Rally Of The Tests

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Paul Lawrence Reports on the event
that recalls the RAC Rally of the ‘50s

Heavy rain, snow, ice and bright sunshine ensured that the 2019 Rally of the Tests was a big challenge for around 80 crews during three full days of classic rallying from Torquay to Chester on 7-10 November.

Steve Entwistle and Mark Appleton led from start to  nish in thier Mini Cooper S.  Photos Paul Lawrence

Through it all, the Mini Cooper S of Steve Entwistle and Mark Appleton dominated the action with neither crew member faltering as the Mini led from the short prologue section on Thursday evening.  As the overall awards are restricted to pre-1968 cars, the overall runners-up were GT racer and Porsche expert Phil Hindley and his co-driver Martyn Taylor (Porsche 911).

While nearly four minutes separated Entwistle from Hindley by the time the survivors arrived in Chester, two Post ‘68 cars were in between on total penalties.  Harm Lamberigts and Arjan van der Palen (Escort Mexico) were easily the best of the European visitors and scooped a fine result as they edged Mike and Matthew Vokes (Ginetta G15) on the final day.  The plucky little Ginetta had a great event until it slid off during a special test at the Rednall kart track on the final morning and dropped critical time.

From Torquay, following Thursday evening’s prologue, the Friday route criss-crossed the county with a typical mix of timed special tests and road regularity sections.  After a final hop up the M5, Friday night was spent in Bristol before the route headed north on Saturday morning.

During Saturday, crews made a little piece of UK motor sport history by tackling a competitive section of the rally inside Hall 6 of the NEC Classic Motor Show.  While demonstrations are a regular part of Autosport International at the NEC, this took timed competition into the halls of the NEC during the rally that re-creates the RAC Rallies of the 1950s.  It was a tremendous opportunity to show this branch of the sport to a perfect target audience and was judged a great success.

Cor Meulen and Ad van der Werf from Holland tackle one of 30 special tests

After more special tests, Saturday finished at Stoke-on-Trent and the final day took crews west into Wales where snow was lying on the higher ground.  Even the snow could not hinder the progress of Entwistle and Appleton who were declared worthy winners after 750 miles, having pressed home their advantage on Saturday and extended it further in the Welsh sunshine on Sunday.

Hindley was elated to finish second overall at his first attempt at an event of this kind.  “This is proper rallying,” he said, “it’s a brilliant event.”  Rounding out the overall podium was a good result for motor sport tyre guru Paul Dyas with Martin Pitt on the maps in his Volvo Amazon, while third among the Post ‘67 cars was the VW Golf GTi of son and father Thomas and Roger Bricknell.

Leading contenders Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan were among the first casualties.  Their Porsche 356B was sidelined on Friday morning by gearbox failure on special test three near Cheriton Bishop in Devon after lying eighth overall following Thursday evening’s prologue section.  Undeterred, they later re-joined the event in Crosby’s Porsche 911.

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