us a good 900
km of driving. We where still the ones with most mileage behind us
when finally at the finishing line. No problems this time through Germany,
as soon as we reached the French border, I changed to studded tyres
on my front wheels, just to be prepared for bad road conditions. Driving
also this time through France towards Vals Les Bains, but following a
different route from last year. No problems, times kept easily and
Vals reached. Restart from Vals in order to qualify for the rest of the
rally, this time two regularities had to be done. And then it started to
snow, quite heavily. Wet snow 20 cm deep, no cleaning, narrow roads
and Frenchmen on summer tyres skidding in opposite direction.... Not
fun at all. Also going steep uphill in such conditions with a light car and
front wheel drive is difficult. We had no chance to keep up our speed.
But we kept on the road and did the best we could. After one of the
regularities about 25 km long, we had a difference of 1500 m on the
two trip counters, meaning we had been slipping for 1500 meters!
After completing these two regularities we finished as no 43, not bad
at all. There where a total of 14 regularities, so we had a fair chance
of climbing on the list.
The 1961 Auto
also has to deal with the snow
And so we did. After a good night sleep, and restart as no 43, we did
the same distance where we nearly finished ourselves last year, this
time taking our time around that bend and staying on the road. And
the rest of the regularities that day went well. After completing Monday
driving, we had climbed to place 23! Tuesday morning 5:30, restart
after another night sleep in Vals and we where heading for Monaco.
Four regularities to cover and around 500 km to drive, before
crossing the finishing line in Monte Carlo for the first time during
this event. When you cross the line the first time, you are said to have
completed the rally, but the finale in the Mediterranean Alps is still to
go. We got our gifts and souvenirs and could have some hours rest on
one of the 5 star hotels in Monaco. That stay is in fact included in the
starting fee! Tuesday evening, a welcome buffet is served at the port
of Monaco, just where the income and restart of the rally takes place.
We had now climbed to a decent 17th place on the list! We where
leading our class with a good margin and where of course hoping to
bring home a cup. The class is a combination of engine size and age,
we where below 1300 ccm and older than 1962, also the smallest and
oldest class. Competitors where typically Minors, Fiats, Alfas and
Renaults. We where also hoping for a category cup; that is all the cars
older than 1962, but where at the moment only the second best.
The finale is driven through the night, with a start around 9 in the evening.
Length is about 400 km and there are 4 regularities to cover. Two of
them we had done the last year, so the roads where familiar. The last
two we hadn't done yet. Just before start, we got the message that the
last regularity that day was cancelled due to a landslide. The finale is
though. Time between TC's is marginal, and you have to drive like hell
all the time. Road conditions are a little slippery, but quite OK with
studded tyres. First regularity across Col de la Madone goes well, the
next one across Col de Turini not so well, it is steep, with a lot of
hairpin bends and we climbed up to an altitude of 1700 m. The DKW
just wasn't powerful enough to keep up the speed. A lot of time could
be taken in though, going downwards on the other side. Praise to my
disc brakes! They smoked so much when passing the end of regularity
post, that the officers had to check if I was on fire! No problem, I had
racing pads, and they just got better the hotter they got! On the last one
we also had a problem keeping up the speed, and besides I thought I
heard a noise that shouldn't be there. Taking in account that we where
heading for an almost sure cup, we calmed down in order to be sure
to finish. And so we did. Running over the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo
ramp at the port of Monaco is just great! We got in and placed the
car in parc fermé and downed some beers at 0300 in the morning
together with the other Norwegian crews. The results wouldn't be
shown before the day after, so a good night sleep at Hotel de Paris
was very welcome. And we did well that night. We dropped down
to place 20 overall, but that is still very good, when you know there
are 260 other participants wanting to do the same! The gala evening
and price giving ceremony later that evening was of course very well
with champagne served from magnum bottles in the cups we won!
We didn't take the category cups, we where still 2nd, but the class
cups where ours with a good margin.
Changing a wheel on our
And so I had to start planning for the next rally in 2002. My spouse
and I split during this time, so I also had to start looking for another
co-driver. I got a tip of a fellow that had done some rallying in the
sixties and I contacted him and made a deal. We did some national
challenge runs together during the 2001 season, with quite OK results.
I also did a rebuild of the engine, changed the crankshaft to one with
new bearings and a special straightening with only 1.5/100 mm
throw. Also some minor modifications where made to the inlet port
to smoothen it down and to the exhaust system to let it flow better.
And that made a quicker car, I can tell you!
This time I was rid of driving longer than the rest, so we decided to
start from Turin. That was a good choice. We had the car trans-
ported down together with another Norwegian crew starting from
Turin. Turin is a city of car-lovers. The place where we started
was crowded with more than 3000 people during the start, and we
drove through a mad and cheering crowd! I gave it the gun in 2nd
gear, and with my modified exhaust muffler, it made a sound that
made them even more cheering!
Even though it is much shorter to drive from Turin to Monaco, we
don't drive the direct route. So we had to go all the night through
from Saturday to Sunday, to end up in Vals les Bains again, this
time some 800 km. The transports had very tight time schedules,
so we just had to go for it all the time. That tires you! What wakens
you is all the cheering people standing out in the middle of the night
just to cast a glimpse of old rally cars passing through a village.
At one TC reached around 08 in the morning, we drove down to
the city hall on red carpet, the children had lined up, and we got
flower and wine from them. But it is easy to make mistakes after
a whole night of driving. Just before Vals, the organisers had put
up a trip calibration distance, in order for the participants to calibrate
their trip counter to the standard used in this rally. This is important
work, as a mechanical trip cannot be adjusted to the meter, but has
accuracy between 0 and 0.4%. That error can give a lot of seconds
after some km. What we do is to compare and use a deviation factor.
When we know how wrong our trip is, we can calculate the correct
time or speed. Here we did wrong. By some odd reason, we got the
rear wheel trip factor wrong without noticing.
at a check point in the snow
After reaching Vals, we had to go out again immediately to finish
3 qualifying regularities. Road conditions where nice, dry roads and
sun shining. No use for studded tyres this time, but they where there,
this time on all 4 wheels. This time we didn't have to bother about
Germany, and Italy allows for studded tyres. This would be a rally
where the 1/10 seconds would be counting. We kept a good pace,
keeping it to the second all the way on all the three qualifying
regularities. Thought we.... So when we reached TC and end of
leg, and got the penalty points we didn't almost believe it. Several
seconds off schedule, up to 20 seconds at the most! That was bad -
really bad especially in such easy conditions. When the result list
came up late Sunday evening, we had an 83rd place. Yet it was
316 participants this year, but still, I felt bad. So what I now had
to do was to backtrack the error we made when we calculated our
trips. Looking at our penalties, knowing we thought we where
between 0 and 1 seconds off all the time and comparing to the
organisers list of secret control posts that day, it was possible to
calculate the nearly correct factor for our trip counter.
Restart next day, as no. 83, at a 400 km leg to Gap. Four regu-
larities should be completed during the day. Everything works
the weather is excellent, almost spring-like temperatures, and it is
therefore difficult to climb on the list. We do however climb to 50,
and the difference towards the top decrease. We are again no 1
in class, and around 30 seconds late of the category. We still had
hopes for some bad weather and a lot of icy roads so we could
beat the shit out of all the French and Italians driving on summer
tyres in front of us.
That didn't happen. On the leg from Gap to Monaco, the sun still
shined, and even though we had a regularity with some ice in the
middle, most of the crews handled it quite well. We still climbed a
bit on the list, to no. 40, but still around 30 seconds late for the
category cup, which was my goal this time. So again we reached
Monaco, and could check into the Hotel de Paris. This time using
some time in the seawater pool and getting some massage from one
of the capable French masseuses while getting ready for the finale.
skidded down an embankment
And the evening came, and we where ready to start at 21:04. The
nightly leg was 280 km this time and had 4 regularities. We headed
off, and reached the first regularity start in due time, that is 4 minutes
early. Margins are tight during the finale. Soon after regularity start,
we met the fog. Almost as thick as the bean-soup they served before
the start of the finale. It was nearly impossible to see more than a car
length ahead, and of course, we had to slow down. The ditches are
quite deep at this road, very low security rails (some stones...) and
300m straight down... My co driver calms me down, however with
the words: Remember, everybody will have the same problems. And
then it goes better. I keep an aim on the white painted road stones that
lights up a bit ahead of where I can spot the road itself, and drives as
fast as I dare. And finally, the fog lifts and we can go fast to reach our
time again. And we do! We where the 10th best crew on this stage,
and a lot of crews almost got lost in the fog. In the aftertime, when I
can sit back and look at the lists from the stages, I can tell that we
where suddenly among the 20 best after this stage. I didn't know then,
but we felt good and did our best. Next regularity was the famous
Col de Turini, the same as they do in the modern Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Last year, I had huge problems in keeping my speed up. This time I
calculated on this and put myself some 20 seconds in front of schedule
before starting the real climb. Previously, the secret control has been
placed around a small village halfway to the top, and 20 seconds in
front at the bottom should make around 0 in this place. But when we
reached the village of Moulinet, we where still 20 seconds in front!
I had to calm down, to get through the village on time, but no control
posts could be spotted. They usually are easy to see just when you
pass them. The only solution was to go like hell further on towards
the top, in order not to loose too much time and keep our average
speed of 49 km/h. And so we did! The DKW has never gone better.
Climbing steep uphill all the way on 2nd gear and reaching 70 km/h
before slowing down to 30, going through a 180 degree hairpin bend
and then speed up like hell to reach as fast a speed as possible before
the next bend. There are some 25 hairpins from Moulinet to the top of
Col de Turini and they come close! We reached the top just 6 seconds
late, and that was great! Going down on the other side was not any
problem; we didn't have any time to take in, and could go at the 49
km/h downwards without any trouble. We felt extremely good! Know-
ing we had done this difficult drive with a minimum of penalty points
made us maybe to high. The next stage was a difficult one, with a lot
of bends, wet and slippery road but no climbing. We did well, until
nearly the finish when we missed a turn. It took 2 minutes before
realising being on the wrong road and getting back on the correct
one, and there of course was the secret control. We felt bad. Feeling
at least the category cup sliding away, and perhaps also the class one.
Well, there was nothing to do, but to try and finish as best as we
could. The last regularity came up, but the spirit wasn't there anymore,
so we didn't do this the same style as the previous ones. And again we
met the fog and this time we went for safety, by slowing down. We
finally reached Monaco and the Ramp, and got the list of penalty
points for the night. That was not pleasant reading, at least not the
last two stages. It was a grieving crew coming down to the cafe to
meet the other Norwegian and have the compulsory beer. Their first
question was of course how we had done and how many penalty
points we had. Bad, we said, and stated the number. Whereupon
we got the message back that that was not bad at all! It seemed that
a lot of crews had collected their share of penalties this night. We
where the 3rd best Norwegian crew, we could tell, but where we
were on the overall list and where our competitors in our category
were, was impossible to tell. The only solution was to down some
more beer and get pissed before turning inn in the morning.
It was all worth while when we clinched the trophies with
The wakeup call came from my family in Norway in the morning -
they had followed the whole rally on Internet with live updates
and could see long before us how we where doing. And we did it!
We fell down to 51 overall, but the class and the category was
ours! At 12 noon on Wednesday it was official, and the price
giving ceremony and gala dinner later in the evening really became
Next to the 5 first overall places in Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique,
the category is the most important. The cups are big, and also the
crew and the cars get a place in the history list of previously winners.
You can find it on Internet on www.acm.mc if you follow the links
to Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. Also the good self-feeling, know-
ing we where better than all the Porsche 356's, MGA's, Austin
Healey's and many more powerful cars than ours made before 1962,
you can live on that for many weeks after the run!
And after those weeks had gone, I started to wonder where we could
have been on the list if everything worked as it should. If we didn't
take the wrong turn the last night, if we calibrated our trip counters
correctly from start and a couple of other if's. Lets make some
calculations: Before we got wrong, we had 1362 penalty points. 650
of these where "earned" on the qualification using the wrong trip
counter. That takes us down to 712 points, which would put us 4th
totally. And the difference up to the 1st place would only be 132,
that is 13.2 seconds.... We know we had several small misses giving
us 5-6 seconds each time; they could easily have been avoided.
The three best cars overall are placed on the podium during the price
giving ceremony. That is the right place for a DKW, don't you think?
Next year there is a new rally towards Monte-Carlo...
We participate again!
We are leaving Norway today 29/01/2003, with the DKW on a trailer
towed by a modern Citroën, bound for Turin in Italy. The start will
be on Saturday, so hopefully we will have a days rest in Turin before
we head off. First leg of some 850 km is to Vals les Bains in Ardeche,
where we will start three qualifying special stages. After about 24h and
more than 1000 km, we can have a good night sleep in Valence. Restart
on Monday morning, doing 4 SS's on the way to Gap. Yet another night
in bed and restart on Tuesday bound for Monaco with 2 SS on the way.
Tuesday night we start the finale in the mountains sorrounding Monaco,
so hopefully, we will be finishing the whole event the night between
Tuesday and Wednesday.
You can keep yourself updated on the web pages for the rally, just follow
the link to the 2003 ed, and look for Live result. They are very good at
keeping the page updated during the rally, so you can follow us during the
different SS's and maybe send us some good thoughts..
DKW greetings from snowy Norway,
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