The 11th Rally of the Tests

The Final Results for the 11th Rally of the Tests are >> HERE
Download the 94-page fully detailed results book (700kb pdf) >> HERE

Prologue Report

Torquay lived up to it’s English Riviera name with a warm and sunny day to greet competitors for the 11th edition of the Rally of the Tests. HQ was at the Grand Hotel, once a favoured haunt of Agatha Christie, and just across the road Torquay Rugby Club graciously allowed the use of their car park for scrutineering and noise checks.

The event had attracted a quality field with representatives from all the previous winning crews, and three World Rally Championship co drivers from the 80’s out to do battle again. But the event also welcomed it’s fair share of new competitors with nearly 40 receiving their “novice cross” from new Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock. Fittingly the first two crosses were awarded to Fred Bent – Clerk of the Course and general mastermind of the first 10 events and Fred Gallagher, Clerk of the Course for Rally GB for the last 18 years.

Competitors dramas tend to start on their way to the start and this year’s event has been no exception. First we had a call from Dutch crew Rob Van der Leeuw and Peter Van Egmond. Their Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint had broken down near Calais, undaunted they returned home to get Rob’s Austin Healey 3000. They then drove through the night to get to Torquay in time for Scrutineering. Brian Cope and Alan Pettit were not so lucky, the exhaust manifold broke on Brian’s Cortina GT and despite valiant efforts of a local garage they were not able to get it repaired and had to withdraw.

Others had less serious dramas but former winner Paul Wignall needed to call upon the services of the sweep crews to resolve some wiring problems. At the start, later on in the evening, it looked as though they may not be the only ones with wiring issues as several cars had flickering lights. Oh the joys of motoring with 50 year old cars!

The Prologue started just up the road from the Grand in the little village of Cockington with the Main Time Control located in the traditional Drum Inn.

As some of you will know, long-time CRA route maestro - Keith Baud - lives just a stone’s throw from Torquay and he has worked with us to put together this evening’s action so who better to pen a few lines about his “home patch” and what lay ahead.

“The English Riviera resort of Torbay is made up of three distinct communities spread around the safe anchorage of an east facing bay. Torquay, the biggest, came to prominence in the Victorian age when the newly invented railways allowed travellers from all over the country easy access to its sub-tropical charms.

Paignton is an older community, but unashamedly the “bucket and spade” resort of the trio, whilst Brixham at the southern end of the bay remains one of Britain’s major fishing ports. However man was living in Torbay long before the Victorians made it popular. Evidence of the oldest human habitation in Britain was found at Kents Cavern, whilst similar finds were also made in caves at Brixham.

Brixham also saw the last successful invasion of England when, on November 5th 1688 William, Prince of Orange, landed with 21,000 Dutch troops to become King of England with his wife Mary. Quite why he landed in a small Devon fishing village 200 miles from London is not clear, but maybe Dutch navigators were not as good as they are now! William’s statue still stands on the harbour side at Brixham.

Torquay was the birthplace of famous crime writer Agatha Christie, and the Grand Hotel (Rally HQ) was one of her favourite spots. Many of the surrounding places and villages featured in her novels.

Torquay was also the finish town of the very first RAC Rally 80 years ago in 1932 while motor sport connections continue at the event start venue of Cockington Court. From 1654 until 1935 this medieval manor house was owned by the Mallock family, ancestors of Major Arthur Mallock, creator of the U2 Clubmans sports-racing car, and his two sons Ray and Richard, who are still involved in motorsport to this day."

The Evening Prologue consisted of three tests on private land plus a couple of regularities through the notoriously narrow lanes of South Devon. The first of these starts right from the drop of the flag at Cockington – it was great to have Mayor Roger Stringer and his wife Shelagh to drop the flag and they stayed for every car which was a nice gesture. Cllr Stringer is the proud owner of a 1952 Bentley R Type so perhaps one day when his Civic duties are over we may see him out on one of our less taxing events!

Five crews were penalty free on the first regularity including our first ever Swedish crew of Anna and Hans Sylvan, in the Porsche 924 Turbo – another Test’s first. But then Hans is one of the previously mentioned WRC co drivers. Also clean were Colin Evans / Nigel Raeburn - MGB GT, Shaun Arnold / Richard Lambley – Volvo Amazon, Roy Gillingham / David Taylor – MGA and finally Paul Stephens / Alan Smith – Triumph Dolomite Sprint.

The first test of the evening was aptly named Seaside Slalom with Ryan Pickering / Lisa Marshall heading the field, some 15 seconds quicker than winner of the 10th edition of the Tests Dermot Carnegie in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint. Ryan and Lisa were also quickest on the second and third tests – it’s rare for a crew to achieve a clean sweep.

There had been plenty of crews who’d struggled on the night, with many missing slots and consequently gaining penalties. John Abel and John Dennett in the Sunbeam Tiger unfortunately had problems with the differential and decided to go home and have subsequently returned with their Bentley to run as a course car.

At the end of the evening all crews returned to the Grand for a welcome dinner and after a couple of drinks the dramas of the evening had been retold many times but there is a long way to go yet and what seemed a major issue at the time will probably pale into insignificance by Sunday night.

The Results Team worked swiftly to get the results posted up by the end of the Dinner. Howard Warren and Matt Fowle headed the list but they along with the next two crews – Peter Naaktgeboren / Bart den Hartog  and Kevin Haselden / Tony Davies were all in Post '62 cars so not eligible for overall awards. Leading the overall award cars at the end of the Prologue was the TR4 of Tony Sheach and Rob Kiff. Three cars were just a second behind, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Paul Wignall / Mark Appleton, the Mini of Ted Gaffney / Chris Towers and the Porsche 356 of Neil Wilson / Matthew Vokes. Another two cars were only a second further back.


Route map 2012

Event Introduction

For over a decade, The Rally of the Tests has travelled the length and breadth of Great Britain seeking out classic test venues, driving the most scenic routes, tackling the more challenging roads and returning to many of the halts and starting and finishing points of the 1950’s. Under the leadership of new Clerk of the Course - Guy Woodcock, this ethos will continue in 2012, with the chance to tackle many iconic rally sections as well as visit some new venues “never used for motorsport before”.

Marking the 80th anniversary of the RAC Rally, the chosen starting town is the English Riviera resort of Torquay, which was the finishing point for that very first event back in 1932. Over the next three and a bit days of rallying, crews will enjoy wonderful scenery and fabulous traffic-free roads in the classic rally territory of the West Country and Wales before arriving at the finish in the historic city of Chester, host town to many an RAC Rally over the years.

As well as seeking out tradition, the “Tests” has also built a special atmosphere all of its own, combining closely fought competitive motoring with a great social side. Rallying is a team sport created to test and be enjoyed by both driver and navigator. The objective of the Rally of the Tests is to present such a test for both crew members and perhaps more importantly the opportunity to have fun. We hope you will join us in November and when you reach the finish in Chester, over a celebratory drink, you can determine if that objective has been achieved!

 Rally of the Tests style Testing

Classic roads, historic venues and the authentic style of the Fifties on The Rally of the Tests