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 Contents September  issue:  Latest News - Bits & Pieces - Rally News - Classic Marathon - Rally Weiz - Lahti Historic Rally - Heroes of Historic Motor Sport - Insider’s Market Report - Zandvoort Classics - Seven Questions for Erik Comas -  Nogaro Classic - VSCC Prescott - NKHTGT - Classic Silverstone - Historic Tour Dijon - Alfa Revival Cup

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Rally News

Bumper entries mark the resumption of the French rally season

Rallye de la Châtaigne

After the long break between the Touquet Pas-de-Calais rally in March, and the second round of the French Historic Rally Championship, the Rallye de la Châtaigne finally got under way on 19-21 August.  The 2020 edition offered a concentrated route with more than 160 special stage kilometres with the city of Autun, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, as its hub.  A record attendance of 171 competitors in modern cars, 57 in VHC and 22 in historic regularity, with waiting lists, welcomed the return of the French Rally Championship.  Competitors praised the organisers for their forethought in ensuring the safety of all the participants and spectators in the light of the COVID restrictions and remarked how well-run every aspect of the rally was.

Impressive entry in Parc Fermé in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

In the historic speed competition, past WRC driver, Alain Oreille, with wife Sylvie as usual on the notes, was the star of the show, untouchable in his 911 Porsche, finishing over two minutes ahead of reigning French Historic Champion Alain Foulon’s Ford Escort RS and winning 11 of the 12 special stages outright, and fastest in all 12 in his category.  Foulon’s challenge was hampered by a fuel pump failure on the first stage, but he and co-driver, Sébastien Mettai, finished third overall and second to Oreille in the crucial group 1/2/3/4 category.  Benoit Chavet and Pascal Boyer in their BMW M3 drove the only group N/A/B car to outclass them for second overall and victory in their category. 

Christophe and Anne Baillet won a three-Porsche race in the regularity section.

Rally Mont Blanc Morzine

Leader for half the Mont Blanc rally, Alain Rulland in his BMW M3 fell back to third but suddenly went on the attack in the very last stage to pulverise last year’s winner, Pascal Perroud, taking over 18 seconds off him in the stage and nally winning the rally by 6.8 seconds

Next on the French Calendar was the Rallye Mont Blanc, on 3-5 September.  Once again there was a full house, with 315 entries of all categories including 58 in historic competition.  Alain Rulland, accompanied by Xavier Machet, proved himself to be king of the Alpes in his BMW M3, fastest overall and winner of his category.

Three Cheers for Favaro

Jean-Marie Biadatti reports

 The 29th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000 had to be postponed to September because of the pandemic and the continuing health situation led some competitors to withdraw at the last minute.  There were nevertheless 195 competitors still at the start, with 102 in regularity and 93 in the competition category, the latter including four previous winners.  Shaun Lynn and Ludovic Caron brought Shelby Cobras, Jean-Pierre Lajournade was in his winning Jaguar E-type, and the winner of the last two editions, Raphaël Favaro, who drove a Lotus Elan 26R in 2018 and 2019, was this year at the wheel of a Jaguar E-Type belonging to his co-driver, Lucien-Charles Nicolet, prepared by Equipe Europe.  Damien Kohler also abandoned his Lotus Elan for a 289 Shelby Cobra maintained by Gipimotor.  Porsche prototypes were in the spotlight for 2020 and there were three 906s in the VHC field, as well as a Porsche 904.

This year there was no start from a chateau but on the legendary Linas-Montlhéry circuit where the first special stage started on the road and ended on the speed ring, making an atypical special that saw Favaro dominate the debate.  We then witnessed a sumptuous battle on the Magny-Cours circuit in grid 4, which saw the victory of Mr John of B’s ​​Porsche 906.  Meanwhile Caron dropped right down in the results following contact with the Cobra of Frédéric Jousset, who was forced to retire.  There was also a beautiful battle in grid 3 between Sébastien Berchon (Austin Healey 100/4) and Stanislas Gurdjian (Morgan +4 Super Sport) that would continue at all circuits.

  

Chased variously by the Cobras of Shaun Lynn, Ludovic Caron and Damien Kohler, and the Porsche 906 of Mr John of B, Raphaël Favaro resisted them all to take his third Tour Auto victory, this time in an E-type Jaguar shared with Lucien-Charles Nicolet

The second leg started from Clermont-Ferrand and allowed competitors to have an early morning race on the grandiose circuit of Charade.   On the evening of this second leg, Mr John of B’s ​​Porsche 906 led the general classification ahead of Lynn by six short seconds, with Kohler and Lajournade further back.

The third leg, which took the rally from Limoges to Toulouse should have included a race on the Albi circuit, but the change of date for the event meant the circuit was no longer available.  Instead, there were three road special stages.  This was Favaro’s day, the Swiss getting to grips with his new mount and winning all three stages! 

On day 4 competitors crisscrossed the roads of southern France, passing through the magnificent site of the Cirque de Navacelles.  Once again Favaro dominated special stages, while Mr John of B lost a little time in a minor exit from the road.  Kohler missed a turning which made him also lose precious seconds. 

 

Less comfortable on the roads, Mr John of B lost time to the GT cars on the special, stages.  Photos PhotoClassicRacing.com

The last leg was shortened, with the finish taking place at the Paul Ricard circuit.  It remained only for Favaro to manage his lead, and he left the scratch win of the last special stage to Lajournade and the victory on the Castellet circuit to Kohler, who won it after a final twist of fate when the Porsche 906 of Mr John of B stopped with a seized gearbox. 

The final victory therefore went to Raphaël Favaro and Lucien-Charles Nicolet ahead of Jean-Pierre Lajournade and Christophe Bouchet and the Cobra of a Damien and Sylvie Kohler for what was an edition filled with suspense and drama. 

We should also note the excellent performance of Sébastien Berchon in his Austin Healey 100/4, a car from grid 3 that punched above its weight to finish in a fine fourth place. 

"

For us it was above all an edition to familiarise ourselves with the Cobra, which is much more powerful than what we have driven in the past,” explained Damien Kohler. “... nishing on the podium is a real satisfaction. Our direct opponents have been warned: next year, we are back to play for the win!”

A very important part of the Tour Auto is the index of performance result.  Here three lovely cars topped the podium, with Gilles and Marielle Couraudon winning in a Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 ahead of Diego Meier and the romantically named Giacomo Amoroso in a Ferrari 225S Vignale Berlinetta and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce of Jean-Yves Beaupigny and Garard Dumesne.  In fifth place was arguably the most exotic car in the rally:  a Pichon Parat Dolomites in the hands of Hugo Baldy.  A good fight all week between the Ferrari 308 Gr4 Michelotto of the Jean brothers and the Porsche 911 3.0 RSR of Emmanuel Brigand in the G/H/I categories resulted in a win for the Italian car, which finally to a lead of 2m16secs over the Porsche.

The regularity section attracts more and more specialists and becomes more and more closely fought.  Regular Tour Auto competitors  Jean-François Nicoules with his son François won this year for the  fourth time at the wheel of a Ford Mustang, beating 2018 winner Jean Rigondet in Porsche 356 and Patrick Bonnardel, driving a Triumph TR4.

For a full report, see out October isse…….

Former British Truck Racing champion Richard Walker is starting preparations for his biggest motor sport challenge to date, as he embarks on a project to contest the Peking-Paris Rally in 2022.

Walker, a multiple truck racing champion, has most recently contested a few races in a Lotus Cortina with his nephew, Jack Walker-Tully, in Masters two-driver events, but now he has bigger plans and is starting build up a 1939 Chevrolet Coupe for the five-week marathon that pits crews against some of the remotest landscapes on the planet.

He plans to do an event in the Sahara next year as a lead-in to Peking-Paris and is keen to do as much of the build work on the car himself.  “I’ll need to know every nut and bolt so that I can hopefully deal with any problems we get on the rally,” said the Nottinghamshire driver.

MAGAZINE  > RALLY NEWS > Truck Champion Aims for Peking-Paris

The organisers of the Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship have come up with a significantly altered calendar for 2021 after losing this year’s championship to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Championship manager Colin Heppenstall, from the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club, says he has deliberately opted for events that are less expensive and require less time away.  With the overall state of the economy and some business owners facing difficult times, he wants the 2021 programme to be as affordable and accessible as possible.  It will cover six gravel and two asphalt rallies.

Three new events are on the provisional championship schedule: the Riponian Rally in Yorkshire, the Plains Rally in Wales and the closed-road Three Shires Stages in Worcestershire are all in the BHRC for the first time and will replace the Kielder Forest Rally, the Jim Clark Rally and the Ulster Rally in the eight-round programme.

The schedule of largely one-day rallies, all based on the mainland, means that there will be no ‘sail-away’ rounds next year, but Heppenstall confirmed that he is discussing the possibility of a return to the Isle of Man in 2022.  “We wanted to choose events that give value for money and enjoyment to the competitors,” he said.

The provisional 2021 programme is: Riponian Rally (7 February), Rally North Wales (27 March), Plains Rally (22 May), Red Kite Stages (13 June), Harry Flatters Rally (25 July), Three Shires Stages (5 September), Trackrod Rally (24-25 September) and the Carlisle Stages (22 October).

Six gravel and two asphalt rallies will be on the Biritsh rally Championship menu in 2021

MAGAZINE  > RALLY NEWS > BHRC schedule changes for 2021

We were surprised to find the following message in our inbox from Liz Wenman in mid-July. 

Rally Round is no longer running international car rallies or driving adventures, a decision has been prompted mainly by the situation of the global pandemic but also it is time to enjoy my fabulous family and home life with my husband David to the full.

Liz goes on at some length to thank all her colleagues on the Rally Round team, and her agents in the various countries around the world that Rally Round has visited.  Rally Round has had to cancel two major events due to COVID and an event planned for Mongolia next year was in doubt given that a recce wasn’t possible and TB, as well as Coronavirus, is rife in that country.

Photo:  Founded in 2011 by Simon Hope of H&H Auctions, John Brigden of World Wide Classic Car Rallies (who has since moved on to found Bespoke Rallies) and Liz and David Wenman, H&H Classic Rallies - later re-named Rally Round - went on to organise rallies around the world, including the Rally of Rajasthan, Road to Mandalay, Paris-Madrid and many more.

Founded in 2011 by Simon Hope of H&H Auc ons, John Brigden of World Wide Classic Car Rallies (who has since moved on to found Bespoke Rallies) and Liz and David Wenman, H&H Classic Rallies - later re-named Rally Round - specialised in exo c loca ons and went on to organise rallies around the world, including the Rally of Rajasthan, Road to Mandalay, Paris-Madrid and many more.

MAGAZINE  > RALLY NEWS > Rally Round

Well known Italian events Company, Canossa, organisers of regularity rallies such as the Stella Alpina and Terre di Canossa, and competitive rallies, such as the Modena Cento Ore, have announced a series of North American, small-group road-trip excursions, starting with the Fall Rallye New England in October.  In 2019 US-based Motorsport Network, acquired Canossa Events via its ticketing division, Motorsport Live, and these tours will ensure that they will be able to serve their American customers, who for the moment, cannot travel to Italy.  While classic cars are always welcome, these touring events will be mainly for supercars.  Canossa already organises tours and rallies in the Middle East and around the world for Ferrari. 

Photo Rachel Soria

MAGAZINE  > RALLY NEWS > Canossa Events North America

After all the work put in by everyone to salvage the FIA Championship, the Rally Weiz, originally postponed, has had to be cancelled for 2020 after all.  “The sports scene in Austria still has the annoying Corona virus in its power.  So much so that the organisers of the Rally Weiz now have to “cut their sails”.  Which is as painful as it is short:  The Rally Weiz 2020 has been cancelled!  A shift from the original July date to the weekend of September 3rd to 5th was ultimately of no use,” said Mario Klammer., leader of the organising team.  “We would have had a huge field of starters, “After the Styrian motorsport highlight had already received promises from the FIA and the Austrian Motorsport Federation, the level of confidence was at least as great as the current level of depression.”

MAGAZINE  > RALLY NEWS > Rally Weiz Cancelled

The FFSA has done a great job of saving the 2020 French National Historic Rally Championship, which, despite the long interruption will still consist of seven rounds.  With the Touquet rally already run in March before lockdown, the rest of the season is scheduled to run as follows:

Championnat de France des Rallyes VHC

12-14 March, Touquet Pas-de-Calais

19-21 August, Autun Sud Morvan

3-5 September, Mont Blanc Morzine

18-20 September, Grasse Fleurs et Parfums

16-18 October, Antibes Côte d’Azur

lines, 29-31 October, Cévennes

26-29 November, Var

In another blow for beleaguered British rallying, this year’s Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship has been cancelled.  Championship promoter Colin Heppenstall had been hoping to run a shortened three-round championship in the later part of the year but the announcement that the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, scheduled for 25-16 September, has been cancelled has left the BHRC abandoned.

Trackrod organiser Rod Parkin said, “We have closely monitored the advice from Government and Motorsport UK and we are sure that all the implications are well understood without the need to detail them here.  Uppermost in our minds is the safety of all concerned in running a complex event involving many people and outside agencies.  Whilst we had several ‘Plan B’ scenarios, time has overtaken us and it is now the appropriate time to make a decision.”

Heppenstall from the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club said, “In the current climate of restrictions and with no timetable on the horizon for rallying to restart, we understand the Trackrod Motor Club’s decision to cancel their event in September.”  We had looked at adding one more event to the BHRC schedule along with the Trackrod and the Carlisle Stages (October 24), but this has left us with no option but to cancel the 2020 championship.”

HERO-ERA has launched the 2021 Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo, scheduled to run from 7 to 11 February from a start in Reims.  The organisers expect that COVID-19 restrictions will not impact the five-day event, which promises a top quality route and winter rallying at its best, as crews tackle French roads steeped in motor sport history.  These will include some high altitude, and therefore likely snow-bound, sections, like the Col-de-Turini.  The event will include night sections and the route will take in regions last used in 2005, before the finish in Monte Carlo.

This 30-year-old event was first conceived by the late Philip Young, a pioneer in historic rallying.  Entries are now open at heroevents.eu.