In the Spirit and Style of the 1950s 
Contact UsBack   

Event Reports and Results

Event Reports and Results from The 2006 Rally of the Tests

Find day by day results >> HERE

The 77 page results booklet with Award winners, overall and daily results plus test and regularity listings is available on the Downloads page, or quick link >> HERE


Robert Harley and Trina Walsh are greated by Fred Bent an the Bournemouth finish of the 6th Rally of the Tests

Leg Three - Taunton to Bournemouth

At the conclusion of the Rally of the Tests in Bournemouth there was widespread comment that it had been the best event yet. Fred Bent, Anthony Preston and George Mullins had worked as a team with each stretching their own talents to the overall benefit of the event. This was backed up by Chief Marshal Bob Redhead’s skills at finding over 500 officials to man the controls and tests.

For the first time the event has a Dutch winner – Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhof were a pre event favourite and at the end they had a good lead over the Lotus Elite of Peter Joy and Matt Fowle, Peter did however have the compensation of getting the Best on Tests awards for the lowest total test penalties. Mickey Gabbett and Michael Jackson took third in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super, just 40 seconds behind Peter. John Bateson and Mark I’Anson were fourth in the MGA and the new pairing of Gerry Brown and Cath Woodman took fifth. The next car home was the Mini Cooper of Kevin haselden and Dave Kirkham but being a post 62 car they were only eligible for class awards. Howard Warren and Brian Goff’s Porsche 911 was also ineligible for overall awards so in sixth place was another new pairing – Tom Callanan and Chris Towers. Seventh went to Test Regulars James O’Mahony and Paddy McDonnell, fatherhood does not seem to be slowing James down! It was another TR in eighth – the ex works car of Tony Sheach and Rob Kiff also won the Concours d’Elegance. In ninth was the Riley 1.5 of Arthur Senior and Colin Francis, this crew probably have the oldest combined age – and that’s without including the car! As is usually the case the car had it’s obligatory mid event head gasket change, when somebody asked Colin where Arthur was he said “he’s adjusting the brakes - I don’t know why, we haven’t been going quick enough to wear them out”. Perhaps this proves that accurate navigation and test driving is enough to score a good result.

The lower positions had been more volatile than the top and when the results were published in Bournemouth there was a block of six cars split by just twenty seconds, one of these crews was the Mini Cooper of Dave Smith and Andrew Duerden – it was a late substitution for the Vauxhall originally entered, rumour has it that Andrew did not want to take a Vauxhall through the ford at Weston Park….

Dave Axten had dusted off his MG Magnette and brought out Robert Brook for a first taste of historic rallying – Nothing wrong with Robert’s navigation but Dave did manage to visit the scenery a few times, one of the visit’s damaged his newly bought replacement spotlights – thankfully he’d bought the cheapest ones in the shop, some crew wag had put a banger racing style number on the roof in the car park at Taunton! The Humber Super Snipe of Shaun Arnold and Richard Lambley was also sporting a roof sign late in the event but this time it was “Taxi”.

Spirit of the Rally went to Catherine Stewart and Rupert Jennings – the entry had been given to Catherine as a birthday present by her husband, leading up to the event her concern had been whether the children would have clean clothes for Monday morning – these worries were soon banished once the event had started but at the end she was after friends John and Sharen Halfpenny who had perhaps been a bit liberal in their description of how difficult the event would be! The Against All Odds Trophy went to the Singer Chamois of Gary and Jane Edginton, not only had they had lots of dramas prior to the event they also had dramas mid event – it was suggested that next time they should tow another car behind them to provide all the required spares!

The new Nations Cup award was won by England but both the Dutch and Irish have promised strong teams for next year – could this become the historic rallying equivalent of the Ashes!

Karen Gaffney was awarded the Whistle and Flute trophy for the best period outfits, Carol Swain got the Top Hat trophy, a small consolation for the time they spent parked up in a Somerset Lane waiting for a man in a recovery truck.

Despite the best efforts of the sweep crews there was a higher than usual retirement rate but thankfully the problems were generally not too severe but not the sort of thing that could be repaired at the side of the road.

The final test was held on the seafront at Bournemouth and much assistance had been provided by Jennifer Impett of the Events Department at Bournemouth Council. It was the best attended finish by far with many CRA regulars out to come and see their friends. Local motoring journalist Chris Adamson arranges a “Classics on the Prom” event every Sunday and there was an excellent display of cars ranging from pre war MG’s through to American muscle cars.

Fred and the team are already making plans for the 2007 Rally of the Test and will be striving to further improve this unique event.

Peter Joy and Matt Fowle in the Lotus Elite are holding on to second place at the end of Leg Two

Leg Two - Telford to Taunton

After another action packed day it was a group of tired but happy competitors tucked into the buffet at Taunton. Despite the early start from Telford the favourable weather conditions helped make it an enjoyable day – even those who have had problems came into Taunton with a broad grin on their faces.

First retirement of the day was the Jaguar of John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade, an engine failure being the cause, soon to join them was the Sunbeam Harrington of John and Joanne Ingham, this time the differential was the cause. Several other cars did an abbreviated route and arrived at the hotel early. The evening section through the Somerset and Devon Lanes saw another couple of cars either cutting to the finish or needing recovery but they are a resourceful group and many cars that would normally be considered retired will probably make it down to Bournemouth for the final test and finish ceremony. The camaraderie that exists between both competitors and fellow enthusiasts ensures that parts seem to materialise from nowhere. David MacKay and Tony Davies are not keen on Day 2 of the Rally of the Tests, for the second year in succession they were forced to spend the day having the car repaired – this time it was the pulley bolt on the water pump that failed.

The many first time Testers have been full of praise for the event even if it has been tougher than they expected but surely there can be no doubt that this is the premier historic road event in the UK.

Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhof, currently have a lead of just over a minute from the Lotus Elite of Peter Joy and Matt Fowle, Mickey Gabbett and Michael Jackson are a further two minutes down in third place, next up in the penalties is the Mini Cooper of Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham but as this is a post 62 car it is not eligible for overall awards. Holding fourth is John Bateson and Mark I’Anson in the MGA but they only have a one second lead over Brown and Woodman in the Ford Zodiac. Next up is another Post 62 car – this time the immaculate Porsche 911 of Howard Warren and Brian Goff. Tony Sheach and Rob Kiff are leading their class in the ex-works Triumph TR4 – Tony showing real commitment on the driving tests.

Charles Graves and Ron Palmer are yet another crew not to make it to Taunton, this time it was the clutch on their Jagaur XK150 that prevented them going any further. It’s not been a good event for Mercedes-Benz, as well as the retirement of Frank Fennell today saw the retirement of Philip Armstrong and Frank Hussey – rumour has it that the fuel injection system has failed.

Leading the “best improvement on seeding” award goes to the Morris Minor of Giles Hutchison and Guy Lachlan, at one stage it looked as though they would not leave Llandudno under their own power but they have now worked themselves up to 29th place.

Regular auto tester Ted Gaffney is a joy to watch on the tests in his Mini and wife Karen has a permanent grin on her face as Ted chucks the car around the cones.

There is only the leg across to Bournemouth left now before the celebrations begin in the bar but with seven tests and three regularities there is still plenty of scope for the leaderboard to change.

Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhoff - Alfa Romeo - lead by 29 seconds from Peter Joy and Matt Fowle at the end of Leg One
Leg One - Llandudno to Telford

Wow, what a day, after a bright but cold start from Llandudno the weather soon deteriorated and the conditions on the Tests became more treacherous. First to go off in the test at Vaynol Hall was the Volvo Amazon of Chris Pearson and Rob Faulkner, they were soon followed by the Ford Anglia of Cliff England and Peter Rushforth. With a bit of a push and some careful clutch control the Anglia soon regained the road but the Volvo had to wait for a tow before escaping the muddy conditions. Both cars were undamaged and able to carry on.

Paul Bloxidge, accompanied by son James was very fortunate to break down close to home so a detour was made to resolve the gearbox problem. They rejoined later in the day, hoping that the temporary repairs would last until Bournemouth. The tests seemed to be taking their toll on gearboxes with the Mini of Jane and Kenny MacEwan also succumbing with what was though to be a loose flywheel. Another Mini with gearbox problems was Colin Forster and Dave Harvey, in this case the problem being with the remote linkage.

Lunch (and a test) was taken at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns before crews headed east into the Clocaenog forest for a regularity section, Tests virgin Catherine Stewart struck a rock on this section and damaged the clutch slave cylinder, the Banhams made a temporary fix and the car was limped to Telford, thankfully Marion the Hotel Receptionist is a motor sport enthusiast and got on the phone and an hour later a part arrived and the Healey will leave in the morning with an operational clutch.

Not so lucky was the MG Midget of Paul Hargreaves and David Naylor, Paul had not driven a Midget for 30 years but was just mastering his new toy when the feed pipe to the oil pressure gauge burst and there was a sudden loss of oil pressure – the car was last seen on the back of a transporter.

Pre event favourite Frank Fennell will be going no further, the sight of them being jump started on the promenade at Llandudno was perhaps a clue that all was not well, they completed most of the day without a working dynamo and a transmission fault was the final nail in the coffin.

The Sunbeam Harrington Le Mans of Ross and Alison Butterworth had head gasket failure but they got the car to Telford and as this is written they are out in the car park with mechanic John Roseblade doing the change, this is Alison’s first event and quite a baptism of fire. Sunbeam Harrington team mates John and Joanne Ingham also had the bonnet up with John delving around the inlet manifold with his spanners. Official mechanic Andy Inskip was busy changing the condenser on Nurse Jo Williams Sprite whilst Betty Banham was wielding a hammer to remove a 6 inch nail from the tyre of the course car! A very smart looking Gary Edgington had removed the gearbox from his Singer Chamois and was busy replacing the output drive, at the time his biggest concern seemed to be that he might get a penalty tomorrow for not wearing period clothes!

The highlight of last year’s event for many crews was Swynnerton, this time there was the added challenge of it being dark but at least the junction letters were reflective this time.

The final part of the evening was two regularity sections in Weston Park, again the fact that the section was run in the dark added to the mystique as there were few identifiable landmarks. It was a relief to many to come across the timing points and passage controls as it proved they were on the right road!

Leading at the moment is the Alfa Romeo Giulia of Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhof, with the event running reverse seeding we reckon that this will be the first time that Bert has ever been the last car to start a rally, in second is the Lotus Elite of Peter Joy and Matt Fowle with early leader Mickey Gabbett dropping back to third. Taking the fourth spot is Gerry Brown and Cath Woodman - proving a formidable new partnership in the big Ford Zodiac.

Throughout the end of day meal there was a great deal of good natured banter and many "if only ..." tales.

The Saturday leg from Taunton to Telford is even longer but possibly across more forgiving terrain, but there will be a sting in the tail with an evening section through the Somerset lanes.

Tom Callanan and Chris Towers being flagged away by the Mayor of Llandudno at the start of the 6th Rally of the Tests.

The Prologue - Thursday

Welcome to the first on event report from the 6th Rally of the Tests. Widely recognised as being the UK’s premier historic road rally over 70 crews have been attracted to the Llandudno start.

The dry sunny day showed off Llandudno well for those enjoying the seaside air while scrutineering was carried out within the confines of the Victoria Shopping Centre car park where there was cover if the weather had been more as expected in November.

Many crews had arrived on Wednesday evening and there was an eager queue of co drivers waiting to collect their final route instructions from the rally office. Fred Bent and Anthony Preston had worked many long hours to compile nearly 100 pages of test diagrams, regularity instructions and tulips to guide crews over the next three days. This was in addition to the 80 page route book that had been posted out in advance with details of the link sections.

The route information for Thursday evening’s prologue section was held back and only released just before competitors were due to start, it was based around the Great Orme and was considered to be the best prologue yet on Rally of the Tests, what started off in Scarborough many years ago as a simple test has grown into two tests and two regularities with multiple timing points!

The leader after this little lot was the Irish crew of Mickey Gabbett and Michael Jackson. Perhaps this will make up for their self imposed fine earlier on in the day when they failed to comply with the local parking regulations! Following on from them was the new Irish / Anglo pairing of Tom Callanan and Chris Towers but they both have three second penalties and only a further second behind is the Dutch crew of Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhof. It’s another Irish crew O’Mahony and McDonnell in fifth and the first all English crew is Charles Graves and Ron Palmer, followed closely by Richard Prosser and Robert Ellis while last year’s winner Frank Fennell is in seventh. When you look at this is it any wonder that it was the Irish who were strongly in favour of the Nations Cup – a new award where eligibility criteria is still hotly debated as to whether it’s a competitor’s actual nationality or current country of residence that counts.

The mechanical sweep crews were kept busy as usual and this included the usual head gasket change on Arthur Senior’s Riley, rumour has it the cylinder head is now held on with wing nuts to make it that bit quicker, still they’d had some practice on the Mini Cooper S of Jim Elston – far, far harder than on the Riley due to the transverse engine layout.

Light problems were the order of the day for many with Geoff Breakell’s brake light switch failing, Nigel Raeburn clouting it with a hammer did it no good at all! Barry Weir had brought along his immaculate Healey 3000 but new co driver Peter Ward was dismayed to find that it had no map lights – only previously having been used on day events.

Michael Moss was feeling very lonely, not only had Son Richard failed to get off the train at the right station but his Rapier was the only one in the event, perhaps it’s about time a handicapping system was introduced to encourage more 50’s saloon cars out again. Dave Axten has dusted down (lightly) his old MG Magnette and it was good to see him back behind the wheel – he is one of the rare breed that is also very capable with the maps and timing.

Robert Harley and Trina Walsh stopped on the measured distance check with a broken rotor arm in their TR3, still better to stop their than on a timed section later in the event – it seems that much of the replacement components being supplied today are imported and of poor quality.

It’s a busy day ahead tomorrow including a couple of sections on Anglesey and a regularity through a Welsh Forest before evening sections taking the cars south to an overnight halt in Telford.