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Event Reports

Event Reports from The 20th Classic Marathon

Leg Seven: Friday 20th June
Cortina to Cortina

Overall winners Malcolm Pickering and Iain Tullie - Sunbeam Alpine - spray the champagne on the Corso Italia at the end of the 20th Classic Marathon.

After a short regularity section in the early morning sun at Lago Ghedina came Tre Cime. To use this famous private hill climb before the regular daily traffic it had been an early start from Cortina with two cars each minute. This heightened the tension and although the early runners seemed to be fairly nonplussed the leading crews, starting later under reverse seeding, were more concerned about the possibilty of catching the car infront.

In the early Marathons Tre Cime was run as one long test but this time it was split in two to concentrate the most demanding sections. The second of these tests had the traditional finish where the navigator had to get out of the car, place the timecard in the clock and press a button to record a time. Despite the instructions being published earlier and the opportunity for advance stop-the-clock practice the process confused several navigators, to the amusement of the growing crowd of onlookers who shouted encouragement and applauded the best efforts.

After a transit section came a regularity over the Passo Giau, another Marathon favourite, followed by two more regularities before a return to Cortina d’Ampezzo and the welcome sight of the finish in the Corso Italia. The authorities in Cortina had recognized the significance of the 20th Classic Marathon returning to Cortina and allowed the cars to drive through the pedestrian area where a good crowd welcomed the cars through the finish arch.

It was especially good to greet the crews who had also competed on the first Marathon in 1988. Mike and Gina Barker were one of the pioneer crews and returned in the same Jaguar XK120 that they had used twenty years before. At the finish line Mike reminded us that in ’88 they still had to drive back to London before the event was finished.

Peter and Betty Banham used an Austin Westminster in 88 but this year had brought a Sebring Sprite. It was only finished on the eve of the event and Peter’s fixing skills were occasionally required to keep the car running, it particularly disliked high altitudes and this was to be a problem on the last couple of days in the Alpes.

Third of the ’88 ers was Ian Grant, accompanied this time by Kenneth Jack. They had a series of problems and decided that setting off for home was the best bet. Unfortunately I heard today that even this was not without problems as they had the transmission fail in France.

Fourth of the original crowd was the Reliant Sabre Six of Richard Prosser – the car having being rebuilt specially for this anniversary event.

Fifth was Richard Thorne, unfortunately his run was cut short with a blown engine on Leg 2, his navigator however stayed on for the week and proved a very able co driver for the FIA Observer.

Sixth of the pioneers was Andy Johnson with Mick Barter. Andy competed in 1988 with the late Bill Smith in a Simca, this year he used a 1967 Toyota Corona that he generally uses for Classic Saloon racing. A lot has changed in 20 years but they did make progress up the leader board finishing in 51st place and Andy was just delighted to have got the rare and unusal drum braked Toyota to the finish.

Seventh was Nicky Porter and Colin Francis, this time he used a 1975 Mercedes-Benz 420 SLC that had been previously rallied by Tony Fowkes – this was the famous Johnsons Rally Wax car.

The eighth competitor from 88 was Jan Pearce in a TR2, they finished 35th overall and narrowly missed out on a class award.

Betty Banham stops-the-clock at the top of Tre Cime.

Competitor notes from the Parsons/Cattermole yellow peril…

The day begun with only 14 seconds between the top two crews so all was to play for over the morning – two tests and three regularities. The first regularity included a very twisty downhill route on broken tarmac and a liberal scattering of pine needles added to the fun! Both the leading crew and ourselves dropped three seconds.

The two tests were both up the steep private road to Tre Cime and raw grunt was going to be a factor so we dropped time to the Alfas that were in our class and moved a little further away from the leaders. For the second test the old Marathon tradition of the co-driver getting out to stop the clock was revived. At the prize giving dinner a short film of the event was shown and this captured some of the scenes where the co driver got the process totally wrong. After breakfast a short transit section took us to a regularity up and down the Giau where seconds were swapped.

After a brief stop at a TC we set off for the two final regularities. A diversion on the penultimate regularity took us onto some very narrow roads to a start manned by fellow ex-competitors Harvey and Jan du Cros – they’d retired a coupe of days ago. This one was fairly straightforward so it was onto the final regularity. As we arrived at the start we were met by the local Caribineri – out to watch and enjoy! I think they were slightly confused by reverse seeding though! Changes in road conditions meant an amendment had to be issued. The Caribineri had moved on into the regularity but thankfully the big Aston Martin DB6 of David MacKay and Tony Davies had gone through in front of us and ensured the road was clear for our smaller car. The final timing point revealed that Malcolm and Iain had retained their lead so all that remained was a simple run into Cortina for the final MTC beneath the clock tower. There were no problems on this section so after a week of very intense and close competition they were declared the winners of the 20th Classic Marathon.

The 20th Classic Marathon had been very well received by all competitors. Anthony Preston had provided a superb route and had managed to avoid most of the tourist traffic that has sometimes plagued past events in this area. The introduction of a tulip road book was generally welcomed and most felt that it had leveled the playing field and had removed the temptations for people to spend weeks on the internet searching out information prior to the event.

Like the route the location of the prize giving dinner had been kept quiet, it was to be at the Rifugio Faloria, and the only way of getting there was by cable car. The staff of the Rifugio had done a magnificent job of transforming the mountain top restaurant into a fitting location for the end of this anniversary event. After a meal and the presentation of the awards we were all entertained by David and Terri Winstanley’s film of the event, concentrating of course in most part on crews mistakes it was a humorous conclusion to a week of competition.

Throughout the evening and as the farewells were said the next day there was a consensus that this was probably the best Marathon to date.

Plans for the 21st Classic Marathon are well under way and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Leg Six: Thursday 19th June
Merano to Cortina

From looking at the time card – seven regularities and one test it didn’t look as though there would be much time to write today – it was also a good reason to eat plenty of the sumptuous breakfast. Just as well for Richard Dresner that there was not a penalty for plate juggling!

The 20th Classic Marathon arrives on the Corso Italia in Cortina at the end of Leg 6

The transit section to the first regularity didn’t leave a lot of room for error , Lisa Lankes and Ingeborg Guliker missed the turning off the autoroute. I bet the ride back up was rather exciting!. This first regularity was a descriptive regularity, now being christened “Prestularity”. As we have come to expect although the regularity looked quite straightforward there was a tricky hairpin junction and a section with a very slow average speed – oddly these are much harder to drive to time, all just to keep us on our toes!

Unfortunately due to some roadworks the next regularity section was cancelled but it was still possible to drive over the Col de Manghen, the lack of competition meaning that we could just enjoy the drive.

Regularity three was made interesting by a few junctions and a short section on an unmade road, the surface made worse by the recent bad weather. The film crew were in evidence here and hopefully should have some good footage of the gravel hairpins.

To finish off the morning there was a test in the car park of the brewery at Pedavena. David Morgan did a couple of spins and Lisa Lankes was in trouble again as she failed to stop astride at the end of the Test, this may have cost her the Alpine Cup that are so coveted.

The lunch following the test was great and a lot of temptation was put in our way with complimentary wine and beer – Drivers of course had no option but to resist and most navigators were also wisely avoiding the alcohol knowing what lay ahead.

The afternoon had a further four regularities – all great but the climb up the Giau was the most memorable. Old cars do overheat (we had the heater on full to help cool the engine). The regularity finished with the panorama of the Sella group – also a fabulous place to ski.

The overnight halt at Merano was in the Steigenberger Hotel which would easily win an award for the “flashiest” hotel of the event, all the rooms were massive and full of lovely details such as leather handles on the wardrobe doors! There was some discussion prior to departure about which was the correct way to leave but once they read the route book correctly they appreciated where the tulips started and it was an easy run out of town.

As we get closer to the end of the event the cars are showing signs of the strain and two more retired today – the Triumph TR4 of David Liddell and Karen Ignatowicz and also the Mercedes-Benz 280SL of Marcel and Alfons Geurts.

The sun was shining as crews arrived in Cortina, a section of the Corso Italia had been cordoned off for the arrival and it was good to see the locals stopping to admire the cars and ask where they had arrived from.

Once the formalities were out of the way the cars moved up to the car park near the hotel and the sweep crews set to work, Richard and Jo McAllister were having yet another battery swap – they regularly swap batteries with fellow competitors as their charging system has failed.

Peter Banham was refixing his exhaust system having caught a rock earlier in the day, the leaders were also seen to be fettling, Malcolm Pickering was having problems with his overdrive, Simon Parson was swapping his wheels round to even out the wear. Andrew and Sarah Mallagh were still smiling even though they had lost the ability to select second and fourth gears, still as they are visiting the 914 International Weekend on the way home there should be plenty of advice available. Fellow DDK members Andrew Isherwood and Hilary Fabrowski are having a great run in their Porsche 911 and adapting very well to the CRA way of doing things.

With four regularities and two tests tomorrow there is plenty of scope for changes tomorrow on the final leg of the 20th Anniversary Marathon.

Leg Five: Wednesday 18th June
Bormio to Merano

It was a later than usual start with the first car not away until 08:30, a transit section up the Gavia started the day, to my mind this is a more attractive pass than the brash (and commercialised) Stelvio. On the way up the Aston Martin of David MacKay and Tony Davies boiled up, rumoured to be because the driver had forgotten to put the radiator cap on! Once again the bottled water provided every day by CES was put to good use. Also in trouble on the Gavia were the Banhams. Their Sebring Sprite had to be towed to the summit. Peter tinkered with the car for the rest of the day and has diagnosed loose distributor weights causing the timing to fluctuate wildly. The descent of the Gavia was even more impressive that the ascent, especially as many of the hairpins are unfenced. Simon also says that the surface has improved considerably since he cycled up it on a tandem (which I think solves the question of where the intelligence in the car resides.... ).

Simon Parson and Trevor Cattermole - Austin Healey Sprite - holding second place overall after Leg 5, dropping only 15 seconds for the day.

The climb to the start of the next regularity, combined with the summer sun meant that a number of cars were overheating – including those fitted with radiator caps! Cars were waiting for the start with their bonnets up. With only one junction to worry about navigation was straightforward but the combination of speed changes and greasy hairpins may well have caused problems, Gerry and Annabel Brown were marshalling the timing point and refused to make any judgment on the ideal time as there was such a wide spread.

Route Designer Anthony Preston demonstrated his sense of humour with the next regularity with the simple instruction – 20.07km End of Regularity!

The rumour mill is grinding again, this time it’s Harvey du Cros’s attempts to have a eco fuelled Austin Healey – let’s hope that they can get the car fixed as they were heading for a good finish.

There was not a lot of time to digest the lunch at Hotel Rita before another regularity along the balcony road. We were fortunate as the local in front had obviously seen a copy of the instructions and drove along at the required average speed. The transit section to the next Time Control didn’t leave much room for dawdling with a cortege and an unexpected road closure. Still with ten minutes penalty free at the control most crews were able to escape penalties.

For the last regularity of the day a combination of speed changes at features and a few key junctions kept everyone of their toes. After which a run through the vineyards took us into Merano and the fabulous Steigenberger Hotel.

The evening awards ceremony was held at the Kurhaus, awards were given for lowest penalty of the day – Andrew and Sarah Mallagh on Leg 4 and David MacKay / Tony Davies on Leg 5. The Syd Stelvio award went to Herman Maas and Peter Rushforth. They had tried to take a short cut through a pedestrian precinct and ended up trapped behind the barriers!

We are really into the Italian Alpes now and are looking forward to another days driving to Cortina. Many crews reckon that this, the 20th Anniversary event has been the best they have done with superb driving roads mixed in with challenging regularities and special tests.

Leg Four: Tuesday 17th June - Evening
The Stelvio Loop

Clarkson and chums call it the best driving road in Europe, running late in the field meant the road was empty, it also meant it was getting darker and the fog thickening. A regularity with three sections was run, starting in the flowery meadows of Trafoi and ending well above the snow line. Navigation was straightforward – only one road to follow. Calling the correct times was difficult, particularly as we lacked the grunt to keep to time on the final section. It was rumoured that the Porsche 911 of Michael and Sebastian Haberl had arrived at the timing line backwards – so that will be something else for the organisers to add into the regulations!

It was clearly a road that favoured the more powerful cars, but to make the times they still needed to be driven well. The Johnson’s Wax Mercedes-Benz of Nicky Porter and Colin Francis overtook four cars, sadly the MGB of Marc Tipping and Tony Jolly was forced to retire due to a failure of the oil pump drive, this was an even greater blow as they were leading at the time.

The Main Time Control was also at the top of the Stelvio so all that was left was a gentle drive back down into Bormio and chance to sample the excellent buffet laid on at the Palace Hotel.

Leg Four: Tuesday 17th June
Mulhouse to Bormio

Lisa Lankes and Ingeborg Guliker - Austin Healey 3000 - in fourth place at the end of Leg 4 are seen here on the Sternenberg regularity section.

It was not quite such an early start out of Mulhouse and a short run down the autoroute took crews to the Main Time Control and test at Sundgau. Apparently this is the longest kart circuit in Europe and this made for an entertaining test., particularly as the rain made the surface very slippery. This test was to however see the retirement of the Moss / Rapier Alpine. The clutch failed and despite having spent the whole day trawling around Mulhouse they were unable to get it repaired and have appeared at Bormio in a hire car. John and Moira Hilbery have also decided not to continue as John is suffering from a severe throat infection.

After the test crews set off for Switzerland and a series of controls linked by both cross country routes and sections on the motorway to help cover the ground of the events longest day.

An excellent lunch was served at the Hotel Rossli overlooking the lake – it being June one would have hoped that this could have been served on the terrace but the weather was against us. The sun came back out in the afternoon and there were many happy faces as crews arrived at the Palace Hotel in the late afternoon but the best of the day was still to come with the evening run up the Stelvio.

After a brief halt in Bormio to unload their baggage crews set off for three regularities culminating on a regularity up the Stelvio. The decision had been taken to run the Stelvio at this time of day to reduce the amount of traffic on the road – the fact that Italy were playing football on this evening was a bonus! Superb, best night’s fun I’ve had in years, awesome were just some of the expressions heard when crews returned. In fairness some of the co drivers were not quite so impressed but hey the drivers deserve some fun. There had been some winding up going on all day as a notice had been posted in the morning saying that the Stelvio web cam had shown snow on the summit. One crew had taken the threat so seriously that they’d set out to see if they could get any snow tyres fitted in time.

A superb buffet was waiting for crews when they returned and as this is written the competitors are still celebrating in the bar.

As would be expected there were a couple of little tricks in the regularities to keep competitors on their toes and even with tulips some missed the occasional slot.

Marc Tipping and Tony Jolly were doing extremely well in their MGB but an engine problem needs further investigation before they decide if they can carry on.

Oldest car on the Marathon and holding a good top twenty placing, the Lagonda LG45 of John Abel and Stephen Bradley

More comments from the Parson/Cattermole yellow peril scribes – one must ask how they find time to write this and do so well – currently second overall!

At the kart circuit Mark I’Anson demonstrated his circuit racing experience by setting a good time, the film crew were on hand to catch any misdemeanors. After leaving the circuit the progression through the Alsace region was rapid. The buildings becoming more Germanic and signs metamorphosing from French, into a mixture and then German but apparently Swiss-German is far removed from orthodox German.

The rolling country soon became more mountainous with limestone gorges, the friendly Dutch marshals were out again with their trusty speed check but we passed – not sure if the free sweets provided by CES helped in this though!

A straightforward regularity through Swiss pastureland worried us as it was not what we’d come to expect from Route Designer Anthony Preston.

The second regularity was of the descriptive format and well judged speeds meant that was possible but any slight mistake was likely to lead to a penalty. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the marshals when competitors matched the ideal time.

Richard Prosser, one of the original 88’ers did extremely well and have spent much of the last two days navigating by time as they had no working trip. This was to be in vain though as today they missed a secret check and incurred a hefty penalty.

On the third regularity of the day both us and the Sebring Spite of Peter and Betty-Ann Banham had overheating problems and this meant we set off behind a dawdling tourist from Lichenstein. Incidentally Peter and Betty are also 88’ers and since competing on that event have been on virtually all other CRA events as one of the teams doing their best to keep all the cars running. On this year’s event their place has been taken by Bill Price and Graham Rood.

The final regularity of the “day” was over the Albulapass. This was a climb on narrow roads that in some places were poorly surfaced. Good practice perhaps for later in the event.

It’s off to Merano tomorrow – another traditional Marathon stop over. It’ll be the first day without a test so good navigation and accurate timekeeping will be required to maintain a competitors position.

Leg Three: Monday 16th June
Luxembourg to Mulhouse

Circuit Geoparc

Leg 2 leaders Malcolm Pickering and Iain Tullie - Sunbeam Alpine - on the St Die Geoparc Test. Heading the leader board, by 3 seconds, at the end of Leg 3 is the MGB of Marc Tipping and Tony Jolly

Our Leg 3 report was delayed as we were dining in the splendour of the Schlumpf Museum automobile collection. The original Marathon had a dinner here on the way back to London so it was appropriate that we also visited this year. Just like the event there have been many changes over the past twenty years but it is great to sit and dine among the cars and only have fellow competitors as museum guests.

Kenny and Amy MacEwan were back into the event after Kenny took an early morning taxi ride to a supplier in Germany to collect a new half shaft. By the time this was fitted they were only able to tackle the latter parts of the day but did manage to break the car yet again on the final test at Wildenstein. It was an easy fix and little time was lost.

Mark and Harry from sponsors CES have been busy handing out goody bags to competitors and also managed to find time to arrange the shipment of a water pump for a competitor.

The day had started with a long run out to the first TC at Delme, those who got their early had a second breakfast whilst the less organized grabbed a breakfast box and ate on the move.

After this was a regularity consistency test at the fabulous Geoparc circuit. As is often the case with these tests some crews managed to do either to few or too many laps. Thankfully we have video evidence that enables us to demonstrate to competitors their failings!

The afternoon included two regularities and the previously mentioned test at Wildenstein.

Comments from the Parson / Cattermole yellow peril duo..

The meal at the Schlumpf was rather strange and was supposed to be local specialties but many decided that it was very similar to Lancashire Hotpot, with a fish and sauerkraut starter!

The transport home was a disappointingly boring bus but there was much speculation as to what would be the preferred car to take home, there was plenty of choice but there was a consensus that a Bugatti Royale would be great for a stop astride but absolutely useless for getting round hairpins. Navigators seemed particularly taken with landaulet / coupe des villes which place the driver out in the elements whilst permitting the navigator to wallow around in the luxury of the cabin.

Leg Two: Sunday 15th June
Ypres to Luxembourg

After the heavy showers that had dampened spirits at the Leg 1 start there was brilliant sunshine for the Sunday start. The majority of the convertible cars were running hood down and Kenny and Amy MacEwan were brave enough to have consigned the hood to the baggage van. This weight saving measure was to little avail as they broke a half shaft on their Triumph TR3 on one of the late regularities. As usual many crews offered their support and various devices were being proffered to extract the broken end of the shaft. Many phone calls were being made trying to locate a local enthusiast who may have a spare shaft.

Continuing the tales of misfortune Richard Thorne and Brian Johnson have had a short event and experienced terminal engine failure in their Morgan.

Modave village

Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson - Reliant Sabre Six - are watched by an enthusiastic local audience in Modave village.

For many the highlight of the day was the test through Modave village. This test was similar to those ran on the early Marathons with a few more restrictions inserted to meet the speeds currently allowed. This test had been arranged with a great deal of assistance from the Motor Club de Huy and particular thanks must also be given to Etienne Massillon. The earlier “factory” test had also proved very popular.

Some comments from the crew of the Yellow Peril Sprite of Simon Parson and Trevor Cattermole...

“Leg 1 was very hectic and in some respects more reminiscent of a Rally of the Tests than a Classic Marathon. Many crews had discovered that the rain showers and cobbled surfaces equaled little grip and many took to the Flanders Fields.

The day was rounded off with a fantastic meal in the Cloth Hall. Local club AC Targa Florio who have helped arrange the test presented awards to the first three crews overall – we were pleased to be one of the leading three crews.

Leg 2 again started with a regularity section, the route of this past some of the cemeteries was a poignant reminder. The organisers had used their skills to select control positions that would have the most potential for penalties.

The second regularity started after the village of Silly, even with tulips many experienced crews wrong slotted and consequently incurred time penalties.

After lunch we tackled a closed road test in the Modave village which seemed to have been enjoyed by most drivers, apparently some navigators were not so keen. As the countryside has become hillier hairpin bends are replacing the 90 left, 90 rights that were so prevalent on Saturday afternoon.

The afternoon regularity sections were just as taxing as the morning with the poor road surfaces meaning that it was often difficult to maintain the required averages, particularly on the downhill hairpins.”

In the car park of the Luxembourg Alvisse Parc hotel there was much work going on. In addition to the work on the TR3 of the MacEwans, Marathon original runner Richard Prosser was having a new speedo cable fitted to his Relaint Sabre Six, John Hilbery had been struggling with an overheating MGB and was in the process of fitting a new water pump in an effort to cure the problem. Others were more fortunate and had time to clean their cars – First timers Andrew and Sarah Mallagh were busy cleaning their Porsche 914/6. The run up to the event and not been quite so calm with a change from fuel injection to carburetors being required to get a running engine.

Full results can be seen on the results pages and the daily updates to this enable all those left behind to keep an eye on how their friends.

The start of the 20th Classic Marathon - Ypres

Mike and Gina Barker - 1st car away in 2008 - 20 years after they started number one on the first Classic Marathon, in the same car.

Leg One: Saturday 14th June
Ypres to Ypres

The opening day proved to be a relatively short – but nonetheless exacting – introduction to the latest CES UK Classic Marathon, as crews left the Ypres Market Square start arch and tackled several tests and Regularities around, and for some competitors in, Flanders fields… The action started with the closed road test near Boezinge, a blast through two chicanes and stop boxes with a bogey time under two minutes, ahead of the route arriving at Café de Zwaan, HQ of the historic section of AC Targa Florio, and the pressure on with a self start Regularity immediately after.

The “Fruit Farm” test followed, with a tortuous run through the estate needing a time of less than a minute if crews were to beat the bogey, and thence into the lanes around the Krombeke stage as used on the 24 Hours of Ypres.

The Watou town square followed, two long closed road tests bringing the rally to the town of Poperinge, three regularities following with some gravel sections just to spice things up, and after those five tests and five regularities in 130 kilometres it was a day to remember !

There were many tales of derring do, Keith Graham and Susan Hoffman sliding past a junction on the Wulfhulle test and needing some rapid reversing in the Healey 3000, Ken Lowe and Diana Dobson faring rather worse as the clutch failed in their Jaguar E-Type. Tony Arnold and Bill Grainger did their MGB no good at all by collecting a concrete post on the Watou test, entertaining the gathered crowds if not themselves, but they fight on. Jim Deacon and Dave Wilson were another MGB crew having a hiccup, missing a control, and Kenny and Amy MacEwan had the disconcerting appearance of the bonnet of their Triumph TR3 appearing in front of their windscreen on a regularity.

Jon Edward / Des Wood - Porsche 911

Leading after Leg 1 - the Porsche 911 of Jon Edward and Des Wood

Tony and Dominic Barron described their day as “interesting”, impressed with the size of the Belgian tractors encountered, certainly much bigger than their Sunbeam Tiger ! Paul Heal and Dick Appleton also had a good day in the MGB GT, though Dick admitted that while the car was fine, the navigator was feeling the strain, not having done the job since 1992. Robert and Janice Price – Volvo 122S – had a moment or two of reflection at one self start regularity…the need for the “ladies room” overtook the memory of needing to be way down the road in the allotted minutes… oops!

Craig and Zoe Scholfield got rather lost in the Ypres lanes, the Ford Escort RS1600 battling on, whilst sadly the Rover P100 of Robert and Susan McClean broke a half shaft just over 3 kilometres into regularity four. Also very unlucky were Ferrari crew Graham Walker and Dave Jones, their car suffering heavy frontal damage in a collision with a speeding VW, leaving them no option but retirement and to freight the car home – a sad end for the beautiful car, but thankfully with no injury to the crew.

Car 81 – Chris Munton and Lyn Gaud – in the Triumph Stag went off on a ninety right on a test, preferring the attractions of a potato field rather than the road… thereafter it was a split decision… chips or mashed !

Richard Thorne and Brian Johnson at car five were in fact running last after huge problems in England getting the Morgan to run properly, changing distributor and carbs before finally making the start. John and Nicky Walsh experienced a “360” on a muddy spot on a regularity, ending up with barbed wire wrapped around the Triumph TR2, whilst Paul Bloxidge and Dennis Greenslade endured a slipping Halda daylong in Jaguar XK 140.

Heading the leader board after Leg One is Jon Edward and Des Wood in the Porshe 911 (see the separate results pages) although as we close up for the night there are a number of un-resolved queries in the pipeline relating to the final Regularity of the day so there may be some changes to come.

Before the Start

As crews gathered in the historic town of Ypres in Belgium preparing for the start of the 20th Classic Marathon supported by CES UK, the square alongside the majestic “Cloth Hall” was filled with the superb entry, cars from diminutive Sebring Sprites to a massive LagondaBentleys lined up to take the start, within sight of the Menin Gate, the evocative memorial to the fallen in conflict.

The seventy eight starters in the rally were looking ahead to seven days of competition on this most successful of classic events, the one that started it all twenty years ago as it began the long distance adventure of historic rallying through Europe.

Pre start drama began at Dover, as traffic jams delayed entry into the port, though everyone made it successfully – at Ypres the support crews were busy pre-start, the Sunbeam Rapier of Michael Moss / Howard Atkins needing a new differential, freighting in the new parts overnight and fitted by Andy Inskip on Saturday morning.

Competing on this event – rather than providing rally car support – are Peter and Betty Banham, their 998 Healey Sprite first driven to Ypres from their home, so something of a baptism of fire for both car and crew on this occasion.

With a first day of competition around Ypres, aided by the sterling efforts of officials from the AC Targa Florio – Belgiums oldest motor club – including a special test around the town square in Watou, and a series of challenging Regularity sections in the maze of lanes near Westover and Kemmel, names of legend from the history of the famed 24 Hours of Ypres Rally.

So… after twenty successful and evocative years of long distance rallying through Europe and beyond, the latest Classic Marathon is underway and heading again for the Alpine Passes…the goal is – as it was on the first event in 1988 - the jewel of the Italian Dolomites - Cortina D’Ampezzo - in seven days time, seven days never to be forgotten.