Monte Carlo Classic Rally starts in Glasgow

Preparations for the event got under way on Friday

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A convoy of about 100 classic cars has set off from Glasgow at the start of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally.

A crowd of about 15,000 people turned out at the People's Palace to wave off the procession, which was led by a 1953 Australian Holden.

The cars will pass through Kilmarnock and Dumfries before heading to Monte Carlo via Dover.

Glasgow is one of four host cities for the event, along with Barcelona, Reims and Copenhagen.

Cars including Lancias, Triumph, Porsches and Minis were among the vehicles due to take part, with competitors from as far afield as Australia, the Czech Republic, Malta and France leaving at one minute intervals from 14:00.

They were led off the start by 83-year-old Tommy Bryce, who completed the rally in 1954, in a course car.

The 2,000 mile route will see the convoy pass through the McLennan Arch at the north west entrance of Glasgow before departing the city, heading to Kilmarnock then Dumfries before crossing the border and aiming towards the official first check point of Barnby Moor.

Start of the 2013 Monte Carlo rally A crowd of about 15,000 gathered to cheer cars leaving the start ramp

The cars will reach Dover, cross the Channel and enter Calais. From Calais they will drive to the start of the classification legs at Valence.

From there they will take part in the famous concentration runs in the snow of the Alps before emerging into the sunshine of the Riviera and Monte Carlo late next week, barring mechanical mishaps.

Only about 40 of the Glasgow cars are attempting to complete the full route, with the remainder competing in set stages of the rally in support events.

Competitor Rick Pearson, a Zurich-based fund manager, said: "For us, the Scottish start tops everything. We had a great time last year and we knew we wanted to come back."

The day's festivities began with a display of cars in Buchanan Street on Saturday morning.

Glasgow previously served as a starting venue for racers from 1949 until 1973.

Chief organiser Douglas Anderson said the day and the send-off had exceeded all of his expectations.

He added: "Once again, the people of Glasgow have taken this event to its heart. We had 9,000 people in 2011, we thought we'd get 12,000 this time and we've got over 15,000. It's amazing. The spectators were lined up over an hour before the start.

"We even managed to organise the weather for them."

Richard Bartniczek sits in his car with a map Competitors face a gruelling 2,000 drive to the south of France

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Council's marketing bureau, said: "I think we have an Olympic and Commonwealth Games effect at the moment. We know that the events taking place in Glasgow are growing between 10% and 20% and I think that will be the same with the rally.

"I think that people that take part in the rally are a little bit different, a little bit special and they are a little bit eccentric, doing something that most of us would love to do. It is a great event with excellent people and magnificent cars.

"It is great to see the hundreds of international visitors and competitors in the city for the occasion, which generates significant benefits for Glasgow's economy and supports our city's reputation for hosting major international events."

The rally was created by Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1911 and initially featured 23 cars starting from six different European cities.

Only 16 completed it, with Henri Rougier winning in a Turcat-Mery.

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