Paddy Hopkirk to spark new Mini adventure
Calling all Mini owners. Do fancy joining Paddy Hopkirk in a cavalcade from Stormont to the Titanic Quarter?
Whether your car is old or new, you will be welcome to join Hopkirk in the February 22 parade as he begins celebrations to mark his Monte Carlo Rally win in 1964.
Hopkirk will lead the cavalcade in a replica of his Monte Carlo winning Mini Cooper, starting from Stormont at 10.30am, and will travel to the Titanic Quarter via Belfast City Hall where Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir will correct a 50 year oversight.
Following his Monte win, Hopkirk was awarded the Freedom of the City but, because he was abroad, the official document wasn't presented. And never has been.
Now, 50 years on, he will drive to the City Hall to collect his scroll in the company of great motorsport names from the past including John Watson, former World rally champion Ari Vatanen, Rosemary Smith, Jimmy McRae – the man who broke his Circuit of Ireland winning record – and two other former winners, Cahal Curley and Adrian Boyd.
Gala organiser Beatty Crawford says Mini owners are coming from as far afield as the Czech Republic, USA, Mallorca, England and the Republic of Ireland to join in and expects at least 200 cars to take part, but there's room for more.
"Whether your Mini was built in the 1960s or in 2014 you will be welcome," he said. Check out the registration form at: www.paddyhopkirkgala.com.
Meanwhile, Hopkirk has been playing his part in the preparation for this year's Circuit of Ireland which, for the first time, will be part of the European championship. It has been revealed that the Lisburn Power Stage which was a popular part of the Intercontinental Challenge version of the rally in 2012 will return.
It was on the Power Stage that IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen famously lost the rally when he hit a barrier and momentarily knocked himself out.
The civic centre will again be the hub for the spectator-friendly stage on Saturday April 19.