GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1977 Lancia Beta Montecarlo Film Shoot
Gabriel Valentin has been passionate about rallying since the 1990s. He was just a kid back then, but his father fielded two Range Rovers in the famous Paris-Dakar rally, and the rest was history in the making. Long before he drove the Lancia Beta Montecarlo from today’s film in historic competitions though—and before he drove anything for that matter—Gabriel was an avid WRC fan who idolized drivers like Didier Auriol, Carlos Sainz, and François Delecour.
Watching Auriol at the Rallye Monte-Carlo during Toyota’s fruitful years in the sport, Gabriel longed to one day drive a full-size version of the Celica remote-controlled car that echoed the one his hero was sliding on the television. Many years later, Gabriel and his friend were aided by Toyota in creating a replica of the iconic Castro-liveried Group A rally car, but Gabriel made a career for himself in marketing rather than motorsport. The affinity for the now-vintage rally cars never waned despite the desk jobs, and eventually he landed a rather good one with Martini Racing, which provided the perfect opportunity to create this Lancia.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the famed racing team, and Gabriel began searching for a car to enter the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique in celebration of the half-century birthday. He went out looking for a pre-1980 Lancia—the marque having perhaps the closest ties to Martini’s racing history next to Porsche—but a Stratos would have stretched the budget far too much, so he landed on a Beta Montecarlo. The example that he found already had some racing time logged in historic rallying events, and in addition to a few pieces of safety and navigation gear already fitted the white base color made for the perfect candidate to turn into a Martini tribute car.
Gabriel and his colleagues at Martini Racing adapted the livery from the car’s Group B relative—the 037, the last rear-wheel drive WRC car to win a championship—and with just a few months in which to prepare the car, he and his co-pilot Laurent Bertaut registered for the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. Five full days of racing covering well over 1,000 miles lay ahead. The goal was simply to finish the event and arrive with the car still running in Monaco, fun being far more important than finishing position.