XX Rally Clásico Isla Mallorca

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The 18th Edition of the Mallorca Classic Rally was held on 7-9 March.  The growth and success of this event is a tribute to the indefatigable enthusiasm of organiser Tony Descallar, who in another age picked up the remains of the Tour of Mallorca that had ended up with a sullied economic reputation.  From that beginning, the event has become the most prestigious on the Island’s calendar, benefitting from the continuing support of principal sponsor The Marina of Puerto Portals that provides the venue for the Service Park.  Michael Stoschek’s ‘Brose’ company, Germany’s leading independent motor parts manufacturer, and one of the event’s long-time supporters, also remained onboard along with the Mallorca Tourist Board, and the Ajuntament de Calvià.  The event again boasted a full entry list spread over three competition classes, pre-1981, pre-1990, pre-1998, and high and low speed regularity…….

Sebastian Perez and Gary McEIlhenny laid down their mark from the beginning and took the Lancia Stratos to a convincing victory, their fourth in the event Photos Courtesy RallyClassics

The weather was perfect for the first day.  If the Transmuntana Mountain range, a World Heritage site that runs the length of Mallorca’s North side is the spine of the island, then the cord is the MA10 road which runs from Pollença to Andratx.  It was resurfaced a few years ago and despite some spectacularly inclement winter weather remains in good condition. The event would use no fewer than three sections of the road.

The opening stage was 14 kilometres of the MA10, bringing competitors to the opposite coast where the road clings to the edge of the mountains and is bordered by steep drops to the sea.  The stage took place as dusk faded into darkness which mitigated the emotions of the acrophobic competitor.

At the end of the night, the Lancia Stratos of Seb Perez and Gary McEIlhenny led the Pre-81 category and the rally overall by 13 seconds, while the local crews, Alex Olivier and Barbara Fran (Peugeot 205) and David Garcia and Rudy Hensen (Renault Clio Maxi),  dominated the Pre-90 and Pre-98 categories. 

The weather on Day 2 was bright and sunny but not particularly warm.  Overnight rain had made the stages perilous, and the very slick surface caught out a number of competitors resulting in several retirements. Descallar made the wise decision to cancel the second pass.

For 2024 the Sa Calobra stage was extended past its usual finish, making a it 24-kilometre marathon

In Pre-81 Feustel and Becker won three of the five stages to close up to the Perez Stratos. The Bruno and Simon Straub Ferrari 308 completed the unchanged top three.  The Oliver Barberá Peugeot headed Pre-90 by a significant margin.  It was a different story in Pre-98.  The Gacía/Hensen Clio Maxi held a narrow lead over the Galiana Flores Ford Escort.  They recorded identical times on the day’s final stage. 

The weather for the final day was cool and started dry.  However, the forecast was for rapidly deteriorating conditions as a huge meteorological depression approached the island.  As the day progressed the rain began to fall with increasing intensity.  

In Pre-81, the battle was still close. Steve Perez and Paul Spooner revelling in the wet conditions in their Ford Escort Mark 2 had a terrific morning winning one of the stages overall.  The well-placed Porsche 911 of Glenn Janssens and Sara Parker went out on the last stage of the morning with a broken gearbox.  The pre ‘90 Oliver Barbará Peugeot which was leading their class by a huge margin also stopped on the same stage.

Just two stages were scheduled for the afternoon, but the conditions had become horrible.  The run from the village of Orient to Bunyola is both hazardous and technical even in the dry.  It features a combination of very tight multiple hairpins to a Coll followed by a narrow high-speed descent, interrupted by blind and deceptive slower sections.  The final trial planned was over the Coll de Biniforani with hairpins all the way up and hairpins all the way down!  The wind and rain increased, and fog shrouded the Colls.  There was many an anxious face at the lunch tables.  With the safety of all the competitors paramount in his mind, Descallar reluctantly made the decision to cancel the remaining stages.  The very relieved field returned to the service park at Portals Nous for the presentations to the winners.

Sebastian Perez and Gary McElhinney were the Pre-81 Champions becoming the first crew to win the event four times.

For a full report see out April 2024 Issue…..

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