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Rauno Aalton, the winner of the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, was greeted with a special MINI Christmas surprise in Finland.

31 Dec 2020 | International News : Germany



He is known the world over as the 'Rally Professor', but too much theory puts a damper on the mood of even the most ardent specialist at some point. Owing to the lockdown regulations, Rauno Aaltonen had to stay at home in Finland over the past eight months.


No outings onto the rally track, no tests of strength in historic competitions, no practice training sessions instructing young learners with a passion for motor sport. Meanwhile, Aaltonen is 82-years old but the itch to floor the pedal has never really gone away.

The Classic Mini was towed up to Rovaniemi in a MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 and enclosed in a trailer emblazoned with a Classic Mini
The people at MINI had a brilliant idea for an advent gift of a very special kind. A motorised 'sleigh' on wheels was dispatched northwards - an enclosed vehicle trailer loaded with a classic Mini and towed by a MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4. 

The relationship between Aaltonen and MINI goes all the way back to 1961. At the time, the driver from Finland had just ascended to Rally Champion in Finland and he was dead set on competing in the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally.

He found absolutely the right vehicle in the classic Mini. The joint premiere came to an end with a spectacular crash, but already in January 1963, Aaltonen driving the Mini Cooper completed the Monte Carlo Rally as class winner and third in the overall placings driving.

Aaltonen wasted no time in breaking out the Classic Mini on some of his favourite Finnish back roads
But 1967 at last proved to be his year, with Rauno Aaltonen driving to his well-earned overall victory at the Monte Carlo Rally. His feat finally transformed the Mini into a rally legend and stamped its imprint on the entire sport.

In light of this knowledge, it became a matter of honour for the MINI Team to take on a veritable marathon as a tribute to Rauno Aaltonen. The road trip with the trailer towed by the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 started out from Munich and headed straight for the Baltic. After a ferry trip lasting around 30 hours, the drive lasted another 14 hours along Finland's roads, some of them already covered in wintry snow.

The destination for the advent mission was Rovaniemi - the main city in the Lapland region, known the world over as the 'official residence of Santa Claus'. 

Aaltonen undoubtedly received the best gift one could get after a year filled with lockdowns and uncertainty
They presented the offering with warmest season's greetings from Munich, and the transporter opened up as if by magic. The trailer was decorated with a picture of a classic Mini, leaving no doubt about its content, but Rauno Aaltonen was visibly moved when the red classic car with the white roof rolled out.

However, he didn't lose much time. A little while later, high arcs of snow flew in all directions and the old master sped off, drifting as he went, on an extensive tour through snowy Finnish forests. There's no question about it, Rauno Altonen couldn't have had a better advent present.

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