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Motorsport at the end of the World
The 16th edition of the Mallorca Classic Rally took place at its usual time, the second weekend of March. As it did so, the tsunami of the Coronavirus swept across Spain and would overwhelm the event. An absence of common sense or the pressure of a crowded calendar meant that once again the rally clashed with the opening round of the FIA Historic Rally Championship, scheduled on the same weekend across the Balearic sea at Gerona. The privileged Mediterranean island has hosted a classic rally for the last nineteen years and this was the 16th to be organised by Toni Dezcallar.
At this stage, the threat from Covid-19 was acknowledged by all but few could predict its effect on the event. In spite of the clash with the FIA Historic Championship round the rally attracted a capacity entry.
The Coves de Campanet consists of a narrow road bordered by low stone walls with occasional slippy wet patches and blind jumps. The impression of speed is tremendous. It is one for the young and the brave. Rally winner Seb Perez literally flew over it
Paul Lawrence Reports
A new event to celebrate rallying heritage ran successfully but in a fairly low-key way at the end of February when the inaugural Chester Rally Revival marked the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in the career of Colin McRae.
The idea was to send a gaggle of cars and crews on a tour of Cheshire and Shropshire, taking in venues with RAC Rally heritage. It was not competitive, but some spirited driving kept the fans nicely entertained and it turned out to be a real hit with participants and spectators alike.
The field was headed by Colin’s father Jimmy
Report by Neil Hammond
Phillip Island’s annual Motor Sport Festival on 5-8 March again provided the country’s best historic race meet with, as usual, nearly 500 entries. While overseas entries were down compared to recent years, the gathering of cars from all parts of Australia was again the opportunity to see a vast number of cars that otherwise never run together on the same track. In an arrangement between British Brian Souley Motorsport and local Ecurie Australie/Davisons Formula Ford team, four local cars were driven by overseas drivers, Richard “Bulldog” Tarling, Adrian Reynard in a Reynard of course, Frenchman Xavier Michel and Dutch KLM pilot Jaap Blijleven. Brian Soule has hopes to extend Formula Ford swap deals to involve other countries in future. Luke Ellery motorsport entered Chris Hodgen, while further British deal drivers were Martin Whitlock and Donald Boyack.
Guido Belgiorno-Nettis brought two Ferraris. Photo Shaun Tanner
John Whiteman went to the top exhibition of the classic car world
Photos Eric Sawyer
The event that kicks off the European season each year, Salon Retromobile, took place over 5 days, from 5-9 February, in the 75,000 square metres of Paris Expo at Porte de Versailles 44 years after it was started by Marc Nicolosi whose passing was recorded in the January/February issue of Historic Motor Racing News. Sadly, apart from a brief mention in the official guide, no further tribute was paid at the show, which until last year has been run for events company Comexposium by Nicolosi’s right hand man at the very beginning, François Melcion.
Visiting UK driver Michael Lyons (Lola T400) roared to an SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series clean sweep at the annual Taupo Historic GP on the weekend of 18-19 January, the series’ second meeting of the 2019-2020 season.
After claiming pole in qualifying on Saturday morning, then smashing category stalwart Ken Smith’s F5000 class lap record on the way to a dominant win in the first race on Saturday afternoon, Lyons went on to win the two Sunday races, all from fellow young gun and series leader, Michael Collins (McRae GM1) from Christchurch.
Photos Fast Company/Graham Hughes
South Africa’s historic racing scene is vibrant, colourful, relaxed and proudly independent of institutional red tape. The focus and cars are, in the main, very different from those in other theatres of warfare. They, not to mention the promise of winter sunshine, attract British, European and American competitors year after year. Marcus Pye ‘Brexited’ from the UK early to experience February’s 19th Passion for Speed events.
An inspired Andrew Beaumont (Lotus 18) staved off Will Nuthall (Cooper T53) to record a superb maiden HGPCA victory at Killarney. Photo Colin Brown
Paul Lawrence Reports
On his first competitive rally since his World Rally Championship career came to an end, Irishman Kris Meeke joined the illustrious list of winners of the Legend Boucles à Bastogne. Equipped with a full-spec Ford Escort Mk2 from the stable of Belgian competitor Christophe Jacob, Meeke and co-driver Seb Marshall dominated the huge Belgian event and pressed home their advantage when the rally moved to gravel stages for the second day.
“Meeke was simply on another planet” Photos Letihon.be
Jurriaan Tas Reports
Formerly a famous speed event, the ‘Neige et Glace’ fell foul of the 1974 oil crisis and was revived as a historic regularity rally in 2000, run by Dakar winner Patrick Zaniroli. He moved the event from Grenoble to the Jura, dubbed by locals as ‘Little Siberia’, because of the near certainty of finding snow and ice there in January. A switch back to the area around Grenoble for the past two years proved unpopular with competitors and the event is now firmly back in Malbuisson.
Winners Romuald Sanseigne and Florin Fornassier in their Autobianchi A112 Abarth. “In the end, it was a small mistake that decided the place. We are so proud to achieve the double, Joël and Corinne taught us everything,” said Romauld of his uncle and aunt, who came second. Photos Richard Bord Courtesy Zaniroli Classic Events
Andrea Belome and Massimo Be nsoli took a slender 8-point win
Andrea Belometti and Massimo Bettinsoli won the Winter Marathon 2020 driving a 1937 Fiat 508 C. The crew from team Brescia Corse remained amongst the top positions over the many Dolomite passes on 23-24 January, beating the young crew of Edoardo Bellini and Roberto Tiberti in a similar Fiat, by eight penalty points. Third place went to Guido Barcella and Roberto Ghidotti in a Porsche 356 C Coupe, some 90 points down on the two leaders.
Peter Collins Reports on one of the most popular events in endurance rallying, with over 300 entries.
Consistency was the key to success for Henrik Bjerregaard and Jaromir Svec Photo http://promopub.org
The first cars to set off on the annual pilgrimage to Monte-Carlo were those from Athens at 12:40 on Wednesday January 29th. Five crews had chosen to do this and they were faced with a 1,715km drive before they would finish on the harbour of the Principality. A further two cars had chosen Glasgow from where they started, along with the Rallye Classique participants, at 19:00 the same day, faced with covering 2142kms to Monte.
Paul Lawrence Reports on one of the toughest rallies in historic motorsport
McCormack the third
Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell won the 2019 Roger Albert Clark Rally in late November after a fabulous battle with Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke on the 13th edition of this unique event.
Marty McCormack on the way to a record third RAC win. Photos Paul Lawrence
For four and a half days, over 31 special stages, McCormack drove faultlessly to take a 52-second victory after more than five hours of flat out rallying. However, the result was in doubt until the very end as Pritchard never stopped chasing despite a puncture in Scotland on Sunday morning that proved a turning point in his rally.
Rosenberger Rules under the African Sky
Paul Lawrence Reports
Austrian driver Kris Rosenberger and co-driver Nicola Bleicher headed the Safari Classic Rally at the finish in Mombasa on Friday 6 December after nine tough days through Kenya and Tanzania.
Rosenberger, who last rallied in Kenya back in 1989, took his Tuthill Porsche 911 to a 93-second victory over the similar car of 2015 winner and rally legend Stig Blomqvist. Porsche 911s claimed the top eight places as Tuthill Porsche and Team Tido Race 4 Health dominated the leader board.
Kris Rosenberger and Nicola Bleicher head towards victory. Photos McKlein