ROVER RULES ON RALLY THE GLOBE’S EPIC ROAD TO HANOI MARATHON

  • British saloon scores surprise win in awesome South East Asian adventure
  • Chevrolet Fangio takes top honours in Pre-War category
  • Awe-inspiring journey through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos
  • Four more outstanding events to follow in 2024

In a spectacular start to 2024, Rally the Globe’s first ever driving adventure in the Far East – the Road to Hanoi Marathon (27 January to 23 February) – was an incredible journey of discovery through the byways of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. It was also the not-for-profit club’s second consecutive ‘Marathon’ category event following swiftly after its super-successful Alaska to Mexico foray into North America.

Set 8,000 miles apart on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, both escapades were long-distance driving journeys with the emphasis on endurance and exploration, during which participants faced an inspiring mix of challenging on- and off-road sections.

While similarly awesome in concept, both were very different in terms of geography, ethnicity, climate, character and cuisine. And both produced four very different category winners. While Fords had ruled in their US fatherland, in Asia the spoils were shared between triumphant crews aboard Chevrolet Fangio and Rover P6 entries ­­– the latter a rare rallying success for the one time bastion of deluxe motoring for the British middle classes.

The action started from Ho Chi Minh City – aka Saigon – with the first few days spent traversing southern Vietnam before crews headed into Cambodia and crossed the mighty Mekong River. The 4,300 mile (6,900km) route then pressed northwards into Thailand before entering Laos and eventually returning to the Ho Chi Minh Trail and mountains of northern Vietnam en route to the finish, nearly four weeks later, in historic Hanoi.

Rewarding both driving and navigational skills, the intrepid itinerary included around 40 Regularity Sections on quiet minor roads – some of which were loose-surface – plus 15 Speed Tests at venues such as race tracks, sports stadia and roads specially closed for the purpose by the local police.

Moreover, six well-chosen rest days provided participants not only with the chance to make running repairs to their cars but also for sight-seeing excursions to must-see tourist attractions such as the Angkor Wat temple complex and Ha Long Bay, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With so much ahead to savour, an excited field of 26 entries, representing no fewer than 10 nationalities, took the start. In age, the cars ranged from a 1929 Chrysler 75 Roadster to a Porsche 911 and Mercedes Benz 350 SL from 1974. In between were five Mercedes-Benzes, a trio of both Bentleys and Volvos plus a pair of Ford Escorts while a Jaguar Mk2, Ford Mustang Convertible and Fiat 124 Spider all added to the eclectic mix.

Manuel and Irene Dubs, winners of the Pre-War category in the Alaska to Mexico Marathon, had swapped their victorious Ford Coupe for a distinctive 1932 Rockne Six 75. An early gearbox failure, though, robbed them of any hopes of a back-to-back win.

The unfortunate demise of the Studebaker produced American machine handed the early advantage to Swiss speedsters Daniel Sauter and Martin Reubel in their 1938 Chevrolet Fangio; they were hotly pursued by Keith and Norah Ashworth aboard their 1927 Bentley 4½ Le Mans and Nigel Dowding and Mary Antcliff in their 1934 Aston Martin Mark II.

By the end of the first week, however, the plucky 1495cc Aston had surpassed its far bigger engined rivals and the little giant-killer seemed on target for an heroic triumph until it shed a rear wheel with the finish almost in sight. Its retirement gave the Chevrolet – now co-driven by Severin Senn – a clear run to the finish.

“It’s really been a fantastic journey and an amazing event,” enthused a delighted Sauter. “I like these marathon events – I like to drive long and fast. The organisation has been first class and the spirit among all the competitors has been great; we’ve met new people and made new friends and had a lot of fun together. This definitely won’t be my last such rally with RtG.”

The battle in the classic category was even closer and although the Rover P6, expertly crewed by Peter and Louise Morton, always seemed in control at the front, podium battles raged throughout.

Having eschewed one of their normal Bentleys for a pacier 1973 Porsche 911, Graham and Marina Goodwin finally finished second after fending off the 1961 Volvo PV544 of Nigel and Sally Woof. Alaska to Mexico category winners Ean and Alison Lewin had to settle for fifth place in their now very well-travelled 1973 Ford Escort RS1600.

“Weve had an accurate trip meter, a reliable car and a big dose of luck which have all played their part,” acknowledged Peter Morton who defied expectations in the P6. “Everyone said we were mad to have a Rover as they break down, but my dad had one and I wanted to persist. The car was incredible… as was the organisation and the camaraderie amongst the competitors. Its been a great event with plenty of rest days in some lovely places, the sort of places you really wouldnt want to just drive through.”

The hard-working Rally the Globe team was equally pleased to have further enhanced its world class reputation having overcome considerable obstacles to stage yet another highly acclaimed driving adventure.

“The Road to Hanoi has been rescheduled twice thanks to COVID and unrest in Myanmar but, after the last four weeks on the road, I think that we can say it was worth the wait,” proclaimed Rally Director Fred Gallagher, who also praised all the efforts of the entire Rally the Globe team and its travel partners on the ground. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and its clear that everyone else has too!”

Clerk of the Course Mark Appleton was equally effusive thanking all those responsible for putting together such a memorable route and the spirit in which the competitive elements were tackled by the crews. “There have been some long days and some challenging roads but I think that South East Asia was a great place to stage a marathon event,” surmised Appleton.

In addition to the overall and class trophies, a pair of notable discretionary awards were also presented at the prizegiving in Hanoi. The Spirit of the Rally award was scooped by two newcomers to the world of endurance rallying, Clive Hopkins and Charles Gooch, for wholeheartedly throwing themselves into the event in their brightly coloured Ford Mustang. The Against all Odds trophy was taken by Enrico Paggi and Federica Mascetti who battled back from three blown head gaskets and a melted piston in their Fiat Spider to make the finishing line.

While delighted with their latest escapade, the Rally the Globe team has no time to rest on its laurels with four more standout events lined up for the remainder of the year. Next up is the third running of the award-winning Generations Rally (22-24 March) followed by the Vintage Shamrock (6-9 May) which is organised in partnership with Irish Racing Green. Two continental ventures then swiftly follow: Carrera Bavaria (16-26 June) and Austria to Athens Challenge (29 September – 13 October).

Rally the Globe’s ensuing endurance style event is next year’s Islands of Japan Marathon (24 September – 21 October 2025). While the Generations Rally is fully-subscribed, a limited number of entries are still available for other forthcoming events.

CLASSIC INSURANCE SERVICES ANNOUNCES SPONSORSHIP OF THE 2024 GENERATIONS RALLY

We are delighted to announce that Classic Insurance Services, part of the Kingfisher Insurance family, will be sponsors of the 2024 Generations Rally.

Specifically designed for crews from different generations, the Generations Rally encourages the continuation of passion for historic motorsport and the enjoyment of exceptional vehicles. Taking place on 22nd – 24th March, the Rally route starts in Cheshire before crossing the border into Wales taking in the stunning scenery of the Clywdian and Cambrian mountains, before returning back to Cheshire.

As a leading provider of private client insurance, the sponsorship demonstrates Classic Insurance Service’s commitment to not only protecting but securing the enjoyment of these often unique pieces of automotive history for future generations.

Rally the Globe COO and Clerk of the Course, Mark Appleton commented:

“We are delighted to have Classic Insurance Services on board for the Generations Rally.  They share RtG’s founding ethos of preserving and promoting the use of vintage and classic cars both right now, and into the future.   Like us, they take pride in delivering a far-reaching, class-leading professional service without forgetting about the friendly and personal touches that make all the difference.”

Carole Pearson, Head of Classic Insurance Services added:

“We understand the excitement and thrill that can come from historic rallying and as a leading Private Client insurer we are dedicated to the protection (and enjoyment!) of fantastic vehicles – values that we know are shared with the Generations Rally team and participants.

“Classic Insurance Services are part of the wider Kingfisher Insurance family, and through this can  arrange cover for our clients’ vehicle collections and motorsport activity through our sister division Reis Motorsport Insurance.”

About Classic Insurance Services

Classic Insurance Services are specialists in arranging insurance for valuable vehicle collections, high value homes and property portfolios. As part of the Kingfisher Insurance family, and as one of the leading Private Client insurance brokers, they are committed to delivering excellent service and trusted to protect their clients’ most valuable assets and possessions.

Find out more at: https://www.classicinsuranceservices.com/

RALLY THE GLOBE GEARS UP FOR AN EPIC NEW YEAR OF DRIVING ADVENTURES

• For the first time ‘Marathon’, ‘Challenge’ and ‘Carrera’ events will all feature on a single year’s calendar
• Generations Rally and Vintage Shamrock already sold out 
• Bavarian delight set to surprise in the late summer sunshine 
• “It promises to be our best year yet,” predicts Fred Gallagher

2023 was a momentous year for Rally the Globe culminating in the not-for-profit club’s first long-distance ‘Marathon’ style event – an epic 7,500 mile (12,000kms) driving adventure from chilly Alaska to sun-drenched Mexico across no fewer than 38 lines of latitude.

Soon 2024 will dawn with an even more enthralling and spectacular programme of unforgettable motoring odysseys for vintage and classic cars.

For the first time, Rally the Globe will be offering ‘Carrera’ and ‘Challenge’ as well as ‘Marathon’ style competitive escapades all within a single year of its eagerly-anticipated globe-trotting calendar.

The year commences in grand style in South East Asia with the Road to Hanoi Marathon (27 January-23 February) with two continental European ventures to follow: Carrera Bavaria (16-26 June) and Austria to Athens Challenge (30 September – 13 October).

The comprehensive five event schedule also includes two established favourites based closer to home: the third running of the award-winning Generations Rally (22-24 March), and the Vintage Shamrock (6-9 May) which is organised in partnership with Irish Racing Green.

“Generations and the Vintage Shamrock have swiftly established themselves as much-loved – and significant – staples on our calendar,” confirmed Mark Appleton, Rally the Globe’s busy Clerk of the Course. “The former encourages younger participants to enjoy our sport while, set in stunning Irish scenery, the latter never fails to deliver all the hospitality and charm for which Ireland is so renowned.”

Endorsing their popularity, both those events are already at full capacity with Reserve Lists open. Both also offer participants eye-catching new vistas with new locations for 2024. Next year’s Generations Rally will be based in the heart of the Cheshire countryside and includes Tests and Regularity Sections in the midst of the Welsh mountains while now in its fifth year the Vintage Shamrock, a celebration of pre-war motoring, moves north in the Emerald Isle to the ancient kingdom of Connacht including a visit to the spectacular Connemara.

“It promises to be our best year yet with something special for all our members,” confirmed Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s vastly experienced Rally Director.

“As our second Marathon, the Road to Hanoi is going to be an incredible journey of discovery on the trails of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, and our two continental expeditions will offer many, perhaps surprising delights with routes travelling through often undiscovered regions.”

Indeed, Gallagher has just returned from driving the entire Carrera Bavaria itinerary  and was bowled over by the ever-changing beauty of the scenery, the excellence of the luxurious hotels and the availability of traffic-free roads and test tracks along the way.

“Southern Germany really is a truly incredible area that is all too often overlooked by travellers. It ranges from the wine regions in the north to the majesty of the Alps in the south, via medieval villages, crystal clear lakes and the famed Black Forest,” enthused the incredibly well-travelled Gallagher.

“I’ve got to say I was amazed and delighted by what our crews are going to experience in the late summer sunshine. The underestimated beauty and deserted roads are certainly going to astound many, while the many added attractions – including trips to notable museums and the Porsche Experience circuit at Hockenheim – will delight others. I had a big smile on my face all the way!”

The ever-industrious and creative Rally the Globe team has well-founded high expectations for the Austria to Athens Challenge, too. For the more intrepid – and visiting seven countries in 14 days – this two week competitive automotive adventure is set on a mix of asphalt and gravel roads from the Alps, through the lesser-known parts of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania all the way down the Balkans to the wonders of the ancient capital of Greece by the warm waters of the Aegean Sea.

While many events are already at capacity a few places remain open for both Carrera Bavaria and the Austria to Athens Challenge. Looking further ahead, entries for both the 2025 Generations Rally and Vintage Shamrock will open in March and May respectively. Moreover, Rally the Globe is starting to plan a third Marathon – Islands of Japan Marathon, which will be an incredible journey through the cultural and topographical landscapes of faraway Japan in the Autumn.

“There’s no standing still,” confirmed the highly-regarded Appleton who has just returned from an initial recce of sections of the outstanding Austria to Athens route. “With five very different events on the calendar, 2024’s portfolio is perfectly primed to build on our many recent successes and we are already starting to explore the globe for further wonderful driving adventures thereafter. We never stop moving!”

AUSTRIA TO ATHENS CHALLENGE – ENTRIES NOW OPEN!

Taking place from 30 September to 13 October, the two-week competitive rally will traverse 4,000km across seven European countries, starting in the Austrian Alps and finishing by the warm waters of the Aegean Sea.

Highlights will include Slovenian picture-postcard landscapes; exceptional seascapes on the Dalmatian Coast; the historical towns, bridges and bazaars of Bosnia & Herzegovina; sinuous mountain roads in Montenegro; regular reminders of the communist past in Albania; and delightful driving in the Pindos mountains and Acropolis Rally heartlands in Greece.

As a Challenge event, the route will explore some of the remotest parts of Europe and competitive sections on gravel and unsurfaced roads will spice things up. However, there will also be opportunities to experience the array of cultures and hidden gems that reveal themselves to the adventurer committed to taking the “road less-travelled”.

Visit the rally page at the link below to view full details and request an entry form.

CARRERA BAVARIA RECCE REPORT

Day 0

Jim Smith and I, reunited on recce together for the first time since Ypres to Istanbul, back in the dark days of Covid, met up in Kronberg on the outskirts of Frankfurt. With our trusty Rally the Globe Hilux 02 and its wheel driven Monit trip at our disposal, we set a relatively long calibration route starting and finishing at the event hotel. Schloss Kronberg is a magnificent venue from which to start a Carrera event and is steeped in history. A fine Italian meal in town and an early night followed for the recce crew.

Day 1

At 08:30 Saturday morning we hit the road. Using roads suggested to us by our German route advisor, Uwe Schmidt, and some of which we had recced back in May, we headed west and south through the Taunus Mountains. Roads were traffic free, and soon we were in the Rheinhessen wine region, the largest of Germany’s 13 top quality production areas. We crossed the Rhine, not for the last time, and late morning revisited the splendid lunch spot we discovered on the first recce. Boudier & Koeller is a beautiful hotel, restaurant and winery with beautiful gardens and inviting indoor spaces. There is always the temptation to linger but we had regularities to find and tests to design so we reluctantly headed south.

At 17km Waldleiningen is one of the longer sections on the event, although the scenic, mountain road’s single junction should ensure an easy introduction for the navigators. A second, shorter regularity soon followed before we left the hills in search of some action in the form of tests. Approaching the Speyer Technical Museum, the sight of a full-sized Lufthansa Boeing 747 seemingly suspended in the sky cannot fail to impress. The museum, for the most part outdoor, is a mix of aeroplanes, boats, cars and even a pair of submarines. Our first test of the event will be on the premises and there will be time for coffee and a cake, and a wander round the exhibits. From there it’s only 15km to Hockenheim where we are fortunate to have secured the Porsche Experience circuit for a test or two. This facility is truly impressive, and we felt honoured to be welcomed there. Historic Heidelberg is close by and our easily accessible, luxury, city centre hotel will be a fitting end to an action packed first day of competition.

Day 2

Heidelberg is a compact city and within five kilometres of leaving our hotel we have our first regularity of Day 2. Then we continue south with a coffee stop in the pedestrian area of Bretten, surrounded by beautiful, half-timbered houses. Incidentally, Bretten was on the route taken by Bertha Benz in 1888 when she took her two sons on a 100km trip in her husband’s newly invented horseless carriage. Later in the morning we enter the Black Forest and tackle another short regularity before our midday stop. Lunch will be taken in Schloss Eberstein perched over the dramatic valley of the River Murg. Lunch digested, the next regularity starts literally on the hotel’s doorstep and is a 17km beauty. A pleasant afternoon’s drive takes us to the beautiful Hotel Traube Tonbach, our home for the next two nights, in the heart of the Black Forest.

 

Day 3

Bearing in mind our fabulous hotel’s extensive leisure facilities, a conscious decision was made to have an early arrival on the third day of our event. Nevertheless, three challenging regularity sections will be run in quick succession during the morning before coffee is take in the middle of the forest. On recce we felt obliged to try the legendary Black Forest gateau and wandered contentedly back to our truck for the run to the rally hotel and our somewhat less glamorous recce accommodation in nearby Freudenstadt. We had a few questions regarding potential road closures, so Uwe Schmidt kindly drove down, and all the issues were resolved over a coffee in the sunshine in the historic town square.

Day 4

On the fourth day of our adventure the scenery begins to change. To start with we are still in the heart of the Black Forest and a regularity is held amongst the pines on another twisty mountain road before we descend into Wolfach, another picture postcard perfect German town. We will take morning coffee in a large glass blowing centre which features a labyrinth of rooms selling every kind of glass imaginable, and some that aren’t! A new innovation before lunch will be a 10km untimed navigation section where the objective will be to get the Passage Control signatures and Code Boards in the correct order having followed the unambiguous road book. No tricks but hopefully lots of fun. A spectacular, deserted country road alongside a river takes us to an isolated restaurant in an old mill, where the owners are excited to see us and our cars. On our way to Konstanz and our overnight halt on the shores of that lake, we will take in a test or two at an extensive driver training area. Our hotel is full of history and beautifully located in the heart of the city.

Day 5

We started the day with a cruise, or more realistically a half hour ferry ride to the north shore of the lake. A short drive from there the rally will regroup at a quirky tractor museum before heading to an equally quirky driving school were we will have a test amongst the trees and signposts. The town of Kissleg is looking forward to hosting us for lunch and as we left the hotel owner was seen cycling off to the Mayor’s office with a handful of Carrera Bavaria brochures. By now we were seeing signs of the Alps off to our right, and at our quaint afternoon stop typical Bavaria wear was much in evidence. From here it’s dirndls and lederhosen all the way to Berchtesgaden! After five days on the road we were delighted to arrive at the splendid Steigenberger hotel in the small spa town of Bad Worishofen, where Uwe has arranged for the main pedestrian shopping street to host our arrival under the RtG arch before our welcome rest day.

Day 7

Fully refreshed after a day in luxurious surroundings, and with the various notes and maps tidied up, we headed east through some beautiful agricultural land with the distant Alps ever present on our right side. A short regularity led us to the charming Gasthof Graf run by the family of that name. Weather permitting, we will have coffee and local specialities in the garden. Not far from there we discovered an interesting regularity where we felt at times that we were going round in circles…… Lakes were becoming more and more frequent, and we chose an inn on the shores of the Kochelsee for lunch. In the afternoon we took in a regularity on a toll road which featured a covered bridge, something more usually seen in the United States. We crossed briefly into Austria before tackling a short hill climb at the summit of which we will regroup and take coffee. The day’s competition ended with an intriguing, toll road regularity featuring a rather narrow tunnel. Make sure you have a torch or a map light at hand. From there it was a short drive to our overnight hotel, a wooden, luxurious ski chalet style establishment with extensive views.

Day 8

This day saw us doing the most extensive changes to the route we had chosen on the first recce. We started with an interesting regularity before stopping at an extraordinary museum complex where we will have a typical Bavarian brunch amongst the exhibits. We’ll be just behind the multi-coloured bus! The head of events at the museum suggested we should visit the town of Wasserburg and we were not disappointed. Surrounded on three sides by the River Inn it is not to be missed and time will be added to the schedule to allow competitors to explore the town on foot. A pair of short Regularities take us through increasingly dramatic scenery to Berchtesgaden and the fabulous Kempinski Hotel perched above the tow. This will be our home for the final three nights of the event.

Day 9

This, the penultimate day of the event, was spent almost entirely in wonderful mountain scenery with traffic-free spectacular roads. Almost directly from the hotel we were on the famous Rossfeld hill climb course before crossing into Austria again. We climbed the hill to Gaisberg where there is a friendly café at the summit. The high afternoon roads were truly inspiring, and we had smiles on our faces as we descended back into Germany.

Day 10

The short, final day has the most beautiful run out to a complex of driving centres and test tracks that we have rented for the day. There will be two Tests in the morning before a gourmet final lunch. Then revised versions of the Tests will be tackled before we return to Berchtesgaden for the traditional early afternoon finish ceremony. Jim and I both enjoyed the route enormously and it was a pleasure to discover this area, largely unknown to us.

We look forward to sharing our discoveries with you in June 2024.

RALLY THE GLOBE STAGES ITS MAIDEN MARATHON WITH EPIC ALASKA TO MEXICO ADVENTURE

  • North American odyssey wows crews through ‘the great outdoors’ 
  • Fords to fore on spectacular 30-day voyage from Anchorage to Baja
  • Club’s first ‘Marathon’ category rally highly acclaimed by all 
  • Focus now switches to busy 2024 programme of events  

Rally the Globe’s first long-distance ‘Marathon’ style event certainly lived up to its big billing as the club’s longest and most spectacular driving adventure to date.

Taking plucky participants on an epic 7,500 mile (12,000kms) odyssey from chilly, damp Anchorage to sweltering Cabo San Lucas, as promised the spectacular Alaska to Mexico Marathon (27 August – 26 September) put the emphasis on exploration and endurance.

The unforgettable 30-day voyage crossed no fewer than 38 lines of latitude as crews travelled through barren wildernesses with artic flora and fauna, remote outposts from the gold rush era, rocky snow-capped mountainscapes, rolling vineyards, ancient canyonlands and, finally, cactus strewn deserts en-route to the very welcome tropical beaches at the southern-most tip of the Baja Peninsula where two first-time Rally the Globe winners were crowned.

Along the way, four hard-earned rest days were set aside in Dawson Creek, Walla Walla, Moab and Tucson to give everyone a well-deserved opportunity to draw breath and refettle machinery.

In anticipation of the incredible itinerary ahead, a full-capacity field of 47 scrutineered cars and their excited crews gathered in Anchorage ready for the start, entries in age ranging from a trio of vintage Bentleys from the 1920s to a pair of Range Rovers from the early 1980s.

Unsurprisingly, proven American automotive icons such as Chevy Coupes and Ford Mustangs were out in force alongside an equally impressive line-up of European challengers from respected marques with rallying pedigrees including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab and Volvo. Adding to the international ambience, crews hailed from right across Europe as well as the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Living up to the event’s ‘marathon’ status, driving days were always challenging and rarely less than 250 miles (400kms) in distance, much staged on unsurfaced gravel or sandy roads taking participants through a never-ending succession of dramatic backdrops they would never normally experience.

Competitive elements consisted of daily Regularity Sections requiring navigational skills interspersed with Speed Tests at some wonderfully named motorsport venues. The Alaska Raceway, Caribou Raceway Park, Thunder Mountain Raceway, Atomic Motor Raceway and Tucson Speedway all featured on the long and winding route south via remote parts of Canada and the US to the Mexican coast.

Among the Pre-war entrants it was the 1940 Ford Coupe of Manuel and Irene Dubs that was fastest out of the Alaskan blocks – a lead the swift-starting Swiss pairing maintained throughout. The well-driven and distinctive Dearborn-built V8 was right at home on the north American dirt roads.

The battle behind, though, was fiercely fought right to finishing line with a fellow Ford – this time the 1936 V8 Convertible of Andrew and Ann Boland – finally taking second place ahead of the 1927 Bentley 4½ Le Mans of Graham and Marina Goodwin.

“There’s nothing I like better than driving on challenging gravel roads so this event was amazing for me,” said the victorious Manuel Dubs. “I really must thank the Rally the Globe team for the excellent organisation and support.”

It was another Ford – this time the 1973 Escort RS1600 of Ean and Alison Lewin – which led the way among the more modern Classic contenders. And, once again, the real action came behind the leaders where places were constantly swapping.

Eventually it was the 1959 Volvo PV544 of Mike and Lorna Harrison which secured second position on the podium with the 1965 Porsche 911 of Steve and Jenny Verrall recovering to grab third after dropping time in Arizona. The same three crews had also annexed the top three spots on last summer’s Ypres to Istanbul Challenge, albeit in the reverse order.

“The fantastic Rally the Globe team has surpassed themselves again – it was utterly, utterly brilliant,” enthused the delighted Ean Lewin. “We weren’t the fastest on the Speed Tests nor were we top on the Regularities but we were consistent throughout – that was the secret to our success. Roll on Saigon!” he concluded looking forward to Rally the Globe’s next event, the Road to Hanoi Marathon in early 2024.

As well as the overall awards there were some discretionary prizes. The Spirit of the Rally went to Tim Eades for never giving up, eventually bringing his son Patrick to fill the spare seat in a 1978 Ford Bronco which replaced his 1971 Ford Escort mid-matathon! The Against All Odds trophy was scooped by Brian and Catherine Scowcroft for getting their old 1936 Chevy Fangio Coupe to the finish after an electrical fire, brake failure and several steering issues.

“This was our first marathon style event and probably the best long-distance rally that we’ve done yet – as planned, it really did have everything,” admitted a delighted Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s much-respected Rally Director. “We travelled from virtually the Artic Circle to the Tropic of Cancer, experiencing the full north/south extent of the North American continent on great traffic-free roads, off the beaten track virtually all the way.

“As ever, we wanted to take crews into parts of the world they wouldn’t otherwise savour and it was particularly pleasing to show our American crews places they didn’t know virtually in their own backyard!” grinned Gallagher.

“There were massive variations not only in the epic scenery but also in temperature – we went from 4 degrees to 45 degrees centigrade! We also had an amazing bunch of competitors and great team running the rally. From all angles it was a huge, huge success.”

Though the widely acclaimed Alaska to Mexico Marathon was Rally the Globe’s final event in 2023, the triumphant Rally the Globe team has little time to savour its latest success.

Next year’s schedule will be the not-for-profit Club’s most ambitious yet, kicking off with the Road to Hanoi Marathon at the end of January. The Asian adventure is swiftly followed by the third of its award-winning Generations Rallies in March (with a new Cheshire base in 2024), the Vintage Shamrock in May and the Carrera Bavaria in June. In latest news, those will be joined by a stunning Challenge style rally exploring the lesser-visited parts of the Balkans during the Autumn.

“There’s a lot to look forward to!” anticipated Gallagher.

STUNNING JAGUAR C-TYPE MAKES MORE HISTORY WITH CARRERA RIVIERA VICTORY

• Le Mans icon gives Jaguar its first Rally the Globe win 
• 11 days of epic competition and camaraderie in La Belle France
• From the English Channel to the Mediterranean via the Atlantic coast and Alps 
• Fraser Nash-BMW 328 pairing claim back-to-back Carrera wins in vintage category
• Next up? Two Marathons: Alaska to Mexico and the Road to Hanoi 

Jaguar’s legendary C-type just keeps winning and winning! Its latest victory came on Rally the Globe’s highly-acclaimed Carrera Riviera – an epic 11-day driving adventure through the ever-changing realms of France.

It was a hard-fought, historic and opportune victory for the iconic British sports racer, too. The C-type’s triumph not only celebrated the very first time a Jaguar had ever won a Rally the Globe event but also came exactly 70 years after one of the sublime sports racer’s most famous triumphs. It was in June 1953 that Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt famously won the Le Mans 24 Hours race… but only after a last-minute reprieve from the French organisers allowed the British crew to take the start.

Seven decades on, Carrera Riviera (4-15 June) was an incredible escapade set on some of France’s greatest traffic-free roads taking intrepid participants from the shores of the English Channel to the Mediterranean via the Atlantic coast and Alps.

When the very well-travelled crews finally reached the Côte d’Azur, it was the rare and desirable Jaguar crewed by father and son team Simon and Jack Brien that took top honours in the fiercely-fought Classic category, thus adding yet another prized trophy to the C-type’s never-ending roll of honour. Just 53 C-type sportscars were produced in period and this was chassis number XKC 030.

Remarkably after such an incredible 2,060-mile (3,300km) journey showcasing the very best La Belle France has to offer, the Brien duo actually finished tied at the top of the results with the 1973 MGB GT of Tomasz Dzitko and Beata Siwek. Both crews celebrated under the finishing arch but the Polish pair lost out on a tie-breaker based on the age of the vehicle which awarded the final spoils to the more venerable 1953 Jaguar.

The battle in the Pre-war class (pre-1946) was almost as dramatic with the 1937 Fraser Nash-BMW 328 of Martin and Olivia Hunt just pipping the 1925 Bentley Supersports shared by Graham and Marina Goodwin to the post by the smallest of margins. It was a second successive Carrera victory for the Hunts who also won last year’s Carrera España in the same car.

Running to Rally the Globe’s much-loved ‘Carrera’ format, the Gallic adventure boasted a superb all-asphalt itinerary with visits to private racetracks and circuits during 11 days of great camaraderie and wonderful hospitality set against stunning landscapes.

The outstanding quality of the trip was, perhaps, of no surprise as it had been devised by Rally the Globe’s distinguished Rally Director, Fred Gallagher. What’s more he was ably assisted by Denis Giraudet, a fellow experienced navigator of considerable repute from the upper echelons of the World Rally Championship.

In readiness for the start, a fully subscribed entry of 42 vintage and classic cars (all pre-1977) – plus their excited crews – assembled in delightful Deauville, the most chic and glamorous seaside resort in Normandy. Ahead lay a truly memorable journey through 31 mostly sun-drenched French departments with off-road Speed Tests and other controls along the way to provide the competitive element.

Underlying Rally the Globe’s ever-widening international appeal, the top class entry came from throughout Europe as well as Kenya, Canada, USA and Australia.

From Deauville, the route took participants via the magnificent Chateaux of the Loire valley to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, then through the wine regions of Cognac and Bordeaux for a well-earned rest day in Saint-Émilion.

Fully rejuvenated, the cavalcade then headed towards the famous mediaeval city of Carcassonne. From there it was into more serious rally country – notably roads made famous by the legendary Monte Carlo Rally – concluding with a short, twisty descent to the Mediterranean Riviera and the seafront finish in opulent Cannes.

First away from Deauville was the mighty 1917 La France Roadster of John and Catherine Harrison ­– not only the oldest but by far the biggest of the cars on the entry list. With a vast 14,500cc engine under its long bonnet, the chain-driven monster had more than nine times the capacity of the two smallest engine 1600cc cars (1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider and 1973 Ford Escort Mexico) on the entry and was fully 57 years older than the 1974 MGB GT of Philip and Lynda Blunden.

Among the Classics the 1966 Ford Mustang of Rob Collinge and Tony Brooks was among the early pacesetters, however, the American pony car was quickly usurped by the orange MGB GT of Dzitko and Siwek which briefly led before the incredibly rare and desirable C-type rose to the top.

Rally the Globe regulars Graham and Marina Goodwin led the pre-war category in their 1925 Bentley Supersports but the Hunt’s Fraser Nash-BMW was never far behind as the crews sped through the vineyards under bright blue skies on some of France’s finest country roads.

After the summer sunshine, the weather turned wet and misty as the Rally the Globe convoy reached the Courchevel ski resort nestling in the Alps with torrential rain in the mountains forcing a couple of re-routes. As ever, though, the experienced Rally the Globe team came up trumps and kept the show on the road and the celebrations at the finish on La Croisette, Cannes’ world-famous shoreline boulevard.

Although the valiant MG mounted a last-gasp challenge and drew level on the leader-board with the pace-setting C-type as the cars descended from Courchevel, the plucky Poles just couldn’t get in front of the Coventry cat.

As well as Jaguar’s first Rally the Globe victory, it was also Simon Brien’s first win on his first Carrera. “The C-type was just the dream car to drive – it’s absolutely stunning and has so much heritage,” enthused the understandably delighted victor. “Rally the Globe produced an unbelievable route with some fabulous Tests to keep us on our toes. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the 11 amazing days we’ve had – everyone just had a fantastic ball.”

After posting back-to-back Carrera wins among those in pre-war cars, Martin Hunt was equally appreciative. “We’ve had another fantastic event with Rally the Globe,” he said. “Of course it’s always nice to win but much more than that we are all winners as it’s such a delight and privilege just to be a small part of these wondrous driving adventures. We are now already looking at our diaries to book our place on the next Carrera in 2024!”

As well as the sporting awards, two discretionary prizes were also presented. The Spirit of the Rally accolade went to Ean and Alison Lewin in their Escort Mexico while the Against all Odds trophy was handed to John and Catherine Harrison in recognition of their sterling efforts crewing the almighty La France Roadster. The award for the best driver on the Tests went to Neil Smith and Irene Dubs was named as the best navigator.

As the awards were handed out, the ever-gracious Gallagher paid tribute to all who had made the event such a success with a special mention going to Denis Giraudet who’d worked so hard to weave all of those minor roads and Test venues into one rich tapestry.

“Deauville seems such a long time ago but what a great time we’ve had,” admitted Rally the Globe’s Rally Director. “This has been another incredible Carrera and we’ve been delighted with the way it’s been received. A lot of hard work went into the organisation and to see so many people having such a great time makes it all worthwhile. The roads have been amazing, the venues were incredible and the hospitality was sensational. There were some challenges with the weather in the Alps but these only added to the experience and I think we’ll all remember Carrera Riviera for a very long time”.

While harbouring all those great memories, the busy Rally the Globe team has two long-distance Marathon category escapades appearing quickly on the horizon.

First up is the Alaska to Mexico Marathon (27 August-26 September) which is swiftly followed by The Road to Hanoi Marathon (27 January–23 February) early in the new year.

With a sense of real adventure, the former takes participants across 38 lines of latitude from snow-capped mountains to the hot sandy beaches of the Baja Peninsula. The latter promises to be an equally seminal journey through the wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.

For those keen to experience either – or, indeed, both – one final place remains available on the North American expedition after a late withdrawal and there are few remaining places on the South East Asian trip that follows.

RALLY THE GLOBE WELCOMES EXCITING NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH RM SOTHEBY’S

• Proven market leaders team up to ignite mutual benefits  
• Platform for increasing overseas awareness for international driving adventures 
• New addition to RM Sotheby’s incredible portfolio of prestigious auctions and events
• Carrera Bavaria – the latest addition to Rally the Globe’s popular ‘Carrera’ series

Rally the Globe is delighted to announce an exciting new and far-reaching partnership with RM Sotheby’s. Both highly-respected organisations are market leaders in their respective fields within the automotive sector.

Rally the Globe is an award-winning organiser of international events for classic and vintage cars and RM Sotheby’s is the world’s leading auction house for investment-quality cars. Now, by maximising the wide-ranging opportunities presented by this enthusiastic new relationship, both eminent brands will be on pole position to further strengthen their reach and influence.

While based in the UK, the acclaimed Rally the Globe team stages driving adventures all over the planet. Indeed, its current calendar includes events in Continental Europe, North America and South East Asia as well as closer to home in both Ireland and mainland Britain.

With an enviable reputation for delivering outstanding driving escapades, all this year’s adventures already boast full entry lists. Nevertheless, with ever-changing economics and demographics, the not-for-profit club is always exploring ways to build on its on-going successes and this partnership with RM Sotheby’s is another significant advance.

“Our profile is growing all the time and this new relationship with RM Sotheby’s will further fuel interest and participation in our portfolio of wonderful events,” enthused Graham Goodwin, Chairman of Rally the Globe (photo above competing in recent Rally the Globe event). “In particular, RM Sotheby’s has a very big presence in both Europe and America – those are two key markets in which we are keen to grow our brand recognition and thus club membership.

“While we have no immediate plans to expand our calendar – and our current events are running at full capacity – we certainly cannot take that for granted in the future. That’s why we are so delighted about this significant new partnership with such a proven champion in its very complementary field.”

Fulfilling the Rally the Globe bill, each year RM Sotheby’s presents a diverse roster of auctions hosted in some of the most prestigious settings across North America and Europe. These include Villa Erba in Italy, Le Mans in France as well as Monterey in The United States. Further emphasising its deep-rooted passion for period motoring, RM Sotheby’s is also title partner of the illustrious London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the world’s oldest motoring celebration.

“RM Sotheby’s has a reputation for partnering with the world’s leading and most exclusive events and is now proud to be the official auction house for Rally the Globe,” said Greg Anderson, Managing Director, RM Sotheby’s. “It is through such strong partnerships that we have created a global platform for collector automobiles as well as introducing new audiences to our thrilling hobby. We love great cars – even more so when driven with purpose – and that’s an emotion shared with the Rally the Globe membership.”

Now working with the fervent support of RM Sotheby’s, the Rally the Globe team has a very busy and exhilarating year ahead with two more over-subscribed fixtures on the 2023 calendar. Next up is the Carrera Riviera which runs from Deauville to Cannes through beautiful rural France (4-15 June) and then the epic Alaska to Mexico Marathon (27 August-26 September) set in the ‘great outdoors’ of North America.

Those two highlights are swiftly followed in the New Year by another truly extraordinary driving adventure: the Road to Hanoi Marathon (27 January–23 February). While the 2023 events boast a full entry, a few places do remain open for what promises to be an incredible journey through the wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.

Next year’s schedule also features – by popular demand – a third running of the award-winning Generations Rally plus a repeat of this month’s highly-acclaimed Shamrock Rally. Thereafter there is a return to Europe for the newly announced Carrera Bavaria, taking participants through the spectacular landscapes of southern Germany.

SPARKLING AMERICAN COMET SHINES ON ‘LUCKY’ SHAMROCK DEBUT

• Acclaimed new partnership between Irish Racing Green and Rally the Globe 
• Four-days of epic competition – and craic – on the south coast of Ireland 
• Californian convertible wins on its dramatic event debut 
• Class wins for Bentley, Frazer Nash, MG and Talbot crews
• Next up: Carrera Riviera and Alaska to Mexico Marathon

The striking Kurtis Comet crewed by Jim Gately and Tony Brooks scored a dramatic final day victory on a memorable Vintage Shamrock 2023 after only snatching the overall lead on the last morning of the enthralling rally set in the spectacular scenery of the south coast of Ireland (8-11 May).

Gately attributed his stand-out success to ‘luck’ but, in reality, it was the American’s driving skills paired with the navigational dexterities of his English co-driver which combined to secure an outstanding win after four days of closely contested – yet always convivial – competition.

The pair’s impressive triumph was all the more remarkable as it was their very first entry into the much-loved Vintage Shamrock. Moreover, the big, red, V8-powered Comet roadster with its ‘Made in California’ heritage hardly seemed to be in its natural habitat on the often narrow and twisty highways and byways of the Emerald Isle.

“It’s so big that it’s a bit like driving a boat at times,” admitted a delighted Gately at the finish. “But with its light aluminium body and a solid Ford V8 engine, we do have a great power-to-weight ratio. As to the secrets behind this surprising success, I’d put that down entirely to beginner’s luck!” he said modestly.

Building on the three past successes, this year’s Vintage Shamrock was the first to be organised by the event’s founders, Irish Racing Green, in collaboration with Rally the Globe and came with additional support from expert insurers Chubb and Barrett Private Insurances.

The new partnership proved to be an immediate triumph with Irish Racing Green’s local knowledge and infectious Irish charisma now complemented by Rally the Globe’s proven professionalism. Working together, the pair produced a truly magical driving adventure with the emphasis split equally between some challenging competitive motoring through beautiful landscapes and all-important friendly camaraderie.

Reserved solely for Vintage and Post-Vintage category cars, the Shamrock has always boasted a high-quality entry and this year was no different with a full capacity roster of 60 crews signing up for the craic.

The oldest cars – a Bentley 3/4½, Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and a venerable Vauxhall 30-98 – all dated back almost a century to 1924 while slightly more modern, competition-proven Frazer Nash-BMWs, Rileys and Talbots from the following decade proved popular choices.

Eager crews were initially based in the rural tranquility of the luxurious Faithlegg Hotel, a restored 18th Century mansion overlooking the Suir Estuary close to the historic city of Waterford.

Once all the pre-requisite paperwork was completed and road books together with time cards distributed, the opening day featured an afternoon of action on a cleverly-conceived 78-mile route set in beautiful County Wexford including Tests at the Kiltorcan Raceway, Woodville House and Whitechurch plus a very detailed Regularity close to the village of Campile.

As the cars headed back to Faithlegg – via the Passage East ferry – it was the MG K3 of Clint and Dawn Smith which led the pack, with the Kurtis Comet and the Bentley of Graham and Marina Goodwin in close pursuit, as well as leading their own respective classes.

Five regularities and two Tests were in store for crews on day two, alongside some more spectacular scenery – notably on the deserted roads of the Copper Coast. As ever the driving was enhanced by some superb hospitality as crews travelled towards three nights at the fabulous 5-Star Castlemartyr Resort set amid East Cork’s glorious woodlands.

With the MG K3 slipping down the leaderboard, it was the Bentley driven by birthday boy Graham Goodwin and the rare Kurtis Comet which moved to the top of the timesheets. They now led the 1934 Talbot AV105 of Bertie and Charlotte van Houtte, which had jumped up into a close third position.

Day three was the longest on the road taking in the wonders of the Comeragh, Knockmealdown and Monavullagh Mountains plus the impressive spectacle of the Mahon Falls. The outstanding 146-mile route presented crews with five Regularities and three Tests as well as a series of well-placed Passage and Time Controls.

Despite all the challenges, the top three remained unchanged with the Smiths’ MG fighting back to fourth overall, having slipped to 13th after their promising start.

Though the final day was slightly shorter it was still demanding with three Regularities and four Tests set in and around Dungarvan and Cappoquin before crews could book into the final Time Control and prepare for the prize-giving dinner.

With Graham and Marina Goodwin’s Bentley falling back to third, it was the Kurtis Comet that inherited an unlikely victory with the van Houtte’s green Talbot AV105 finishing as runner-up. Sharing the spoils, the top three all won their respective classes as did the Smith’s MG K3 in fourth and the Frazer Nash-BMW 328 of Martin Hunt and Robert Mannix in fifth.

As well as the overall and class awards, there were also some discretionary honours. Thomas Houlihan and Edel Murphy took the Spirit of the Rally for the combination of their ever-sideways antics and ever-smiling faces aboard their 1937 Riley Special. Meanwhile Elizabeth Heyer and Martin Hunter, who faced a battle to keep their delightful but unpredictable Salmson VAL3 Grand Sport on the road, were rewarded with the Against All Odds trophy for their sterling efforts. Special thanks were also paid to the teams of local marshals whose assistance proved invaluable.

The big winner, though, was the Vintage Shamrock with the exciting new collaboration between Irish Racing Green and Rally the Globe being widely acclaimed as delivering what was unquestionably a really special event of exceptional character.

“The Shamrock is our baby so we were understandably nervous about sharing it but, now the event is over, we are absolutely delighted – it feels more like a marriage than an adoption!” enthused Michael Jackson, one of Irish Racing Green’s three founders. “We very much wanted to keep the flavour of the Shamrock because it is just so unique and very different to other events – we are really pleased that Rally the Globe clearly appreciates that character. It’s clear that we are all signing off the same hymn sheet.”

“They’ve done a fantastic job,” agreed fellow Irish Racing Green founder, Shane Houlihan. “The whole event ran very, very satisfactorily and, by all account, all the competitors had an absolute ball. The weather was kind and the routes chosen were spectacular with some really interesting and challenging driving. You really could not have asked for more.”

Those on the Rally the Globe side of the partnership were every bit as delighted with the new collaboration. “It was a tremendous event,” enthused  Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s hugely respected Rally Director. “The cooperation between us and Irish Racing Green really worked terrifically well.

“Most importantly, the competitors all absolutely loved every aspect of it: the organisation, the hospitality and the friendliness as well as the competition and the scenery – so that was all very, very reassuring. It was so important that we kept the amazing spirit of the Shamrock and, by all accounts, we’ve done just that.”

Though a little disappointed to have missed out on overall victory, Rally the Globe’s Chairman Graham Goodwin was equally pleased with the collaboration. “We were honoured to be asked to join Irish Racing Green to be part of what’s a wonderful creation and it’s very important that we keep Pre-War events like the Shamrock going from strength-to-strength. Ireland is an amazing country in which to rally, the people are fantastic.”

The highly-praised and hard-working Rally the Globe team, though, has very little time to rest on its laurels with two more over-subscribed fixtures fast approaching on the 2023 calendar. Next up is the Carrera Riviera which runs from Deauville to Cannes through beautiful rural France (4-15 June) and it is followed by the epic Alaska to Mexico Marathon (27 August-26 September) set in the ‘great outdoors’ of North America.

Those two highlights are swiftly followed in the New Year by another truly extraordinary driving adventure: the Road to Hanoi Marathon (27 January–23 February). While the 2023 events boast a full entry, a few places do remain open for what promises to be an incredible journey through the wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.

Next year’s schedule also features – by popular demand – a third running of the award-winning Generations Rally plus, naturally, a repeat of the highly-acclaimed Vintage Shamrock. Thereafter there is a return to Europe for the newly announced Carrera Bavaria, taking participants through the spectacular landscapes of southern Germany.

SURVEYING THE ROAD TO HANOI

Ho Chi Minh City

Motorbikes, motorbikes and even more motorbikes. As you leave the airport at Ho Chi Minh City that is the first thought that enters your mind, everyone seems to own a motorbike. Apparently, it is legal for there to be 2 adults and 2 children on a bike, but that is a minimum as far as I could see.

The drive into the city, even at 06:00 in the morning, shows just how vibrant and busy a place Ho Chi Minh is. The parks were already full of locals taking exercise or just simply taking an early morning walk. The apartments in the city are generally small so people take the chance to get out at any time into one of the many green spaces available, they also escape the heat of the city which builds during the morning.

Our hotel is in a superb location, very close to our planned start venue of the Independence Palace and within walking distance of a number of restaurants and bars. A short taxi ride will take you downtown and offer even more opportunities to eat and drink.

Car collection

Driving in Ho Chi Minh may be a shock to some at first, motorbikes are everywhere and come at you from all angles and on both sides of the road, but somehow it all works. No one gets stressed, everyone avoids everyone else, and you soon settle into the Vietnamese style of driving, just remember to indicate when you plan to change lanes and keep your hand close to the horn button.

You will get your first taste of the driving style when you collect your car from the warehouse, which is a 17 Km drive from the hotel.

Day 1 Ho Chi Minh to Dalat 352 Kms

Starting from the Independence Palace we work our way north, through the busy city traffic, to a race circuit where we plan to run an entertaining test section to begin the event’s competition.

From the circuit we begin to head east using a mixture of roads from wide new roads in an industrial area to quieter village roads to join the main QL20 road which joins Ho Chi Minh to Dalat, our overnight halt.

A stop for coffee has been arranged on the shores of the Dong Nai River, with lovely views over the surrounding countryside. The owner is car mad and is looking forward to welcoming everyone next January.

From the coffee halt we continue inland on country roads before emerging on the main road and turning east towards Dalat. The main road is very populated and sometimes a little slow, but there is no alternative and there is always plenty to see, as every building is a business of some sort. It is often great fun to stop and get some of the local produce, the fruit and vegetables on offer are superb and straight out of the field or garden.

Lunch today will be a very local affair at a small roadside restaurant, but with plenty of parking and some excellent local dishes to try, the food will be good.

To finish the day a short section of local tarmac and dirt roads will provide the first regularity section followed by a drive past the beautiful Edensee Lake on our approach to our overnight halt in Dalat, the largest town in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for it’s temperate climate.

Day 2 Dalat to Quy Nhon 415 Kms

The hotel in Dalat is at an altitude of over 1500 metres and there are magnificent views as the road descends into the fertile valley below. Dalat is one of the main growing areas for fruit in Vietnam and the valley floor is lined with poly tunnels growing the precious crops.

Today’s first regularity section is on a section of gently downhill winding road between villages. One of the big surprises of Vietnam is how many people there are and that they all seem to live next to the road. Most villages are many kilometres long but will only be one building deep.

The region we drive through is famous for the Durian Fruit. This plant gives off an overpowering smell when first opened and is banned from being carried on public transport in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand. Apparently if you can get past the smell the fruit is delicious.

A lovely little coffee stop, well out in the country, will give crews a chance to catch their breath before another regularity.

Today’s lunch stop is very different. Just a few kilometres off the main road there is a restaurant with its own lakes. We did think about giving crews a rod each and asking them to catch their own lunch, but the owners have promised to catch lunch for us and prepare it, but only just before we arrive so the food is as fresh as it can be.

After lunch the route heads to the east to Nha Trang and the road along the coast of the South China Sea. On the way there are floating villages and huge areas of shrimp farming pens, no wonder the seafood is so fresh here.

Our hotel tonight is just outside the city of Quy Nhon and is on the beach. You can enjoy the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach as you drift off to sleep.

Day 3 Quy Nhon to Danang 323 Kms

Today we follow the coast of the South China Sea as we head north towards Danang using roads through a sandier area, giving another view on Vietnam.

Our coffee stop is in another area of shrimp farms so we will spend some kilometres driving past the tanks in the fields on either side.

Heading a little inland we will enjoy some regularity sections near the town of Phu Thu before stopping for lunch at Tan Loc. The restaurant is on the beach, so the seafood is fresh, and the view is delightful for a leisurely lunch break.

After lunch we continue north but break the journey to Danang by stopping at Hoi An. Google describes Hoi An as follows:

The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colourful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.

From Hoi An it is just a short drive to our hotel for the next 2 nights which is on the peninsular to the northeast of Danang, but the city is close, and you will have a chance to explore it on the rest day tomorrow.

Day 4 Danang rest day

Danang is the fifth largest city in Vietnam and capital of the central region. It lies on the coast of the East Sea of Vietnam at the mouth of the Hàn River and is one of Vietnam’s most important port cities.

Trip Advisor says about Danang:

No other city represents Vietnam’s boom better than Da Nang. It’s become a gleaming, modern tourist magnet, complete with apartments, theme parks, and brand-new resorts. But the city’s earlier charm is still present, including laid-back, friendly locals and incredible street eats. After you’ve stuffed yourself with a bowl of Mi Quang and Banh Mi Ba Lan, walk it off by exploring the limestone caves and Buddhist grottos of the Marble Mountains. Make an escape to the surreal mountain resort of Ba Na Hills, where the majestic Golden Bridge welcomes you with open palms.

Day 5 Danang to Mang Den 342 Kms

We decided to break the journey to the Cambodia over 2 days, as the border crossing we are using closes late afternoon and we wanted to make sure everyone arrived in time.

Today’s route begins with a drive over the Hai Van Pass. This is the highest pass in Vietnam (500m above sea level) and is the final section of the Truong Son Range stretching to the sea. Hai Van means “Sea Clouds”, since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea.

The “Ho Chi Minh Trail” is currently being worked on after a number of landslides, so is not usable for the event. We will use the motorway south for 120 Kms before heading west towards the border with Cambodia. The highway runs through some typical Vietnamese countryside with some lovely views of the rice fields in this area, not at all the typical boring motorway run.

The route uses a lovely pass as we pass into the Kon Tum Province, the road has great views and will provide strength building for those crews without the luxury of power steering, before we drop down into the town of Mang Den and our hotel for tonight.

Mang Den is currently transforming itself into a second Dalat to try and attract some of the holiday business, it shares the same climate and altitude.

Day 6 Mang Den to Banglun 231 Kms

The final run to the border is over good country roads, with the usual villages for much of the way, although the final stretch is currently being repaired and may be ready in 2024.

The border post is quiet and not well used, but very efficient. There will be a check on the vehicle’s temporary import paperwork and passport control, but these should be dealt with quickly. On the event our Vietnamese agents will go ahead with all the necessary paperwork, so crews do not have to wait for too long while cars and people are cleared for exit.

The Cambodian border is only a few hundred metres further on and there we will be met by the Cambodian agent. Again, formalities will already be taken care of, all the necessary documentation will be sent to the border well in advance, and we will only need to wait a short time for the vehicle import form and visas for our passports. Just a note for those on the event, crews will be handed a white vehicle import form and each person will be given an immigration form, stamped on entry. These are vital pieces of paper and need to be kept safe until needed. You also need to make sure that the passport control has clearly stamped you IN to Cambodia.

Leaving the border post the first thing you will notice is the lack of motorcycles. There are still a lot in use, but nothing like the huge numbers seen in Vietnam.

The final run from the border to the hotel is just under 70 Kms on a decent road with the first chance to experience Cambodian villages. They seemed like those in Vietnam, but the buildings are further back from the road, and were less busy, still good to experience though.

Our plan is to eat in a local restaurant this evening, rather than the hotel, so crews can experience the local dishes. The dinner will be freshly cooked and very different in style and taste to the Vietnamese food of the last few days. I am sure everyone will enjoy the first experience of Cambodia.

Day 7 Banglun to Siam Reap 478 Kms

This region of Cambodia is much flatter than Vietnam and the roads tend to be straighter, which makes finding suitable regularity sections a little more difficult, but a nice section of smooth dirt road will give us some competition for the day.

Cambodian roads are not bad, but only two cars wide, and the local traffic is generally very slow, so progress is not always great, but it gave us a chance to look around.

A resort overlooking the mighty Mekong River at Stung Treng will provide the mid-morning coffee and snack stop and although we won’t have too long to sit and enjoy the views there will be time enough to get a flavour and enjoy something to eat and drink.

Apparently, Cambodia still has both Tigers and Elephants, and although unlikely to see a Tiger, the countryside was perfect Elephant territory so you may get lucky.

A second coffee and snack stop in the town of Preah Vihear, with a good quality fuel station close by, will break the journey, but the stop will not be too long as we want to get to Siam Reap before darkness falls.

The final run in to Siam Reap took us close to Angkor Wat, the world-famous temple site which crews will have the opportunity to visit on their rest day.

Day 8 Siam Reap Rest Day

Angkor Wat is considered to be the world’s largest religious structure and was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II and is dedicated to the god Vishnu.

Time should be found in the rest day by everyone to take a visit.

Day 9 Siam Reap to Nakhon Ratchasima 441 Kms

Today is a border day so an early start will be needed, but breakfast will be ready at the hotel before we leave.

Our route takes us north to the border crossing into Thailand at O Smach, through the area where the infamous Khmer Rouge retreated to as their regime began to crumble.

One feature of the past is a large man-made lake at Chog Kal which was constructed by the Khmer Rouge to try and ensure sufficient water for three rice harvests a year.

The border at O Smach is quiet and the agents on both sides will help crews look after the vehicle paperwork. Everyone will need to have their fingerprints taken at the Thai entry point, but otherwise immigration should be quick and easy.

One thing that can cause a delay is finding the chassis and engine numbers on the vehicle, something for crews to remember for next year, know where they are or make up a metal plate showing the details. One other thing to remember is that Thailand drives on the left, as in the UK and it will take a few kilometres to get used to the change.

Once through the border and into Thailand the change from Cambodia is clear. Thailand seems far more “westernised” than either Vietnam or Cambodia, with instantly recognisable brand names, huge petrol stations and very wide main roads.

This area of Thailand is very flat, so the roads are straight and wide, which makes progress much faster than in the previous countries.

We plan is to use some of the facilities at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram for a test section, together with a lunch stop in the main grandstand. The circuit is amazing and there is also a great Kart track and drift facility on site.

After fun at the track and a nice Thai style lunch we will head for our overnight halt in Nakhon Ratchasima, following the fast straight roads in this area, to get ready for another long day heading north to Mae Sot.

Day 10 Nakhon Ratchasima to Mae Sot 574 Kms

Leaving Nakhon Ratchasima, we head west across the flat straight roads. Corners and junctions are rare in this area, but there will be a nice mixed surface section through a sugar cane plantation to begin the day.

A stop for coffee and the toilets at a PTT fuel station is next on the agenda, we will use these service stations on the event as Passage Controls as they all feature good quality fuel, the ability to pay by credit card, a coffee shop and a 7-11 store to stock up on everything you shouldn’t eat in the car. The toilets are also very good, an important feature on long distance events.

Our next regularity section will be in a quiet area with concrete roads which will make a fun section.

Heading towards the city of Nakhon Sawan, you pass a number of roadside stalls selling sticky rice in bamboo tubes, which is popular with local farmers and truck drivers. The sticky rice is mixed with other sweet ingredients and is known as Thai Valium due to its ability to make you sleep after eating it. Apparently, the farmers eat it so they can sleep in the afternoon then continue work in the evening when the heat has gone. It may be best not to try it as there is still half a day driving ahead of us.

Lunch will be in a quirky café near Nakhon Sawan, before we head into more hilly country on the run in to our overnight halt in Mae Sot, close to the border with Myanmar.

The road into Mae Sot was very slow due to roadworks, but these should be completed shortly and the run in was the first experience of twists and turns in Thailand.

The hotel in Mae Sot was in the city centre and enjoying a walk around the town before dinner should be a nice way to unwind.

Day 11 Mae Sot to Chiang Mai 449 Kms

The route for today uses the road running alongside the border with Myanmar, so expect to see a more visible army presence.

Farmland close to Mae Sot will provide a nice little section on a variety of road surfaces, but the landscape changes as we head north and the roads away from the main road are far too rough and rocky for anything but a 4×4 vehicle. However, the main road is quiet and traffic-free and a really great drive.

On the way north we pass a large Burmese refugee village, populated by people who have fled the regime over the border and co-exist very happily alongside their Thai neighbours.

Our lunch stop today is in a lovely riverside restaurant in the town of Mae Hong Son before we head east towards our next overnight halt in the city of Chiang Mai.

The road from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai has been much improved and is nice fast sweeping road for much of the distance until the outskirts of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand, and the second largest in the country. It is home to a famous night market, a short distance from the hotel and a large number of Buddhist temples for those wanting something more spiritual.

A rest day tomorrow will give crews the opportunity to explore the city and visit the night market to secure a few bargains to take home with them.

Day 13 Chiang Mai to Nan 354 Kms

Leaving the hotel we will navigate the early morning traffic, which should be not too bad as we are heading out of the city, to a Sports Stadium where we plan to have a test section to start the day.

From the Sports Stadium we head east around the top of the city on fast roads before heading into the Thai countryside again. This area produces rice, garlic and pepper in large quantities, it seems that anything grows in Thailand as the soil is so fertile.

We now head away from the normal tourist routes into some really interesting and challenging roads for some short regularity sections to keep crews on their toes.

One downside of being away from the tourist area is the lack of potential coffee stops, but we found one which was just opening and are willing to cater for the group. However, there is a lot of medicinal cannabis grown and sold in this area, so you may decide to avoid the brownies just in case.

There will be another short regularity section before lunch in the town of Phayao. The area around Phayao is known in Thailand for the dinosaur remains found here, but we didn’t see any as we headed into the town.

Lunch will be taken in a restaurant on the side of a large lake and in February, when the event will be here, the sky is clear, and the views will be lovely.

A final section through rubber trees, with changing surfaces and many junctions should test crews feeling sleepy after their lunch.

We will break the afternoon up by stopping for coffee at a great little roadside kiosk. A short chat with the owner produced a promise of more staff on the day to speed things along. The coffee was really good though.

The final run in to Nan was along good main roads to our hotel for the night, a recently opened hotel with helpful and friendly staff and a large restaurant for the group dinner.

Day 14 Nan to Loei 383 Kms

Today our route will be away from the fast main roads and follow the border with Laos. This area is more remote and should be almost traffic-free and a really enjoyable and entertaining drive on good tarmac roads.

Being a border area there are a number of police/border patrol checkpoints, but these are normally friendly, and the police seem very happy to pose for pictures with the car, probably broke up a fairly quiet day for them.

Being traffic-free and challenging the roads were perfect for some regularity sections and several short sections were chosen.

Once again, being remote and away from the tourist routes and towns meant finding a coffee stop was a challenge, but we will stop at a viewpoint area where the park rangers were happy for everyone to park and enjoy the view into Laos while having a well-deserved break.

Lunch today will be something very different. We will eat at a small local restaurant with a pathway to its own waterfall. The plan is to serve the local delicacy, an amazing dish of chicken, salad and sticky rice, but the owner will produce dishes to serve all tastes and diets.

The afternoon route continues to track the border with Laos, at one point we pass a village half of which is in Thailand and the other in Laos, and through villages, almost all of which had a checkpoint which was not manned.

One feature of the afternoon drive is the number of Dragon Fruit trees, apparently these are easy to grow and produce a profitable crop for many local farmers.

Today finishes in town of Loei with time to enjoy our last night in Thailand.

Day 15 Loei to Vientiane 190 Kms

We want to make sure everyone enjoys the last kilometres in Thailand, so instead of taking a main road route to the border we will head across country to enjoy a last look at this amazing country. Thailand is a real surprise and so different to images conjured up by holidays in Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket.

After an enjoyable run through empty roads, we emerge on the banks of the Mekong and head east looking over at Laos as we cover the last few kilometres to the border post.

The border is much larger and busier than any we have used before but is very efficient. After having your passports stamped for exit, don’t forget the white immigration slip handed to you as you entered Thailand, then a visit to the customs to have the vehicle paperwork checked and we will be on our way to Laos.

Our next team of agents will meet us at the border and help crews through the process. Although most people will apply for an e-visa before leaving home you will we still need to queue and have your fingerprints taken and an ‘entry permission’ sticker to be added to our passports. Unfortunately, no amount of pre-arrival preparation will shorten this process, but it was, once again, very efficient.

A final visit to the customs window to check the vehicle paperwork and you will enter Laos, the fourth country on this amazing trip.

A short run from the border along one main road will take us to our hotel in Vientiane and the chance to enjoy an early finish and lunch before a chance to explore the city in the afternoon. Tonight there will be a chance to have dinner in one of the many restaurants along the Mekong overlooking Thailand.

Day 16 Vientiane to Vang Vieng 278 Kms

Leaving the hotel this morning the first thing to remember is to ‘Drive on the Right’ after a few days driving on the left in Thailand.

We are planning to have at least one test section close to the city at the start of our journey today before heading out into the countryside around Vientiane.

The region surrounding Vientiane is one of the few areas of Laos that is not mountainous and has a selection of roads, unfortunately many are too rough for anything but a 4×4 vehicle, but there will be a coffee stop in a resort overlooking the Nam Ngum River.

Leaving coffee, we cross the river then head west through rice fields waiting for the rainy season. This part of Laos is dry and has only one harvest a year, so the rains are vital as is the preparation of the fields before they arrive.

We pass by the first dam built in Laos to our lunch halt at a resort currently being re-developed overlooking the reservoir created by the dam. The views are wonderful, and lunch will be some great fresh local dishes. The re-development will be finished later this year and the resort will make a great lunch stop for the event.

For the run in to our hotel there was a choice of two routes, the new Laos-China Expressway, the first part of this road from Vientiane to Vang Vieng having recently been completed, or the old road and enjoy some more scenery. The old road was chosen.

With most of the truck traffic now using the Expressway this is a much nicer approach to Vang Vieng and a chance to take in more that the Laos countryside has to offer.

Our overnight hotel is in the town of Vang Vieng, where an early finish will give crews the chance to have a wander through the town, there is a large market close to the hotel, and a number of ‘Walking Streets’ where no cars are allowed.

Vang Vieng is fast becoming a backpacker’s destination, so the main street has many bars and restaurants worth exploring before dinner.

Day 17 Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang 187 Kms

A later start this morning will allow a more leisurely breakfast before beginning our drive to tonight’s destination, Luang Prabang.

The choice of route today was simple, either the main road number 13, very interesting and challenging but with a lot of slow-moving Chinese trucks, or a road opened in 2014 and currently being renovated, which leaves the main road at the town of Kasi and re-joins shortly before Luang Prabang.

Although the main road looked superb, we do not want the event to get stuck in truck traffic, so we will use the road currently under renovation.

After leaving the main road at Kasi the road heads into the hills and through some amazing terrain, with fantastic views across the valley and beyond. The road is challenging and great to drive, although there were a lot of roadworks which are due to be completed before the end of the year. Some parts will make for a challenging regularity section, and these were duly noted.

A viewpoint at the summit will provide a great location for a coffee stop and a chance to catch your breath and use the facilities, before continuing along the downhill sections of this wonderful road and then joining a road coming from the southwest where it becomes faster.

Just after joining the faster main road, we travel through a village where they are still using Elephants for working in the forests, far more environmentally friendly than a tractor and much better at the job.

Re-joining road 13 just before Luang Prabang takes us through a pineapple growing area before reaching our hotel for the evening, a lovely resort on the edge of the town with a range of activities available for our rest day.

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site It was listed in 1995 for its “unique and remarkably well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries including French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries”. The town also features some great restaurants, bars, markets and a number of attractions for visitors.

Day 19 Luang Prabang to Oudomxay 212 Kms

On our way out of Luang Prabang we plan to use a driver training centre for a short test section to start the day.

The road out of town has some potholes, but this changed as we moved into the countryside and by Laos standards this is a good road.

As this is a mountainous area there are few roads other than the main one, side roads being almost exclusively very rough and water damaged to use, so we need to stay on the main road through some lovely scenery.

After 100 Kms the character of the road changed as we turned onto a Chinese built road which will take us to our lunch stop in a small local restaurant overlooking a valley.

The afternoon route stays on the same main road before arriving at our overnight halt and something very different.

Nam Kat Yorla Pa is a protected forest region along the Nam Pien River and features luxury accommodation in a natural setting with large windows looking out into the wilderness, but a great restaurant and bar to while away the evening. Everyone should arrive early enough to enjoy a walk in the area or enjoy a Spa or relax by the pool.

Day 20 Oudomxay to Dien Bien Phu 215 Kms

Although this is a border day and usually reserved for transit, we couldn’t resist using the road from the resort for a short regularity section before joining the road towards the border and the final border crossing for the event.

The road to the border is an interesting drive, twisty and hilly as expected in a mountain area, but often narrow in places, particularly in villages.

The locals seem to treat the road as their front room as the houses are built almost onto the road and the families then sit, work, cook and play on the very edge, and sometimes even into, the road.

As we drive along the top of the river valley, we could see below floating bridges connecting one village to another and locals panning for gold, no doubt hoping for the big nugget that would change their lives.

A recently opened guest house by the Nam Ou River will be our coffee stop for the morning, the owners are currently building a restaurant on the opposite side of the road which is due to open later this year. They were really excited at the thought of the classic and vintage cars arriving, something very unusual for this area.

However good the coffee is we will need to move on and try to reach the border before they close for lunch around 12:00. Hopefully, the border closing will soon be a thing of the past as the Vietnam border is remaining open which will put pressure on the Laos side to do the same.

When the border is open the process seems quick and efficient, and we left our Laos agents behind and headed to Vietnam.

The 5 Kilometres between the Laos and Vietnam border is interesting, there are houses and also trucks that have clearly been parked for a while as they had strung up makeshift washing lines for their cabs and their clothes were drying well in the sun.

Once we reach the Vietnam border, we will be reunited with our Vietnam contacts who will be there to help crews through the border process. Once across the border we will head to the town of Dien Bien Phu. On the road into the town, we pass rice fields which grow a very famous type of rice, people from as far afield as Ho Chi Minh City travel just to buy bags of the local delicacy.

The name Dien Bien Phu may seem familiar to many people as it was the site of an epic and heroic battle between the French Colonial forces and the North Vietnamese Army. We should have time to visit an excellent museum on our way to the hotel. The museum tells the tale of the battle and features a fantastic diorama of the battlefield and many artifacts, well worth a visit.

Our hotel for the evening is close to the city centre so there will be a chance to explore and enjoy a nice cold beer before dinner. We have an earlier start in the morning.

Day 21 Dien Bien Phu to Sa Pa 318 Kms

Getting out of Bien Dien Phu should be easy with little traffic, but it might take a while to readjust to the number of motorbikes and the rather eccentric driving of the locals.

A nice quiet backroad away from the main road will be the site of our first competition of the day, it is also a great drive out into the countryside of Northern Vietnam, and you will experience real life as we drive past villages and schools.

A quick coffee and fuel stop is next on the agenda and a new coffee shop with nice views was found. Unfortunately, their coffee machine was away being mended but they promise it will be back in time for the event. If not then try an excellent Mango Smoothie instead and some sunflower seeds, which seemed to be a local speciality.

The local ethnic Thai population settled in the area some generations ago, and the women wear their hair in a bun on top when they are married, a clear sign to any potential suitors. They also wear their crash helmets over this bun, which is a very strange sight indeed.

The rest of the day I can only describe as a truly epic drive through some amazing scenery, past tea plantations and over twisting, winding, wonderful roads.

At the end of such and epic day it is only right that we should end it in an epic hotel, and we did. The town of Sa Pa is vibrant and colourful and will be a great base for the next two nights.

Day 23 Sa Pa to Ha Giang 295 Kms

Leaving the splendour of the Sa Pa hotel behind we will head once again into the countryside of Northern Vietnam.

In the middle of the town of Lao Cai we turned right at some traffic lights, had we turned left we would have been at the Chinese border, and then use a road along the river the other side of which is China. You can see stretches of wire fencing, but whether that is to keep the Vietnamese out or the Chinese in is a good question.

Having cleared Lao Cai we will drive some more regularity sections. The second is over narrow concrete roads through a plantation and is very different to anything we had driven on before.

A short break and a chance to get a cup of coffee will be provided by a local garden centre, a chance to look at some exotic plants and maybe arrange delivery back home.

The maps for this area show a series of roads, but these are either very rough dirt or narrow concrete roads with big unguarded drops, neither of which are suitable to use.

After lunch at the Panorama Restaurant, well named for the spectacular views from the terrace, we continue around a long loop through the countryside which includes another one or two regularity sections before crossing a Bailey Bridge for the final few kilometres to the main road.

The road is currently under repair, and we had a slow and challenging few kilometres before finding good tarmac again, things should be much better next year.

The time spent driving slowly was not entirely wasted as we were able to watch the locals collect and stack large sheets of very thin wood into neat piles. We asked a local what they were used for, but all he could tell us was that they were destined for China but had no idea what they were used for.

Having finally re-joined the main road and good tarmac the run in to Lang Son for the hotel went quickly, with just a stop at a police checkpoint on the way, and a chance to refuel before an early start in the morning.

Day 24 Ha Giang to Lang Son 377 Kms

Today we were faced with a simple choice of routes. Go via the expressway and Hanoi or the shorter, slower but far more interesting countryside route. There was really only one decision to make, the countryside won.

The QL34 road is just over 200 kilometres of good tarmac that twists and turns its way through the northern Vietnamese countryside, with amazing views and plenty of villages to see the locals at work.

The town of Cao Bang marks the end of the QL34 and it will feel strange to join a huge 8 lane straight road after so many kilometres of twists and turns.

Our agent had recommended a buffet restaurant which had recently opened in the outskirts of the town, and we will stop there for lunch, what an amazing place. Each table has its own built in BBQ in the centre, and diners help themselves to raw seafood and meat to cook themselves, or they can choose from some cooked dishes if they prefer. After the long drive it is a great place to enjoy a leisurely lunch before the final run to Lang Son.

After the twists and turns of the QL34 it will be nice to join a faster main road for the final part of today’s journey to our overnight hotel in the city of Lang Son.

On our route to the overnight hotel, we drive through the town of Dong Dang, which is the gateway from Vietnam to China for goods in this region. The queue of trucks stretches for many kilometres, thankfully in the other direction to the one we are heading in, but you do wonder just how long some of the drivers must have to wait to get across the border.

Our hotel for tonight was a lovely colonial style building in the centre of Lang Son and with a shorter day tomorrow a chance to have a later start will be very welcome.

Day 25 Lang Son to Halong Bay 221 Kms

Our final competitive day of the event and much studying of maps, Google Earth and local advice was used to try and give a final “sting in the tail” to the event.

We are now out of the mountains and into the flatter country close to Hanoi, so the number of people and villages has increased making it difficult to find suitable roads for competition.

We found a really wonderful concrete road, which will be a challenge for all after which a coffee stop would have been a good idea. Unfortunately, there were no sensible options available so we will use a filling station with decent toilets and will think of a way to provide crews with some refreshments.

Google Earth suggested trying a small road running through the hills towards the coast and the first part was superb. A lovely concrete road, made a little muddy and slippery by recent rains, was a great reward before finishing the section before a village. After the village the road changes and is currently being upgraded. The road WILL be good, when they finish rebuilding it, which is due for completion at the end of August, the amount of machinery and people working on the road would suggest that this timeframe is correct.

The road will make a great final section of the event as it heads through the hills before reaching the main road and a final run to the coast.

Our home for the next two nights is the resort town of Halong Bay, used by many Hanoi residents for both weekend and annual holidays. One highlight will be a boat trip around the many islands in the bay and a chance to swim, go kayaking or just relax with a drink on the boat.

Enjoy the rest day before our final run in to the finish in Hanoi.

Day 27 Halong Bay to Hanoi 153 Kms

We wanted to make sure the final days driving was as easy as possible so crews could get to the finish, drop their cars off at the shippers and be in the hotel with plenty of time to get ready for the prize giving dinner in the evening. The only sensible option is to use the expressway.

Although we had seen many motorbikes in other towns and the countryside it was still a bit of a shock to see so many in one city, a reminder of how it had been at the start of the event in Ho Chi Minh City. Once again, however, everyone avoids everyone else and the system seems to work, you just need a little patience and a working horn.

We have looked at a number of options for the finish venue and our agent is working hard on these, more news to follow.

It will be a truly memorable journey lasting 27 days, covering 4 countries and 7,000 kilometres, but thankfully only one time zone. Let us all look forward to January 2024.