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Contents December Issue Issue:  Latest News - Bits & Pieces - Rally News - Carrera Panamericana - Rallye du Valais - Daytona Classic 24 - Deux Tours d’Horloge - Alfa Revival Cup - Jerez Historic Festival - Historic Tour Lédenon - MRL Silverstone GP - Goodwood Members Meeting - Algarve Classic Festival

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In one of the coldest regions of Romania, guaranteeing snowy conditions, the sixth edition of the Winter Romania Historic Rally, will take place on 20-23 January on the forest paths of  Comandaü in Transylvania,  where Paul Lacombe, George Grigorescu and their team have designed a route to include three days of racing in loops around the city of Covasna.

The total rally distance is around 450 kilometres, including 200 special stage kilometres.  Run under Romanian National regulations, sanctioned by the FRAS (Romanian Federation of Sports Automobiles) and the Romanian Automobile Club, the rally is open to historic, two and four-wheel drive vehicles, with or without HTP, registered before 12.31.1995.  The number of entries is limited to 60.  See www.romania-historic-rally.com for details.

Such was the demand for places for HERO-ERA’s rally starting in Spain and crossing to Morocco, it nearly took place this year, not once, but twice due to the number of entries.  Both got shelved at the last minute due to COVID, but now the event, that takes competitors into the remotest parts of the great Sahara Desert, is back on the calendar and is due to run on 19-30 September 2022. 

Thirty entries for the open-road race (stage rally) are listed on the official Chihuahua Express website, including the winner of this year’s Pan-Am, Carlos Cordero, plus another ten entries in the ChiX Tour.  These entries do not include a dozen competitors from the US who paid their entry fee for the 2020 event, which was cancelled, and who have yet to submit 2022 entry forms. Entries will remain open until 31 January for this compact special stage rally that packs in over 500kms of rally stage in its 1600kms over three days, returning to the same hotel each night, all set in one of the most picturesque regions of northern Mexico.

Chihuahua has one of the lowest COVID infection rates in the country and most of the racing is in the mountains, away from populated areas.  The HQ hotel sits high on a hill overlooking the city, which provides a high level of security from the virus.  The event organiser, Chacho Medina, is convinced the event will occur as scheduled on April 28-May 1, 2022.

At least three norteamericanos have signed up for the ChiX Tour because they want to experience a Mexican rally before they buy or build a full competition car.  The Tour cars follow the same route as the competing cars, go to the same drivers’ meetings, park their cars in the same paddock, and sit in the same bars each night.  See www.chihuahuaexpress.com.

Next year’s event will take place on 15-18 June.  Entries opened on 4 November and will close on 14 January.  There is an eligibility registration scheme (at a cost of €500), which must be completed before an entry application can be made.    See https://1000miglia.it.

The East African Safari Classic Rally that was to take place on 1-9 November 2021 has been rescheduled for early next year organisers have confirmed.  “Despite the regrettable news of the postponement of the 2021 event, the management can now confirm that it will take place on 10th – 18th February 2022.   We are working tirelessly to ensure that we give all stakeholders a spectacular event,” said East African Safari Classic Rally Board Chairman Joey Ghose.

A full entry that includes some past and present rally stars is expected, including latest to enter, former Junior World Rally Champion and former Subaru Motorsports Factory driver,  Patrik Sandel, who will be driving one of eight Tuthill Porsche-entered cars, along with 2019 winners Austrians Kris Rosenberger and Nicola Bleicher.  Safari regulars Andrew Sidall, Geoff Bell and Ian Duncan are also on the entry list.  The organising team have guaranteed a thoroughly professional and competitive event that will cover almost 5,000kms across the region, incorporating Kenya’s finest rallying roads and, COVID-19 permitting, with stages in neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania over nine days, returning the event to its original East African status.  See www.eastafricansafarirally.com for details and entries.

The newest long-distance rally organisation, the not-for-profit Rally the Globe, got back to business on 2-12 October with its first long distance adventure since it had to cancel its ambitious plans to, literally, Rally the Globe.  Inspired by Italian rally history, Carrera Italia started and finished in Sanremo on the Italian Riviera – home to the country’s round of the World Rally Championship for many years.  A 2800km (1750 miles), ten-day route, starting from the balmy Ligurian coast and climbing up into the Alto Adige and the Dolomites, through rain, wind, sleet and hail, returned to Liguria via the Adriatic resort of Rimini, the Apennines and the vineyards of Tuscany.  

Wiinners Mike and Lorna Harrison

With regularities along the way, special tests on racing circuits, including the Autodromo di Modena, five-star hotels, fine food and wine, the final winners were Mike and Lorna Harrison, completing a double after winning the  Highland Thistle Rally a month earlier in their Triumph TR3A.  Top honours in the Vintage class went to the 1938 Frazer Nash-BMW shared by first time winners Bertie and Charlotte van Houtte.  The two overall victors were joined by class winners – Steve and Jenny Verrall (1965 Porsche 911), Roy and Rachel Stephenson (1973 Porsche 911) and Manuel and Irene Dubs (1965 Ford Mustang V8 Convertible).

Climbing up into the Alto Adige through rain, wind, sleet and hail....  Photos Gerard Brown Courtesy Rally the Globe

The prizes were presented to the winners by Ari Vatanen, the renowned ‘Flying Finn’.  “To have Ari with us was just an incredible finish to an incredible event,” concluded Rally Director Fred Gallagher, who co-drove for Vatanen back in the day.

he Vintage class went to the 1938 Frazer Nash-BMW shared by Bertie and Charlotte van Houtte

 

 

This 34th edition of the revival Carrar Panamericana, which took place on 15-21 October, was won by Ricardo Cordero and Marco Hernández in their Studebaker Champion after a comeback that seemed all but impossible.  After a blown tyre set them back over four and a half minutes on the first day of competition on the route from Oaxaca to Veracruz, last year’s winning pair were left to chase the experienced Frenchman, Hilaire Damiron, with his Brazilian wife Laura, in a Studebaker Commander and 2015 and 2018 winner, Emilio Velázquez (Studebaker Champion), navigated by Jorge Bernal.

After a 4,200km drive that included ove 600kms of timed stages, Ricardo Cordero and Marco Hernández won by 6.6 seconds.  Photos courtesy Carrera Panamericana

Current national rally champion, Cordero played to his strengths, most notably on day 4 on the stages around Mexico City and Morelia and the famous Mil Cumbres stage.  Helped by the setback of Velázquez, whose driveshaft broke on day 5, effectively putting him out of contention, the Champion carried the day, but started the final day with a scant 18-second lead over the Franco-Brazilian couple, with five stages to run to Saltillo.  Damiron attacked, but Cordero never faltered and finished the final stage with a margin of – wait for it – 6.6 seconds after over 4,000kms and 600kms of stages, for a third consecutive out of four victories in the event.  Overall winners in 2016, Hilaire and Laura Damiron finished second, while Velázquez and Bernal held on to third place overall, some six minutes in arrears, after repairing their broken Studebaker.  Of the top 20 finishers there were six Studebakers, six Porsche 911s, four modern cars (BMWs), and four older cars, including a replica of a classic Ferrari 250.  Doug Mockett, another Pan-Am and Chihuahua Express champ, finished a disappointing 11th in his iconic red and yellow 1954 Oldsmobile.

Regular participant and past winner, Doug Mockett came a disappointing 11th

There were just as many crashes and mishaps as ever, including one involving a police car policing the event

Rallye International du Valais - Stajf and Zelinka fly high in Switzerland

Round eight of the 2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship was run in a Switzerland wearing its finest autumnal colours.  The Rallye International du Valais on 21-23 October also counted towards the Swiss championship and the historic Swiss championship and consisted of three legs giving 190kms of special stages on the sinuous mountain passes.    With two stages on Thursday afternoon, and a further seven stages to follow on Friday, three of them run twice, the finish was on Saturday after a further seven stages.

Stajf and Zelinka fly high in Switzerland.  Photo Etienne Bornet Courtesy Rallye du Valais

With the disappointing withdrawal of the two Category 4 EHRC entries of Daniel Alonso/Jorge Henriques (Ford Sierra RS Cosworth) and the Audi quattro A2 of Ville Silvasti and Risto Pietlainen, there were only four cars entered in the EHRC section of the rally, all of them competing in Category 2, so maximum points were at stake.

James Potter and Greg McCormack claimed first blood from the depleted field in their Ford Escort RS1600, 2.1secs ahead of the Opel Kadett of Vojtech Stajf and Vladimir Zelinka, with their Flexifly teammates, and current Category 2 championship leaders, Ernie and Karen Graham in third in their Ford Escort RS1800.  The Czech Opel struck back on the second stage to finish the leg just 0.6secs down.

On Friday Stajf started the day with three stage wins, but Potter had an answer and won the next three stages.  Finally, it was the Opel that came back to parc fermé with a 4.7sec advantage.  The Grahams continued in third place further back.  The Ford Escort of Richard and Lucie Ronay became a casualty on the opening stage when a technical issue side-lined their Escort, leaving a guaranteed podium place for the remaining three cars, if they could stay on the road to the finish.

James Potter and Greg McCormack fought hard but lost out on the final stage.  Photo Sven Walker

A close battle on the final day saw McCormack posting the fastest time on four of the seven stages, with Stajf taking three.  On each of the first five stages the two cars were split by less than 10 seconds, with the two cars separated by just 0.5sec on SS13 with three more stages to go.

The penultimate stage saw the gap increase, McCormack going 14.5secs faster than Stajf on SS15.  But the Czech threw everything he had at the final stage to finish 28.8 seconds ahead of the Escort and claim final victory by 8.4 seconds.  Ernie and Karen Graham finished a distant third in their Escort, over nine minutes in arrears.

As we go to press competitors will be gathering in the historic Spanish city of Girona  for the 69th Rally Costa Brava, the ninth and final round of the FIA Championship.

As an unseasonably mild London was still shrouded in darkness, nearly 300 veteran cars, their drivers, passengers and hordes of enthusiastic well-wishers gathered in Hyde Park on Sunday 7 November for the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Celebrating 125 years since the original Emancipation Run, which was held in 1896, the world’s longest-running motoring event saw the first batch of the pre-1905 horseless carriages flagged away, with the earliest of the Victorian ‘light locomotive’ vehicles leading the cavalcade as they phutted and hissed their way through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch and through Whitehall into Parliament Square.  Here the 60-mile route split into two thus alleviating traffic congestion in South London.  The two routes then merged just north of Croydon with the entire cavalcade reunited as it headed towards the South Downs and eventually the Madeira Drive seafront in Brighton.

The Brighton Run provides a unique and wonderfully eccentric spectacle in Hyde Park Photos John Retter

This year’s entry included cars from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland as well as 10 from the United States.  In total, 87 different marques, ranging from Albion and Alldays to Winton and Wolseley, were represented, the vast majority lost to history.

First away from Hyde Park was a single-cylinder, 4bhp Lutzmann dating back to the dawn of motoring in 1896, followed by the world’s only Raynaud – an 8-horsepower twin-cylinder vis-à-vis from the same year. 

Blessed with such eccentric charm and incredible history, the Run always attracts huge wayside crowds along the entire route and worldwide participation.   Enjoying the mild weather, the vast majority completed the journey to Brighton well before the 4.30pm deadline to claim a coveted finishers’ medal. 

 

The first car to reach the Sussex seafront was the 1902 Mors driven by Clive Evison – the French four-cylinder machine completing the journey from capital to coast in just under three hours.

As in recent years, the RM Sotheby’s Veteran Car Run provided the finale to the Royal Automobile Club’s busy London Motor Week – during which the Club hosted an array of functions and events.  The penultimate event in the week was the free-to-view Regent Street Motor Show, on Saturday 6 November, which turned London’s flagship shopping street into a motoring showcase that put the spotlight on veterans and moderns alike and attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.

They came for a relaxed meeting in the sun but instead their season-closer proved challenging in many respects – and not just meteorologically.  The Algarve Classic Festival turned into a soggy affair that became a struggle with the timetable and a handful for the drivers, although many enjoyed the slippery conditions on the fantastically undulating track north of Portimão.  

Photos Trevor Noble

Masters Historic Racing, the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association and the Formula Junior Association had travelled to Portugal from their Jérez meeting the week before to be joined by the GT & Sports Car Cup and the return of its traditional two-hour endurance race under the Algarve’s autumn sun.  All looked set for a grand finale but then months of drought came to an end, precisely during the three days of the Festival.  It could have been worse, though, as initial forecasts predicted 72 hours of torrential rain, while in the end Friday was mostly sunny with some dry spells on Sunday as well.

Lukas Halusa drove a miraculous race to finish third overall in his Bugatti Type 35B in the Pre-‘66 HGPCA race

In addition came the fact that the usual laidback but proper organisation the guests had come to expect from this F1-grade track over the past years seemed to have gone missing this time.  In hindsight, it probably wasn’t very convenient that the event took place right between the ELMS round the week before and the MotoGP the week after.  Several ELMS teams stayed on for private testing until late in the week while MotoGP began invading the paddock as early as Sunday morning, leaving its present incumbents with the impression that they had outstayed their welcome.  Moreover, it seemed that at certain times the Portuguese hosts had their eyes off the ball because of all these conflicting commitments.  Timekeeping suffered from an array of issues, one of the local series was allowed on track ahead of its time, and the extremely tight time schedule didn’t allow for any delays – and those inevitably came on a circuit that has gravel traps acting as run-off areas.

Andrew Haddon, David Smithies and John Watson do battle in the GTSCC race

Nick Padmore won Saturday’s F1 race in the Chrome Cars Lotus 92, a last-minute substitute

In the wet conditions the front-engined cars proved quickest in the HGPCA races

To see Mattijs Diepraam's full report, see our December 2021 issue....