A PARTY atmosphere in Paisley last night gave a big send-off to cars and crews taking part in the historic rally to Monte Carlo.

A total of 70 cars left the start ramp, the largest number of entries so far, for the 1,500-mile trip to the South of France.

A crowd of thousands gathered with the backdrop of the Abbey to wave off the crews with lights, music, street food and pyrotechnics. Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the Monte Carlo Classic Rally back to Paisley for a fifth year.”

Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator and the man responsible for bringing the Monte back to Scotland in 2011, led the cars off to Monte Carlo in his 1961 Triumph Herald Coupe.

He said: “Paisley’s mid-winter carnival – the Monte Carlo Rally Start – is back for a record fifth time with a record number of cars heading for the sunshine. It’s acknowledged to be the best of all the rally starts around Europe.”