‘Bertie’ The Beetle!
WHILE VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT’S triumvirate of pace-setting Polo WRCs were gunning for outright glory on last month’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, spare a thought for what was the fourth VW on the entry list. Lining up alongside Sébastien Ogier and all the sport’s other top guns was plucky Bob Beales in his 58-year-old ‘Bertie' Beetle!
Mind you the venerable orange Bug is no ordinary rally car - like many approaching pensionable age, it boasts quite a colourful history. Bertie was born back in 1958 and early in his life was owned by a Hereford taxi company where he suffered a skirmish with a bus and somehow a more damaging roll.
The repaired car was then rally-prepared by the legendary VW specialist Bill Bengry in the early '60s before being acquired by Beales a few years later. “I was a lucky boy to get my hands on the car and it’s been a dream ever since,” says Bob who competed extensively in rallies, autotests and even autocross before putting Bertie into storage.
In more recent years, though, the Beetle has enjoyed a new lease of life competing in many historic events including the Monte Carlo Rally in 1990. Marking the 25th anniversary of that adventure, Beales entered last year’s Network Q WRGB National Rally and - despite the best efforts of storm Abigail - won his class, a feat he’s now trying to emulate in 2016.
“Competing in Wales Rally GB last year was a brilliant experience,” he enthuses. “It was very hard on the old car and the weather made it all the tougher - there was lots of aquaplaning. But that’s what makes it such a great event - it’s a monumental challenge.”
Beales admits he takes great interest in the successes of the VW factory team and is ultra impressed with their allconquering Polo R WRCs. He says: “The technology in those cars is just brilliant, although I’m not sure if I’m man enough to give one a go. That said, I actually passed one of the Polos on last November’s event when Jari-Matti Latvala got stuck in a ditch - that would have made a great photo!
"I reminded Jari-Matti about it when I saw him at Goodwood earlier this year, and he remembered seeing Bertie going past - it’s one of those cars you just can’t forget!”
from p. 3 of issue November 2016
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