VW ‘Bertie’ Beetle in bid to repeat class win
While Volkswagen Motorsport’s triumvirate of pace-setting Polo WRCs will be gunning for outright glory on this month’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27-30 October), spare a thought for the fourth VW on the star-studded entry list. Lining up alongside Sébastien Ogier and all the sport’s other top guns is 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 sixties 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.”