Northern Ireland

Paddy Hopkirk: 50th anniversary of rally champion's Monte Carlo win

Rally champion Paddy Hopkirk has led a cavalcade through Belfast as part of a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of his Monte Carlo victory.

About 1,500 people took part in a cavalcade of minis from Stormont to the Titanic Quarter via Belfast City Hall.

The Belfast man was made an ambassador for the city, receiving a scroll from Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

Fifty years ago, he raced to victory in a Mini Cooper in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.

Image caption Paddy Hopkirk spoke of his delight at the events on Saturday

On Saturday, the 80-year-old was driving a replica of his winning car.

He said: "Becoming an ambassador for Belfast is really wonderful. Who would have thought 50 years ago that would have happened?

"I'm very flattered and honoured, and the generosity of everybody here is wonderful."

The five-times winner of the Circuit of Ireland Rally took part in his first rally on St Patrick's Day in 1954.

Image caption This was possibly one of the most colourful events ever held at Stormont
Image caption Many people turned out to see the spectacle of cars

Hopkirk, who studied engineering at Trinity College in Dublin, had many more successes, including the coveted Hewison Trophy (Irish Rally Championship) in 1954 and 1955.

But his crowning glory was his victory with Henry Liddon in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally and which saw him becoming a household name overnight.

His victory was considered one of the most significant events in the history of the British automobile industry.

In 2005, Hopkirk was honoured with a place in Irish Sport's Hall of Fame and he was the fourth inductee into the World Rally Hall of Fame.

Image caption The cavalcade left Stormont, heading for the city hall

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