The HERO-ERA Scottish Malts rally returned on 24-28 April with its usual theme of visits to whiskey distilleries and golf courses along the route, plus a new start and finish at the glitzy Gleneagles resort. This time only pre-1975 cars were eligible for an overall victory, whilst the entry fee had increased sizeably since 2021. This may have contributed to a reduced entry of 43 with only a dozen or so crews returning from the last event. On the upside there were new teams from across Europe and even as far away as Australia, with quite a few enjoying their first ever competitive event. Although as one navigator was overheard to say, “seeing the golf courses excites me as much as the rally”. Joel Wykeham Reports…
Day One saw the route head west in sunshine from Gleneagles in Perthshire along daffodil covered roadsides towards the atmospheric harbour town of Oban. Five regularities and three tests, including two dramatic timed runs up sections of the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ Hillclimb, soon established the more experienced teams from the newcomers and by tea-time the recent London-Lisbon winning Mini Cooper of father and son Dick and Harry Baines had taken a firm overall lead. It was amongst the next few places that the closest competition would take place.
By day 3 Expert crew Stephen and Thomas Owens had moved up into second in their Porsche 356B, separated by just a few points from the Healey 100S driven by Graham Platts and Neil Ripley and our own Alfa GTV6.
On the fifth and final day, with just two regularities to go, the route was blocked by two self-proclaimed vegan eco-warriors who declared they were “protesting the use of all motorised vehicles”. Cars backed up on the road and confusion reigned as competitors tried to negotiate, whilst ironically at almost the same spot a couple sat out in their front garden cheering and clapping every car that passed. The rest of the stage was abandoned. Subsequently, as the rally completed the final long tricky regularity, the well crewed Platts/Ripley Healey had climbed up into second and with a supreme effort the Owens Porsche recovered to take third, equal with our car on points. At the Gleneagles 18th hole finish the dominant Baines Mini had won by a big margin.
HERO-ERA scored another fine Birdie with the organisation and the routes. If for some, one suspects, it was more about staying at Gleneagles, the golf courses, and the whisky distilleries and for others it was more about some competitive rallying, both groups seemed to be enjoying a good round with plenty of stories to tell back in the clubhouse. For a fuller report, see out June 2023 issue….
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