Betsy beats all the odds.
Betsy rallies the nation’s sporting spirits
Published: 19 August, 2010
A 22-year-old London taxi christened 'Betsy' by Aco Water Management has, in the face of considerable mechanical, geographical and human obstacles, scooped top honours in the first-ever Keyline Monte Carlo Rally Challenge.
Sharing the ‘Best in Rally’ award with a 1972, Jago Jeep, Betsy was one of 20 vehicles that completed the arduous round trip to the French Riviera in 96 hours, successfully raising over £70 000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity.
The fleet departed Keyline’s Northfleet branch on Thursday 24 June with the objective of making it to the glamorous French city and back to England in four days.
As well as having to keep within local speed limits and highway laws, each team had the option of undertaking a number on ‘en-route’ challenges to earn extra points. Being photographed with a suitably attired onion- seller and purchasing a quintessentially French beret being among the tricky assignments set for teams.
With rally rules strictly prohibiting the use of sat-navs, teams had had to turn to old-school map reading skills to navigate between check points. If not tricky enough, organisers also advised that participants must have a basic grasp of French grammar (should they become stranded in the countryside) and at least a passing familiarity with the unique rules of continental roundabout negotiation.
If things happened to take a turn for the worse, which fortunately they did not, teams could seek assistance from two fully-equipped support vehicles accompanying the fleet.
“It wasn’t exactly the best of starts for Betsy,” explained Steve Durdant-Hollamby, one of Aco’s four-man driving team. “She suffered a major brake failure on her way to the starting line. We really didn’t think she would pass scrutineering, let alone make it through France.”
Working feverishly through the night, a patched up Betsy hit the start line the following morning purring like a kitten. And so it was all the way to the chequered flag. “It was truly astonishing how she responded to a bit of tender loving care. Admittedly she did suffer a slight fuel leak on the outskirts of Monte Carlo which threatened to engulf the team in a catastrophic fire-ball, but besides that the lady was not for stopping," said Mr Durdant-Hollamby.
“Our thanks go to Keyline for conceiving and staging this very enjoyable event which has raised vital funds and awareness for The Prostate Cancer Charity. There are currently 250 000 men living with prostate cancer in the UK and one man dies of the disease every hour.”
Safely back in the UK, Betsy’s future is now secure. She will be taking on chauffeuring duties for visitors to ACO’s Bedfordshire headquarters.