The classic Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally and thrilled millions of enthusiasts in everyday driving. Even today it is one of those cars that attract affectionate glances on the road and, time and again, it sets itself new challenges. Now it is making its debut in the Allgäu-Orient Rally. Five classic Minis are joining 44 venerable BMWs to take part for the first time in the alternative competition for classic and near-classic cars, which will be flagged off on 28 April 2012 in the tourist village of Oberstaufen in southwestern Bavaria. Together with 207 other cars, they will be making for Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, more than 5,000 kilometres away. There, on 12 May 2012, two weeks before the European Song Contest, the city will celebrate the arrival of the four-wheeled “Stars for Baku”. All the vehicles that reached their destination will subsequently be auctioned for a charitable cause.A unique blend of sporting contest and fundraising event, the Allgäu-Orient Rally is being held for the seventh time this year. For the past three years, BMW Group Classic has been a supporter of this event. Quite separately from this, numerous staff members of the BMW Group are represented in the teams, each comprising three cars and six drivers. They are placing their free time and technical expertise, their passion for historic vehicles and lust for adventure in the service of this good cause. Teams with memorable names like “ChittyChittyBangBang”, “Bavaria2Baku” and “Dust Busters” are setting off, each with three BMW 5 Series Touring models, while the team named “Convoy” is relying on three second-generation BMW 3 Series Touring cars. In earlier years, cars from both series have already demonstrated their rally-worthiness with high long-distance performance. Now is the moment for the five classic Minis, lining up for the start in the late autumn of their long motoring life, to put to the test that reliability which used to be so crucial to their rallying success. The “Minibaijan” team brings to the starting line no fewer than three works-prepared classic Minis, and Austria’s Classic Cars Sports Club has two more of the original diminutive British cars in its fleet.All the cars taking part in the Allgäu-Orient Rally have one thing in common: they are going to be auctioned at the finishing point, and the proceeds will go to humanitarian aid projects. In this way, last year about €250,000 was raised for the aid organisation Turkish Crescent, which used the money to help earthquake victims and Syrian refugees. In addition, a number of teams use the campaign to raise donations for other charitable institutions. For example, the “Minibaijan” team has made a commitment to SOS Children’s Villages, the “Convoy” team supports the organisation Every Child in Georgia, and the “ChittyChittyBangBang” sextet is collecting money for a children’s home in Albania. In addition to all this, the rally organisation committee coordinates a variety of fundraising activities by sponsors on behalf of aid projects in the countries through which the rally passes.The Allgäu-Orient Rally not only has unusual objectives, but is run according to special rules. The organisers conceived it as a “low-budget” rally. None of the cars entered is allowed to be less than 20 years old or to have a value of more than €1,111.11. The teams spend each night either in their cars, in tents brought with them or in hotels that charge a maximum of €11.11 per person per night.
The journey of more than 5,000 kilometres runs from the starting point in the Bavarian Allgäu, through Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia to Azerbaijan, though the precise route taken is a matter for the team themselves to decide. Thus it is even possible to take routes through Italy, Croatia and Macedonia.
The cars are expected to cover some 375 miles per day; motorways are off limits and satnavs are a no-no. All local traffic regulations must be observed without fail. Special trials and various team tasks have to be completed en route, the results of which form part of the overall evaluation.