RALLY THE GLOBE ADDS FURTHER GLOSS TO SPARKLING SHAMROCK

  • Exciting new partnership with Irish Racing Green 
  • Award-winning vintage rallying showcase shifts up a gear
  • Pre-registration open for next event in May 2023

Rally the Globe is delighted to announce that it has been invited to partner Irish Racing Green in the organisation of the Shamrock Vintage Challenge, a much-loved annual event for pre-war cars which has been hailed as putting the fun back into rallying in Ireland.

First staged in 2018, The Shamrock is the well-received brainchild of three vastly experienced and enthusiastic individuals: Mickey Gabbett, Michael Jackson and Shane Houlihan.

Their combined passions for driving legendary cars competitively on Ireland’s remarkably scenic and traffic-free roads have produced one of the popular sport’s most desirable and enjoyable of all historic rallies. Indeed, in just its second year, the lauded event was awarded the coveted ‘Spirit of FIVA’ award by the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens.

Last year’s Shamrock attracted a full 50-car entry with participants travelling from all round the world with their evocative Alvises, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Frazer Nashes, Rileys, Talbots and other early motoring icons not only to compete but also to savour the renowned hospitality of the Irish.

Such has been the success of the Shamrock’s unique character and flavoursome appeal, that the founders floated the idea of a partnership  with Rally the Globe in order to ensure that the event will continue to go from strength to strength.

As a specialist – though not-for-profit club – Rally the Globe will provide their professional touch in key areas such as pre-event promotion, route book production, on-event logistics and mechanical support, while the Irish Racing Green team will continue to supply the inspiration and in depth knowledge to produce remarkable routes, varied tests and that extra spark that has come to define the Shamrock.

“It’s really a win-win scenario,” confirmed Jackson. “We will be there sharing the wonderful Shamrock spirit that we’ve created while maximising Rally the Globe’s proven expertise in the actual management of the event. What’s more, we know just how much Rally the Globe shares our passion for the Shamrock as so many of its leading lights have competed wholeheartedly in previous years.” 

Indeed both Rally the Globe’s Chairman Graham Goodwin (photo above) and Chief Operating Officer Mark Appleton were top six finishers back in May this year, while Rally Director Fred Gallagher (photo below bottom) competed in 2019. Gallagher also hails from Belfast, so is no stranger to the many, many delights Ireland has to offer.

“For so many great reasons, I’m thrilled that Rally the Globe has been asked to play such a significant role in the future of what has quickly become one of the truly unmissable fixtures on the vintage and classic car rallying calendar,” enthused a delighted Gallagher.

“The Shamrock may have only run three times but it has already, quite rightly, earned itself a massive reputation. The countryside is beautiful, the open roads are epically uncongested, the pubs are fantastic with proper Guinness and the Irish hospitality is world famous – all the right ingredients for the perfect old-school rally.” 

“It’s great kudos for Rally the Globe that Irish Racing Green approached us about establishing this new partnership,” added Goodwin. “As I experienced for myself earlier this year, they have created a huge hit enriched with wonderful Irish quirkiness and now, together, we will build further on what’s already been achieved.”

The springtime date for next year’s Shamrock – 8-11 May – has already been announced and all those keen to secure a place on the coveted 2023 start list can pre-register their interest via links on both Rally the Globe and Irish Racing Green websites.

Although there are hopes to expand entries a little, numbers will be limited by available accommodation and, with Rally the Globe events often reaching full capacity, participants are encouraged to register early.

YPRES TO ISTANBUL CHALLENGE HERALDS THE RETURN OF EPIC DRIVING ADVENTURES

  • Incredible European escapade puts trans-continental rallying back on the map 
  • Victories for classic Porsche 911 and vintage Bentley crews
  • 20 days of amazing competition across eight countries
  • Paving the way for great upcoming events exploring America and Asia

Billed as taking competitors from Belgium’s rally capital to the edge of the Orient, Rally the Globe’s latest incredible driving adventure has been widely applauded as the club’s most significant success to date.

The epic Ypres to Istanbul Challenge (13 June-3 July), which finished with a well-earned prize-giving ceremony aboard a boat cruising on the Bosphorus on Sunday, was not only Rally the Globe’s longest ever event but also – more importantly – heralded the return of great, trans-continental motoring escapades for vintage and classic cars after the lifting of pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

The welcome European adventure also acted as the perfect trailblazer for next year’s Alaska to Mexico Marathon and the Road to Hanoi Marathon which follows early in 2024. Illustrating the pent-up enthusiasm among participants for these amazing, life-enhancing experiences, the former already has a full entry list with a reserve list now open and limited places on the latter are also filling up swiftly.

Fuelling these passions, the Ypres to Istanbul Challenge traversed eight countries and included nearly 80 competitive sections on the spectacular 5,500kms/3,500-mile route. As a ‘Challenge’ category event these were staged on both asphalt and gravel surfaces, often exploring the more remote areas of these regions.

The action started with both Regularity and Speed tests on the well-rallied roads in Flanders with poignant reminders of the battles fought between 1914 and 1918, including a moving visit to the Menin Gate. Leaving Ypres the competitors journeyed on through the Ardennes and the Eifel to the winelands of the Mosselle and Rhine and a first rest day in the beautiful city of Prague.

The route then headed southeast through the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Romania – four countries in just five days – before a second rest day to re-fettle cars and refresh crews in Bucharest.

The final section then headed east stopping short of the shores of Black Sea by taking a tortuous route over the mountains to the Turkish border and onto the spectacular finish in Istanbul.

Among the many, many highlights were Speed tests staged at illustrious race and rallycross circuits as well as a pair of memorable, crowd-pleasing tests held on closed roads in the city centre of Arad in Transylvania.

As ever on a Rally the Globe event, the entry featured a wonderful selection of evocative automotive icons from yesteryear. Among the 26 cars lining up in the medieval town square outside Ypres’ historic 13th century Cloth Hall were an array of WO Bentleys, a stable of thoroughbred Porsche 911s and a wide range of Mercedes classics.

Adding further spice and interest, the entry also included a big-hearted early Range Rover, a little known 1933 Alvis Firefly Special and a 1982 Citroen 2CV 007 Special crewed by plucky Australians Phil and Laurette Macwhirter.

While camaraderie was always to the fore, the competition was fiercely fought with several lead changes both among the veteran and classic categories.

Clint and Dawn Smith in their 1925 Bentley were the pace-setters in the pre-war class but their hopes were dashed on a dramatic Day 13 in the storm-lashed Carpathian mountains in southern Romania. Their troubles handed final victory to fellow Bentley crew Graham and Marina Goodwin (photo row six below) with Andrew and Ann Boland claiming second spot in their 1936 Ford V8 Convertible.

“We nearly lost it at the start when we dropped the ball and slipped way down the leaderboard,” admitted Goodwin. “We were a bit down in the dumps but we knew that this was a long event, and with all of our experience in long distance rallies we decided that there was enough time to make amends – thankfully we were proved right!”

The battle for the lead among the classics was even more fiercely-fought with the 1965 Ford Mustang of Roy Stephenson and Mark Bramall swapping top spot several times with the 1965 Porsche 911 of Steve and Jenny Verrall. Sadly, with four days to go, the American pony car was slowed by electric gremlins.

With the Mustang now limping home, the duel for runner-up honours behind the victorious 911 really hotted-up. Incredibly after 20 days of high-octane competition the 1959 Volvo PV544 shared by Mike and Lorna Harrison tied with Ean and Alison Lewin’s 1973 Ford Escort Mexico – the former only taking second place trophy on a tie-breaker as their car was the older!

“We are delighted with this win; we always do our best and we take every day as it comes… but to roll home in first place is extra special,” admitted the victorious Steve Verrall who has been a huge Porsche enthusiast for 35 years. “The event was organised superbly. Rally the Globe are an amazing team and every day ran seamlessly”.

As well as the overall and class awards, discretionary prizes were awarded, too. The Spirit of the Rally was presented to Renate Hanselmann and Lukas Ospelt who, despite only having three wheels on their  wagon – a 1939 Ford Model 91A – from time-to-time, never stopped smiling. The Against all Odds trophy went to Jean Vincent and Marcel Peumans whose Bentley Speed Six reached Istanbul despite blowing a piston ring on the very first day and stripping and rebuilding the engine during the rest day in Prague. Three WO Bentleys also claimed the team prize.

By universal agreement, though, the biggest winners were the Rally the Globe team which had successfully organised another truly remarkable adventure, much of it planned during the toughest of global circumstances.

“We’ve managed to do something unique here in running a highly competitive, yet incredibly social rally, through the middle of Europe,” enthused Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s vastly experienced Rally Director and the mastermind behind the Ypres to Istanbul Challenge.

“Getting a rally to Istanbul has long been a dream of mine and, despite all of the extra problems we’ve had to overcome, today it all came true,” added a delighted Gallagher after welcoming home all of the intrepid finishers with the time-honoured chequered flag. “I must thank the whole team for their extraordinary efforts as well as our incredible group of travelling marshals, medics and mechanics. We really could not have done it without them.”

Mark Appleton, the Clerk of the Course, was equally thrilled with Rally the Globe’s latest standout achievement and is already looking to the future.

“Clearly this has been another absolutely outstanding event which has left the crews wanting more of the same,” said Appleton. “So, now we turn our attention to rallying even more of the globe with next years Alaska to Mexico Marathon and then onwards to the Road to Hanoi.”

You can see the final Results, film and photo highlights by clicking on the image below

CARRERA ESPAÑA HAILED AS RALLY THE GLOBE’S BEST YET

  • Spectacular driving adventure through the mountains of northern Spain
  • Victories for classic Aston Martin and vintage Frazer Nash-BMW crews
  • UNESCO sites, race circuits and Parador hotels deliver in spades   
  • Ypres to Istanbul Challenge follows in June 

Set in the spectacular mountains of northern Spain, Rally the Globe’s sensational Carrera España (25 April – 5 May) has been acclaimed as the club’s best event yet with incredible driving roads, inspiring competition, splendid accommodation and two worthy winners.

The fast starting 1955 Austin A90 Westminster of Adrian Hodgson and Mark Bramall set the early pace among those in the Classic Category but they were swiftly overhauled by ultimate victors Alan and Tina Beardshaw in their iconic 1965 Aston Martin DB5 (photo above).

Similarly in the Vintage Category, early pacesetters Graham and Marina Goodwin aboard their 1925 Bentley Supersports had to settle for second spot behind the hastening 1937 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 shared by Martin and Olivia Hunt (photo top below).

Neither prizewinners are strangers to the podium; the Beardshaws came out on top in Rally the Globe’s inaugural Carrera Iberia back in 2019 while Martin Hunt won the recent Generations Rally set in the English Lake District earlier this year… and both crews were delighted with their latest successes.

“Tina and I have been married and rallying together now for 50 years and this is not just the best Rally the Globe event to date but the best rally we have ever competed on,” lavished the praise from the elated Aston Martin driver.

Hunt was equally enthusiastic. “We have been following the most beautiful cars through simply breath-taking Spanish scenery and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he extolled.

The amazing 2,000 mile journey of discovery through the often undiscovered wonders of northern Spain started from the architectural gem of Barcelona on the Mediterranean Sea and finished 11 days later in Santander on the Cantabrian coast.

Providing exceptional competition, camaraderie and culinary delights as promised on a Carrera style event, the well-conceived, all-asphalt route featured 30 Regularity Tests and 8 Speed Tests interspersed with notable overnight halts in magnificent Paradors and former Benedictine monasteries.

It all started in the five-star Miramar Hotel overlooking Barcelona and the city’s former Grand Prix circuit in Montjuic Park with 30 eager entrants revving up for the start. These ranged from the big, century old 1922 Bentley of Gavin and Diana Henderson to the svelte 1976 Lamborghini Urraco P250S of Italians Enrico Paggi and Federica Mascetti.

After a fast start lapping Barcelona’s current Formula 1 circuit, regularities followed in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The route then travelled west through the Rioja region and into the ancient kingdom of Aragon before a return to the mountain roads in the high Sierras and a well-earned rest day in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Salamanca.

With cars and crews refreshed, participants then headed towards the river Douro and the Portuguese border before embarking onto the twisty, winding highways of Galicia.

The final couple of days were spent exploring the stunning driving roads through the idyllic rural life of the sparsely-inhabited Picos de Europa National Park.

Among the many, many highlights en route were speed tests at both the Navarra race track and the Fernando Alonso Sports Complex plus vistas of the extraordinary Roman aqueduct in Segovia. A fabulous prizegiving dinner in Santander’s palatial, and exquisitely positioned, Eurostars Hotel Real was another notable peak.

As well as honouring the victors at the gala dinner, Rally the Globe presented two discretionary accolades: the ‘Against all Odds’ trophy being awarded to Beat Erni and Barbara Mahrenholz for overcoming fuelling issues in their 1963 Sunbeam Alpine and the ‘Spirit of the Rally’ award going to Chris and Rita Dillier for their unfailingly cheerful attitude both when aboard their 1930 Ford Model A and when in the bar!

“Driving through the snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa under a deep blue sky was an incredible finale to what was an unbelievable rally – I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the team,” enthused Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s vastly experienced Rally Director who had masterminded Carrera España.

“People are always amazed by just how many mountain ranges there are in Spain, all blessed with terrific, traffic-free roads – you really are spoilt for choice when organising such wonderful driving adventures. The spirit shown by all the crews was just fantastic and I’m really looking forward to meeting them all again on some of our future rallies.”

With the next fixture on Rally the Globe’s calendar now only weeks away, Gallagher may not have to wait too long to make some welcome reacquaintances.

The epic Ypres to Istanbul Challenge commences from the Belgian rally capital in mid-June and takes crews on a three-week escapade to the Bosphorus at the far end of Europe.

Running under Rally the Globe’s ‘Challenge’ banner of rally categories, it will be somewhat more adventurous than the Carrera España with the 3,500 miles (5,500 km) route including a wide variety of demanding gravel and unsurfaced roads.

While still in the wake of the pandemic, this year’s calendar is focused on exploring Europe, plans thereafter are more global with even longer Marathon events confirmed for both North America and South East Asia.

Entries for those are already open as well as a chance to pre-register for Rally the Globe’s next Carrera – taking place in June 2023, the eagerly-anticipated Carrera Riviera will journey through la belle France from north to south.

INSPIRATIONAL NEW GENERATIONS RALLY FUELS YOUTHFUL PASSIONS

  • Rally the Globe’s innovative family-friendly adventure wins new admirers  
  • Three days of sun-drenched competition in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Pennines
  • Oversubscribed entry with Frazer Nash and Austin-Healey crews claiming outright victories
  • Significant number of young – and female – participants, many contesting their very first rally 
  • Igniting enthusiasm for forthcoming escapades in Europe, America and Asia

Staged in brilliant spring sunshine, Rally the Globe’s first-ever Generations Rally (25-27 March) has been hailed as a brilliant triumph on all fronts – notably in introducing the wonders of the sport to a new, younger audience. Indeed, it was such a stellar sell-out success that a follow-up event has already been announced for the same weekend in 2023!

While next year’s rally will be based in the north east of England, the inaugural Generations Rally was centered in the poetic English Lake District National Park and also explored the similarly open roads and spectacular scenery of the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines.

Created specifically to ignite the passions of potential future endurance rally competitors – notably those of a younger age – the innovative event was open to driver/navigator crews of distinctly different generations in both vintage and classic car categories. The concept was so well received that all 75 entries were snapped up well in advance with, once again, a prominent number of eager competitors able to travel from overseas: France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland as well as the USA.

Remarkably nearly 50 of the participants were aged under 30 with a significant magnitude of those super-keen female competitors. The youngest of all was Pat Blakeney-Edwards’ son James doing his first rally aged just 13 (photo below FMC122).

When the dust settled, victory in the vintage classification went to retro racer Martin Hunt and his young co-driver James Galliver aboard the former’s sporty 1937 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 roadster (photo above). Among the more recent Classics, the spoils went to Stephen and Alexander Chick in their beautiful 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk1 (photo middle below DSK 496).

In the true character of the rally’s pioneering Generations theme, the Chicks were a father and son crew while 24-year-old Galliver is Hunt’s son Theo’s best friend from school. Endorsing the family-friendly theme, Theo himself teamed up with his mother Olivia to finish third in category in another of the formidable Frazer Nashes.

“It was just fantastic,” enthused an understandably delighted Hunt senior. “The big bonus, of course, was the incredible weather but the route was every bit as spectacular – we travelled though parts of England I never knew existed.

“Although, to ease the passage of newcomers into the sport, the rally was billed as being ‘not too difficult’, it certainly wasn’t a Ladybird book! By the end, it was quite competitive which made doing rather well all the more rewarding.”

To bring novices quickly up-to-speed, tutorial sessions on navigation and endurance rally skills were organised in advance and the short three-day format was cleverly designed to enthuse rather than to alarm new recruits.

Once all the professionally overseen paperwork and mechanical scrutineering checks had been completed on Friday morning, the full capacity field of eye-catching cars set off under an azure blue sky from the luxury Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa hotel, set idyllically on the shimmering shores of Lake Windermere.

Whetting appetites, the afternoon’s route included marvelous views from the top of the Honister Pass and introduced newcomers to the challenges of both Regularity and Speed Tests, the latter staged at the kart track in Rowrah.

Saturday’s itinerary served up a slightly tougher array of challenges for navigators and drivers alike. An unforgettable ride over rolling empty roads of the picture-perfect North Pennines, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, was followed by a well-deserved lunch at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. Further Tests and Regularities came swiftly thereafter before an even trickier map-based final Regularity – this required increasingly confident crews to plot the shortest route possible between three marked points whilst approaching and departing in the correct direction.

To provide competitors with an early afternoon departure, Sunday’s schedule included a short morning of further Regularities and navigational assignments before lunch and prize-giving back at the event’s Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa headquarters where participants were splendidly hosted throughout.

As well as the coveted sporting awards, two further discretionary gongs were presented to crews that had best captured the effervescence and infectious camaraderie of the event. The Spirit of the Rally accolade went to Nick and Jessica Sleep in their Bentley Supersports and the Against all Odds trophy was awarded to Rory and Ingrid Woodhouse for their stirring efforts aboard a Riley 12/4 Sports.

“It was just a terrific event,” enthused Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s vastly experienced Rally Director. “The Generations concept proved to be a real winner on all fronts. So many parents were clearly not only thrilled to be sharing their passion for these motoring adventures with their children but also delighted to be spending such quality time together.

“It was also impressive to see just how quick and agile young minds are at coming to grips with processing information and multi-tasking often under stress and at speed. Many have already caught the rallying bug and are super-keen to be given another opportunity to put their newly gained skills to the test. And that, after all, was what Generations was all about.”

Much to his surprise, Gallagher was promoted to Clerk of the Course for the event at the last minute after Mark Appleton, the event’s creative architect, sadly tested positive to Covid just days before the start.

“It’s a massive credit to all the great work Mark had done in advance that everything ran so seamlessly over the weekend and also great credit to the strength-in-depth we now have within the Rally the Globe team,” praised Gallagher whose own focus now switches to the next three fixtures on the Rally the Globe calendar, all of which are staged in continental Europe.

First up is Carrera España (24 April – 5 May). Running to Rally the Globe’s much-prized Carrera format with asphalt surfaces and luxury hotels, it explores northern Spain from a starting point in historic Barcelona.

Covering close to 3,500 miles (5,500 km) the following Ypres to Istanbul Challenge (13 June – 3 July) is somewhat more adventurous with the route east including a wide variety of gravel and unsurfaced roads.

The year then concludes with the Vintage Dolomites (24 September – 2 October). Exploring the Austrian Tyrol and Italian Dolomites, it is reserved exclusively for Vintage category pre-1946 cars.

While this year’s calendar is focused on exploring Europe, plans thereafter are more global with Marathon events in both North America and South East Asia already announced. Entries for those – as well as next year’s Generations Rally sequel – are already open.

Video highlights from the Generations 2022 Rally

ON THE ROAD TO THE EDGES OF THE ORIENT

Aware that time is galloping by, we at RtG decided that the recce for this summer’s Ypres to Istanbul Challenge needed to continue. Previously we had covered the section from the start to the Czech / Austrian frontier, but there was still a long way to go.

Jim Smith and I met up with our trusty recce Hilux, Y1 RTG, in Prague on the evening of 3 January and proceeded to get the first of a number of mandatory COVID PCR tests. With the pandemic ripe across Europe and a lot of snow featuring in the various weather forecasts we were somewhat sceptical as to how far we could get. First objective was to get to the Hungarian border with Romania and the end of the Schengen area with the first likely border check.

 

Recce Day 1 (Rally Day 7)

We had already driven a route from Prague to Český Krumlov back in August 2020 so today was all about refining it. The weather was grey and wet as we left Prague and we soon decided the first regularity was far too easy and deleted it. The other sections were top class however and they, combined with some great tests, will present a good challenge after the rest day. Our rally hotel was still closed so we stayed in the lovely town of Budweis where the beer, of course, was great.

Recce Day 2 (Rally Day 8)

We visited UNESCO World Heritage Site, Český Krumlov, first thing next morning and started the road book from the main square where our rally hotel is situated. An excellent, new, gravel section was first off followed by a fairly long test round a few farm buildings. Then a regularity to a remote border crossing into Austria. This was unmanned, although it won’t be on the event, and our PCR tests went unchecked. Austria looked as immaculate as ever even on a gloomy afternoon and another decent regularity on super smooth roads before descending to the River Danube, which will be our frequent companion for the next two weeks.

Recce Day 3 (Rally Day 9)

Very early on our third day the snow started to fall and didn’t really stop. Minor roads were impossible so having found a charming coffee stop in a mountain Gasthof we descended to the plain and entered Hungary. Immediately over the border the appearance of the towns, villages, farms, roads and people, was totally different from what we had seen before. The town of Koszeg has a pretty square and we arranged for the cars to be parked there while competitors have lunch in one of the adjacent restaurants. Forest regularities and an intriguing gravel test took us to Sumeg and our hotel.

Recce Day 4 (Rally Day 10)

We awoke to a cloudless blue sky and bitterly cold temperatures. The previous afternoon we had visited a tremendous permanent race circuit and tried to rent it for a test at the end of Day 9. This was impossible but an agreement was reached to open Day 10 with it so we retraced our steps a little to integrate it into the route. It promises to be a busy morning with the circuit, a Rallycross track and a testing gravel regularity before a café lunch overlooking Lake Balaton. After lunch we are in the Great Hungarian Plain where, as expected, the countryside is flat, and the roads are straight. Just outside the city of Pecs, thanks to our friends in the local motor club, we hope to have a short hill climb followed by a twisty, and wonderfully hilly, regularity. Pecs, pronounced “Pech”, was founded by the Romans and is full of wonderful architecture. We had planned for the rally to carry on to Szeged but Pecs was so delightful we decided to end the day there. We will be split between two hotels, one very grand but a bit faded, the other modern and bright. Both are a very short walk from the main square where we hope to park our cars overnight.

Recce Day 5 (Rally Day 11)

A short way out of town we found a long, twisty regularity before going back down to the plain, where everything was shrouded in fog. We stopped in Baja, again on the Danube. This city is known to Mark Appleton and me as it was a stop on John Brown’s 1998 London to Cape Town Rally. We stopped at our original choice for the rally, the Novotel in Szeged, and by this time snow was falling heavily, everything was shrouded in fog and the maps were out to help stitch the new plan together.

Recce Day 6 (Rally Day 12)

From Szeged it was a short run to the border with Romania where once we had our COVID vaccination certificates scanned we were quickly on our way. Our original plan was for the rally to do a test or two near the city of Arad and then sleep in Timisoara. The latter city turned out to be surrounded by miles of industrial warehouses and having seen a decent looking hotel in Arad plans were changed yet again.

Recce Day 7 

Jim and I had two nights in Arad to let me catch up on route notes, maps and future plans. We had got into Romania, which already felt like a victory, and in the evening found a very pleasant pub attached to a micro-brewery with decent food and no goulash to be seen. Bliss!

Recce Day 8 (Rally Day 12)

Back in Arad, where the streets were treacherous with ice, we searched for a city official to help arrange things in the area. I was sent from office to office and saw levels of bureaucracy that I thought had disappeared with the fall of communism. Finally, after 90 minutes of queues and disinterested shrugs I found a charming multilingual woman who worked directly for the mayor. After a tour of the rather grand City Hall, we were off on our way through snow covered roads happy in the knowledge that Arad would work for us. The afternoon got better and better; a tremendous, long section through a forest was followed by an amazing hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere. There was lots of enticing gravel but with daylight fading fast thanks to the time lost in the morning we reluctantly gave up and headed for our very welcoming hotel in Sibiu.

Recce Day 9 (Rally Day 12/13)

With everything under a thick covering of snow we headed off to cover the end of Rally Day 12 in reverse before returning to make the road book notes. The snow got increasingly deeper and just as we were considering a U-turn we got stuck, and properly so. It was minus nine degrees and it took a full hour before we finally got some traction from a wooden pole wedged under the front right wheel. Finally free, we turned around, contemplated a warming brandy, but decided the mountainous section of Rally Day 13 could be explored. And what a section it was. The Transalpina is Romania’s highest road, built by the military in 1938 and opened to traffic in 2012, although for safety reasons it is still closed from 18h00 to 08h00 each night. Views were spectacular and we discovered a couple of hefty gravel regularity sections to keep the competitive level high.

Recce Day 10 (Rally Day 13)

Today we descended from the mountains and onto the plain heading for the capital, Bucharest, but not before discovering some interesting back roads and a couple of test venues. Our arrival in Bucharest was surprisingly simple and the luxury of the JW Marriott hotel was much appreciated after some hard days on the road.

Recce Day 11 (Rally Day 14)

Another day getting the notes in order, obtaining the usual PCR test for Bulgaria, and eating some great food passed in a flash. For the first time we started to think that Istanbul might just be doable. And while it was still very cold, the snow had gone.

Recce Day 12 (Rally Day 15)

Before leaving the city, we took the rally route past the impressive Palace of the Parliament, reputedly the world’s most expensive building, built on the orders of the late socialist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. From there it was north to an excellent kart circuit on the city’s ring road before a quick dash south to the Bulgarian border, situated on the banks of our old friend, the Danube. Again no one wanted to see our expensive PCR tests but as usual we needed proof of vaccination. Bulgaria yet again felt very different with virtually all signposts in the Cyrillic alphabet and very Soviet-style architecture, at least to begin with. In the middle of nowhere we found a winery where lunch will be taken and any border delays recovered. The afternoon was spent looking, frequently in vain, for good gravel sections before we finally hit the jackpot close to the old capital city of Veliko Tarnovo and our hotel for the night.

Recce Day 13 (Rally Day 16)

We were joined after breakfast by our Bulgarian friend Damian Kirov, who makes the vast majority of RtG road books, and his friend Viktor. Their local knowledge was to prove invaluable over the coming days. Before a splendid lunch venue, they had already identified a potential closed road test, two fine regularities and a spacious kart track. The day ended with another regularity and a visit to Bulgaria’s only permanent race circuit on the outskirts of Plovdiv, our home for the next two nights. Before leaving the carpark, Viktor insisted we try some of the local Rakia, the country’s national drink. A search on the national website revealed the following gem – An important fact very few foreigners are aware of is that Bulgarians are heavy drinkers, and it is not a good idea to try to drink as much as them.

The following morning Jim and I very much wished we had followed that advice!

Recce Day 14 (Rally Day 17)

Today we drove a loop through the high mountains to the west of Plovdiv. Snow was back on the menu and the scenery was spectacular. We identified some great roads as well as coffee and lunch halts. Damian has the job of stitching them all together in the coming weeks. It was our final night in Bulgaria in a very comfortable hotel and we went to sleep with the realisation that Istanbul was a mere three days away.

Recce Day 15 (Rally Day 18)

Damian showed us a couple of interesting asphalt regularities just outside the city before we headed east towards Turkey. And then we discovered one of the absolute highlights of the event, a 45-kilometre loop of twisty, mountainous deserted roads with the occasional gravel section for good measure. It was jaw-droppingly good! Before we bade farewell to Damian he had one final discovery for us; a splendid, out of the way hotel restaurant where the day’s timing will end, and an outdoor barbeque lunch is planned. The man we met there spoke Bulgarian and Geordie having worked for a time in Newcastle in the Northeast of England! Entering Turkey took a bit longer than expected but our motor club friends in Istanbul have recommended a much quieter crossing and we will use that on the event. And so, we finally made Turkey. The rally hotel was still pretty much in lockdown with the bar and restaurant closed but we were recommended a splendid local establishment where a grand assortment of meze, grilled kebabs and cutlets and a good bottle of local wine came to almost €20!

Recce Day 16 (Rally Day 19)

The morning run to the shores of the Sea of Marmara didn’t look promising on the map but we discovered that most of the side roads were gravel and at times reminiscent of East Africa. Fittingly a Time Control section is planned. In Tekirdag we found an excellent venue for morning coffee before a wonderful, long, twisty road following the coast. This was followed by a long uphill gravel section which should be easier in summer than it looked in the January ice. We passed through Gallipoli in the Dardanelles before taking a short ferry crossing to Canakkale and our final night stop in a beautiful hotel with a fine fish restaurant on the roof.

Recce Day 17 (Rally Day 20)

Early next morning we found a surprisingly good regularity in the hills passing two dams. The section started rather gently and Jim commented “Too damned easy” before both navigation and driving became somewhat tricky. The section will be called “Two Dam Easy?”! After going back to the coast we discovered a really challenging, long, gravel section east of Bandirma. Conditions weren’t always great in January and it will be up to the 48-hour car to decide if this section is on, but if it is it will be a tremendous end to the rally. Our intended ferry to the heart of Istanbul was cancelled but we still made it home before dark, tired but delighted with what we had achieved. 

It’s going to be a hell of an adventure. We hope you can join us!

RALLY THE GLOBE LAUNCH NEW EVENTS IN NORTH AMERICA AND THE DOLOMITES

Rally the Globe are excited to announce an incredible new ‘Marathon’ event for vintage and classic cars in 2023, which will see crews journeying 12,000km south from the vast wilderness, unique wildlife and striking landscapes of Alaska to the tropical beaches of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

The extraordinarily diverse route will traverse asphalt and gravel roads lined with snow-capped mountains, wide open landscapes, alpine scenery, rugged deserts, ancient canyons, towering rock formations, beautiful beaches, giant sand dunes and tranquil fishing villages. With non-driving days spent in Whitehorse and Osoyoos (Canada), Moab and Palm Springs (USA), competitors will have time for some well-earned rest and reflection on their unforgettable experiences before the scenery transforms once more.

Three countries, crossing 38 lines of latitude in 30 days and one unforgettable journey. Pack your determination, competitive spirit, and sense of true adventure.

Our much-anticipated Vintage Dolomites, exclusive to pre-war cars, is now open to entries. The event will feature eight days exploring the incredible roads and scenery of the Italian Dolomites and Austrian Alps, starting and finishing close to Innsbruck.

With multi-night stays in Bolzano and Cortina D’Ampezzo, there will be time to explore the local restaurants, whilst a non-driving day in Cortina will also provide an opportunity for maintenance and repair work, a visit to the spa at our luxurious hotel or a wander through the chic resort town.

The event will have Regularity Sections on lesser-used Alpine Passes, which will be straight forward for the first few days but gradually become more challenging, driving tests at a variety of venues and time to enjoy this unique area.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, accompanied by ongoing unrest in Myanmar, the decision has been made to postpone the Road to Hanoi Marathon by a further year to early 2024 with an amended route to start in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon).

With Myanmar currently unsafe for international travellers, the new route will spend more time in both Vietnam and Thailand than was originally possible, exploring the stunning mountains and coastlines, and will now add Cambodia to the countries to be visited, as well as continuing with plans to venture into the less explored country of Laos.

The 8,500km route is packed full of gems including Angkor Wat, Chiang Mai, the Mekong River, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Sa Pa, the Tram Ton Pass and Halong Bay.

All of the above events are open to entries now. You can view more details on each event and request an entry form by clicking on the links below.

FROM THE SHORES OF THE MED TO THE ATLANTIC COAST

Day 1

Jim Smith and I met up on a Tuesday morning in late October on the waterfront in a very sunny Barcelona. After a quick coffee with our local “fixer” Pepe we looked at a couple of potential start hotels, Jim at the very important parking areas and me at the “fixtures and fittings”.

The following morning, after an easy run out of the city we found ourselves at the Circuit of Catalunya, home of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix where we had a fantastic welcome. We are not ready to reveal what our activities at the circuit will be, but fun is guaranteed.

From there we were quickly into the mountains and the first regularity section of the event, climbing up the Montseny Hill Climb course. When last used for the European Championship in the 1970s the winning average was over 105 kph which is hard to comprehend giving the tortuous nature of the road.  It goes without saying that you will be travelling at a rather more sedate speed.

We checked out another kart circuit and regularity before a splendid lunch venue in a beautifully hidden-away, countryside restaurant. Suitably refreshed we found a final regularity section over the Coll de Jou, and yet another potential test just a short distance from our overnight halt in a luxurious hotel at the foot of the Pyrenees. We dined content in the knowledge that the rally would get off to a fine start.

Day 2

Our second morning started very well with another mountainous regularity. We then searched a sizeable market town in vain for a morning coffee stop. Having given up we found a suitable fuel station with a well sized restaurant attached and arrangements were quickly made. 

Almost immediately after we found a road shown to be gravel on the map, but which had been freshly surfaced with asphalt and had the potential to be a challenging section. Duly completed we carried on to the next sizeable town, over 40 kilometres away, only to discover the single road out was closed, and was likely to remain so for the next month. Reluctantly we retraced our steps only to discover that the diversion made for an even better route!

A barbecue lunch was arranged for the rally and it seemed rude not to have a quick taster ourselves before tackling the 1291 metre high Puerto de Serrablo. A very varied liaison section then took us to a fascinating Parador in an isolated village where the mayor is promising to come and flag us in.

Day 3

An entertaining run out from the hotel brought us to the Circuit of Navarra, the only point in common with our successful 2019 Carrera Iberia. After a full inspection of the facility we decided that the great kart circuit was much more to our taste than the circuit used previously and an agreement was quickly reached. 

Then we drove through glorious vines with high mountains to our right and views all around. Last time in this area, our friends from the CVNE wine consortium welcomed us at Viña Real for the end of day MTC but this time we have been invited to lunch at their headquarters in Haro. The setting is spectacular and the meal promises to be one of the gastronomic highlights of the event.

A relatively short afternoon run saw us climb to over 2000 metres where we saw wild horses before descending to the modern Parador in Soria after another excellent day. Our only worry at this point was if we would be able to keep up these high standards for the rest of the rally.

Day 4

We started the day with a pair of regularities, the second of which features more junctions than can usually be found in Spain and promises to keep the navigators busy. Then a beautiful old hotel for coffee in the middle of a cobbled village with the main square closed specially for us.

The morning finished at a splendid circuit where Jim’s eagle eye noticed the potential for a second test on the site. We then moved on to a great lunch venue where the only problem, still unresolved, is to explain that a seven-course tasting menu complete with wine pairings is a little extravagant for a rally lunch – even on a Carrera!

We kept the afternoon deliberately short to allow competitors to explore the relatively unknown, but spectacular, city of Segovia with its amazing Roman aqueduct and imposing town square. The night’s modern, five-star hotel is perfectly placed to visit all the sights on foot.

Day 5

Today was All Saints’ Day and for once there was a little more traffic than usual on the Spanish roads. In fact, everyone seemed to be heading for our planned lunch stop, which was so busy we decided to make arrangements when we got back to the office.

We discovered two incredible long, twisty regularities either side of lunch, the merits of which will likely be debated late into the night when we arrive in our spectacularly positioned hotel in Salamanca on the eve of our well-deserved rest day.

Day 6

Mirroring the rally itself, we stayed for two nights in Salamanca. Jim washed the truck while I wrote up some notes before venturing into the old town. Continuous torrential rain meant that more time was spent huddled under an umbrella with a glass of local white wine than actually sightseeing, but it was good to have a few hours off.

Day 7

Back in January when I was spending lockdown preparing the route, entertainment seemed hard to find for this particular day . Luckily the reality turned out to be somewhat different.

The day began with a fast 90 kilometres over the Spanish plain, almost to the border with Portugal which we would skirt for the remainder of the day, and even at one moment briefly cross.

We were surprised and delighted to find an excellent regularity section that finished on the banks of the River Duero, or the Douro as it is known in Portugal. We then spent more than an hour searching in vain for a coffee stop on the river’s banks. Finally, we located a decent looking hotel which, although currently closed for the season, is keen to welcome us when we arrive in May.

Another twisty, climbing regularity, followed by a third which takes in an amazing metal bridge over the Duero, found us back at the Portuguese border. Crossing this briefly we passed through two villages that looked almost mediaeval in nature and, on each occasion, we were convinced we were on the wrong road. A rough wooden signpost said “España” and before we knew it we were on the way to Puebla de Sanabria and our simple but comfortable Parador in the village.

Day 8

The day started with deserted mountain roads and there was a real “middle of nowhere” feel. A couple of abandoned slate mines gave the morning a Welsh feel but didn’t prepare us for the biggest, active mine either of us had ever seen! It went on for about 20 kilometres before we descended to O Barco for much needed fuel.

A short regularity starting from Prada took us to lunch at a pleasant restaurant next to a fuel station before a short afternoon drive on minor roads following the course of the spectacular River Sil. Our hotel for the night will be the breath-taking Monasterio de Ribas de Sil where we sleep in the former monks’ dormitories, sympathetically updated with all the modern comforts.

Day 9

Next morning, we stayed on minor roads to avoid the rush hour traffic around Ourense. We knew there was a kart circuit in the vicinity but neither the maps or Satnav would reveal its location. Finally, we had to make a plaintiff call to the circuit manager who came and guided us in. We had been within 500 metres of the circuit without realising it and wasted a good hour in the process. Nevertheless, it was a great find and will host an exciting test.

A mountain regularity saw us find a great little lunch halt called Catro Ventos, The Four Winds, and they all seemed to be blowing at the same time as we were there! A simple afternoon run then took us to Corias and another monastery. Rather bleak on the outside, the interior was a revelation. A beautiful library, a fascinating museum showing the history of the site, a fine dining room and large comfortable bedrooms all added up to a memorable stay.

Day 10

The penultimate day was always planned to be a short one. A couple of interesting regularities took us to the outskirts of Oviedo and the Fernando Alonso Museum & Circuit. Contact had already been made and we were warmly greeted by the circuit manager Riccardo.

After an extensive site visit a plan was made to have an interesting test followed by the end of day Control. Then a few optional “activities” which have to remain secret for now before lunch on site. Of course, with the day’s formal competition over, participants will be free to go to our opulent City Centre hotel, although we suspect few will be able to tear themselves away. The Oviedo hotel is the third monastery in a row and by far the grandest. Situated in the heart of the city it is a fine base to explore the Capital of Asturias.

Day 11

Competitors will be entranced by the spectacular scenery on the final day of the event, but we saw none of it. Thick fog, torrential rain and then deep snow over 1500 metres meant this was a really testing day for us. We did find a lovely little coffee stop run by a very enthusiastic young couple who were at least able to show us photographs of the views.

We identified a suitable lunch halt and, as visibility improved, a splendid kart track for the final competitive element of the 2022 Carrera España.  From there it was but a short drive to the beautiful Hotel Real in Santander where the Rally the Globe story started back in 2019 and this time will host the finish and prize-giving party. 

In all, it was a very satisfying trip and the route and arrangements came together even better than we could have expected, leaving us excited for the event itself.  Over half of the available places have already been snapped up, so if you’re thinking of joining us just drop us a line at info@rallytheglobe.com .

CARRERA ITALIA: A WINNING TRIUMPH ON ALL FRONTS

  • Latin classic hails the return of international driving adventures
  • Ten days of spectacular action through the Dolomites and Tuscany 
  • Ari Vatanen presents top prizes to victorious TR3 and Frazer Nash crews  
  • Rally the Globe now preparing for full event programme in 2022   

Reigniting passions for international driving adventures, Rally the Globe has rekindled spirits and refuelled rivalries with the incredible Carrera Italia.

Set on some of Europe’s finest roads, the memorable ten day escapade was the not-for-profit club’s first foreign foray since the curtain came down on the pre-pandemic Southern Cross Safari set in East Africa in early 2020.

And, as the prizes were awarded to the winners by rally legend and newly appointed Club President Ari Vatanen, the meticulous efforts of the Rally the Globe team to mastermind such a swift return to overseas action were hailed by all as another massive – and very welcome – success.

The task of planning such a spectacular route with travel restrictions constantly changing was never less than challenging and the ingenious planners had to overcome many logistical difficulties – not least informing no fewer than 574 public institutions about the event and the booking of suitably stunning hotels under the shadow of Covid.

Their painstaking labours, though, were rewarded with a superb entry of 38 pre-1977 vintage and classic cars lined up for the start; these ranged from pre-War Bentleys and Frazer Nashes to more modern Jaguars, Mustangs, Porsches and Volvos. Moreover, emphasising Rally the Globe’s global appeal, competing crews came from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Liechtenstein, Ireland, the Czech Republic and the United States as well as the UK.

Inspired by Italian rally history, Carrera Italia started and finished in sun-drenched Sanremo on the Italian Riviera – home to the country’s round of the World Rally Championship for many years – and ran to Rally the Globe’s much-loved ‘Carrera’ format. These deluxe events feature great asphalt roads and fine hotels with competitive Regularity Sections and Speed Tests mostly set on permanent race circuits.

Exceeding its billing as an ‘Italian classic’, Carrera Italia spanned ten stunning days and 1750 miles (2800km) of unforgettable driving adventure.

The first few days saw the excited participants journey via the Ligurian Alps, Italian Lakes and Barolo vineyards to the resplendent resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo set in the Dolomites (where they encountered unseasonal snow), home of the Winter Olympics in 1956 and co-host again in 2026.

Two nights in the 5-star Hotel Cristallo then provided the perfect springboard for two more days of superb motoring on the stunning mountain roads surrounding Cortina.

The return journey to Sanremo was equally remarkable. Leaving the hills, competitors travelled via the Adriatic coast to San Marino – the world’s oldest republic where an exclusive drive through the magical old town had been organised – and then through the Chianti vineyards of Tuscany before a final overnight stop back on the Mediterranean coast.

Adding further spice, each day’s itinerary included a number of challenging Regularities to test both driving and navigational skills as well as exhilarating Tests at venues such as the Circuito Tazio Nuvolari, Autodromo di Modena and Pirelli’s secret state-of-the-art tyre testing track at Vizzola.

When all the score cards had been totted up, the prizes were presented to the winners by Vatanen, the renowned ‘Flying Finn’.

Completing a famous double after also winning last month’s Highland Thistle Rally, Mike and Lorna Harrison were crowned winners of the Classic category aboard their trusty 1959 Triumph TR3A

“Mike’s driving has been excellent, very good around the tests – particularly in the wet – and we wouldn’t have won without him acing those sections,” revealed a delighted Lorna. “As for the Regularities, there were some fun ones to deal with such as the one [Foza from Valstagna] with 21 hairpins!”

Top honours in the Vintage class went to the 1938 Frazer Nash-BMW shared by first time winners Bertie and Charlotte van Houtte (photo row 10 below in San Marino).

The two Overall victors were joined by class winners – Steve and Jenny Verrall (1965 Porsche 911), Roy and Rachel Stephenson (1973 Porsche 911) and Manuel and Irene Dubs (1965 Ford Mustang V8 Convertible) – and two special discretionary prize winners also given out by Vatanen.

The Spirit of the Rally prize was awarded to Federica Mascetti and Enrico Paggi for their unfailing good humour, helpfulness and fun throughout. And for bringing not one but two beautiful cars to the event having swapped their stricken Alfa Romeo for a more dependable 1967 Mercedes 190 SL after the first couple of days!

The Against All Odds trophy was presented to Ean and Alison Lewin for their efforts in not only keeping their 1973 Ford Escort Mexico on the road despite multiple mechanical issues, but also securing a top ten overall finish.

“Motor cars have given so much to the modern world and using them like this is a fitting way to honour their massive contribution,” declared the ever-enthusiastic and cordial Vatanen who was quick to join in the celebrated Rally the Globe camaraderie.

“To have Ari with us was a just incredible finish to an incredible event,” concluded Fred Gallagher, Rally the Globe’s illustrious Rally Director and one of Vatanen’s co-drivers back in the day.

“I must congratulate the entire Rally the Globe team for delivering such a fantastic adventure in what are still difficult times. The route was just unbelievable and, once again, to be experiencing the wonderful spirit of friendly competition was the perfect reward for all the hard work everyone has put in to reviving such epic events for all to enjoy.”

Rally the Globe returns to Cortina next autumn for the Vintage Dolomites, a shorter but no less spectacular six-day event reserved exclusively for pre-war cars. In the meantime, the club is gearing up for next spring’s Generations Rally set in the English Lake District plus the following Carrera España at the end of April.  Three weeks of June are reserved for an Eastern European adventure with the more intrepid Ypres to Istanbul Challenge.

‘ASTONISHING’ HIGHLAND THISTLE RALLY REFUELS PASSIONS FOR EPIC DRIVING ADVENTURES

  • Rally the Globe rekindles spirits with five days to remember in spectacular Scotland   
  • Historic and classic car competitors revive friendships and rivalries 
  • Top honours won by Bentley and Triumph crews… but not without their dramas
  • Focus now switches to mainland Europe for next month’s Carrera Italia – a true Latin classic   

Reviving spirits and renewing rivalries, Rally the Globe is back on the open road delivering unrivalled driving adventures for owners of evocative pre-1977 vintage and classic cars.

Having refuelled both passions and petrol tanks earlier in the summer with four short restorative Cloverleafs reserved exclusively for existing members, the not-for-profit club has just clicked back into overdrive with the Highland Thistle Rally – its first major event since the curtain came down on the epic Southern Cross Safari set largely in the game reserves of East Africa 18 months ago.

Starting and finishing in the Scottish seaside resort town of St Andrews, the rescheduled Highland Thistle (2-7 September) attracted a full-capacity, 35-car entry including teams from overseas as well as the UK. With travel restrictions now lifting, crews travelled from Germany, Switzerland, Kenya, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the USA all eager once again to savour the magnetic camaraderie and competition unique to Rally the Globe events.

Although, perhaps, more famous for another ‘driving’ sport, the ‘home of golf’ was the perfect location for the rally’s start and finish. Based not far from the famous Old Course, St Andrews’ splendid 5-Star Fairmont Hotel provided luxurious hospitality first for the eve of the rally formalities and the rekindling of friendships and then for the post-event prize-giving gala dinner.

In between, crews were treated to an incredible 1125 mile (1800km) of magnificent motoring. The meticulously devised route not only featured many of Scotland’s most spectacular, challenging and remote roads but also top-quality accommodation, fine cuisine, picture-postcard castles and a host of other activities and attractions – plus, of course, a number of competitive speed tests and regularity sections over which the rally itself would be won and lost.

There are few more inspiring experiences than a late-summer drive through the wilds of Scotland and the Highland Thistle Rally had it all: enchanting glens, vast moors, majestic mountains and beautiful lochs. Among the many stand-out highlights, crews travelled over the Ben Lawers pass, up the Rest and Be Thankful hillclimb, through Glen Coe, past the Quirang on Skye and over the Bealach na Bà on the Applecross Peninsula.

After five truly epic days of memorable motoring adventures on many of Scotland’s most iconic roads, Mike and Lorna Harrison took their 1959 Triumph TR3A to a stirring overall victory and top honours in the Classic category while Graham and Marina Goodwin sealed the spoils in the Pre-War category aboard their 1929 Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans replica.

Further class accolades were awarded to David and Jo Roberts (1963 Triumph TR4), Tony Brooks and Andy Lane (1976 Alpine Renault A310) and Manuel Dubs and Giancarlo Tottoli (1940 Ford Coupe). The Spirit of the Rally award was presented to the novice crew of Paul Taylor and Paul Haslam who, in their Ford Escort RS2000 displayed good humour throughout and the Against All Odds trophy was taken by Otakar Chádek and Zdenka Holecková for their effort in keeping their Mercedes on the right road despite an almost total lack of English!

Back at the front, neither the Harrisons nor the Goodwins had straight-forward victories – both crews overcoming major dramas en route to their respective wins.

With the finish in sight, the TR3A developed an unhealthy thirst for fuel and needed last-gasp technical assistance from the experienced Rally the Globe travelling support team to get them over the line.

“The sweep crew saved our bacon – without them we wouldn’t have made the finish,” admitted a relieved Mike Harrison. “At one point we thought we were going to have to push the car over the line but we made it with just a few minutes to spare before the cut-off time.”

Like so many others, Harrison was delighted to be back in action and full of praise for the efforts made by the entire Rally the Globe team.

“The last event we did was in New Zealand in 2020. We came straight back from that into lockdown and we’ve not been able to enter anything since. Thus, to do The Highland Thistle Rally in Scotland in such fantastic weather and with such great company has been absolutely astonishing,” he enthused. “The organisation was absolutely faultless and it’s been an exceptional experience all the way through. Rally the Globe really does have the right recipe for people to enjoy themselves doing competitive rallying in such wonderfully social surroundings.”

For the Goodwins the drama came before the start when their short-chassis Bentley 3-litre Super Sports suffered a fractured oil pipe and seized engine on the drive to Scotland. As a result it had to be substituted by a rather larger and less nimble Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans replica – a big beast which was far less suited to the narrow mountain roads, notably the tight hairpins down into Applecross.

“This wasn’t the car we intended to drive and it was pretty tricky at times but my navigator mastered the maps and we never took a wrong turn,” reported the victorious Goodwin who was another relishing the opportunity to get back in the hot seat. “The event was absolutely awesome,” he waxed lyrical. “Running a rally like this in the Highlands of Scotland is much harder than people think as the accommodation is limited and there’s a real art in finding roads through the best scenery which still facilitate a competitive rally – and this route was truly outstanding.” 

The Highland Thistle Rally’s widely-acclaimed success also delighted Goodwin in his role as Chairman of Rally the Globe and endorsed the club’s significantly revised plans introduced in response to the global pandemic.

“People want as much clarity and confidence as they can get in the current climate, so we made our strategic decisions based on what’s been happening in the world just as early as it was sensibly possible,” explained Goodwin. “Our strategy of restarting first in the UK and then moving back into Europe has been proven to be right as we’ve been able to get back rallying as swiftly as things have opened up. Ultimately, of course, we want to set our sights even further afield – we need to be realistic and yet adventurous at the same time.” 

Taking another sensible step on that road to revival, Rally the Globe’s next event – the Carrera Italia – comes on mainland Europe in just under a month’s time. It promises to be every bit as astounding as the Highland Thistle Rally with ten days of stunning driving through the majesty of the Ligurian Alps, Italian Lakes, the Dolomites and Tuscany.

CLOVERLEAF EVENTS REVIVE SPIRITS AS RALLY THE GLOBE RETURNS TO THE OPEN ROAD

• Revival events in Yorkshire and Scotland refresh passions, skills and camaraderie 
• Historic and classic cars venture onto some of the UK’s most spectacular roads 
• Huge demand encourages organisers to run both rallies twice 
• Focus now switches to Highland Thistle and Carrera Italia

Rally the Globe is back firing sweetly on all its beautifully blueprinted cylinders and the not-for-profit Club is once again delighting all owners of pre-1977 vintage and classic cars with unforgettable driving adventures.

No fewer than 16 silent months have slipped past since the curtain came down on the incredible Southern Cross Safari set in East Africa in March 2020, the enforced hiatus, though, has now been brought to a very welcome conclusion with the successful staging of four morale boosting Cloverleaf events closer to home in the UK.

Set in the spectacular scenery of Yorkshire and the west coast of Scotland, these restorative early summer Cloverleafs were specifically designed to raise spirits by reviving passions, refreshing old relationships and forging new friendships. While competitive Tests and Regularity sections were included to dust off both driving and navigation skills, the emphasis was always on putting smiles back on faces rather than the saving seconds on the stopwatch. To that end there were no individual winners, however special team prizes and Spirit of the Rally Awards were presented.

Providing participants with a safe environment in these still ever-changing times, the innovative Cloverleaf format included four days of outstanding driving based around three nights accommodation at the same luxury venue. Entries were limited to Rally the Globe members, with a maximum of 12 crews per event.

“After the recent global frustrations, we were super-keen to start running events that would meet whatever protocols might still be in place this summer,” explained  Fred Gallagher, the Club’s eminent Rally Director. “To that end, we focused our efforts on home soil and on finding suitable spots which offered both the safety of sole occupation as well as easy access to some of the UK’s greatest driving roads.”
 
“The original plan was to run one of these in Yorkshire and one in Scotland but, because of the extremely large number of entries we received, we decided to run both a second time thus ensuring everyone could get an overdue run.”

The exciting prospect of refreshing friendships and rediscovering the excitement of the open road also attracted a wonderfully eclectic entry of cars. Joining the ever-popular 1920s Bentleys, Porsche 911s, Datsun 240Zs, Aston Martins and Triumph TRs were less known motoring icons from yesteryear, including an AC Aceca-Bristol, Maserati Indy, Austin A90 Westminster, Jaguar Mk1, Citroen DS 23 Pallas, Talbot AV105, Rover P6 and Ford Escort Mexico. A couple of notable American cars were also on the quadrifoglio roster: a Chevrolet Fangio Coupe and Chrysler ’75 Roadster.

The two Yorkshire Cloverleafs (11-14 June and 12-15 July) were based at the idyllic Yorke Arms in Nidderdale just 25 miles from Rally the Globe’s headquarters in Leeds. The first afternoon’s action commenced in the beautiful stately splendour of Bowcliffe Hall and the rally finished three days later with lunch at the Michelin starred Angel at Hetton.

In between the carefully devised route through the Yorkshire Dales and over the Yorkshire Moors treated participants to wonders of ‘God’s own country’, taking them past the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, Wensleydale Creamery, the Tan Hill Inn (Britain’s highest pub) and the magnificence of Castle Howard.

Staged north of the border, the other two Cloverleafs (22-25 June and 19-22 July) were equally spectacular. They were centred at Laudale House – a sensational  residence at the heart of the 13,000 acre Laudale Estate on the Scottish west coast’s remote Morvern Peninsula.

Once all the paperwork was completed, a lone piper set competitors on their way from the beautiful village of Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond. This  time the memorable 76 hour driving adventure featured the famous ‘Rest and be Thankful’ climb, the awe of Glencoe, the wild beauty of Ardnamurchan peninsula (the most westerly point of mainland Britain) plus a magical trip to the epic roads and landscapes of Mull via the Corran Ferry… all en route to a five star conclusion at Cromlix House – the luxury hotel owned by tennis star Andy Murray serving up an ace finish to an ace event.

“Everybody was just delighted to get back out onto the road again and loved every single minute of both events ­– the feedback has been absolutely tremendous,” reported a delighted Gallagher who was equally pleased to see the Rally the Globe team back in the saddle. “It’s hard to imagine that the UK has any better driving roads than those that thrilled us in Yorkshire and Scotland and, perhaps more importantly at the moment, the camaraderie was just as excellent.”

Club Chairman, Graham Goodwin who participated in two of the Cloverleafs, was one of the many to heap praise on the excellence of Gallagher’s crack team. He lauded: “Planning and staging any rally is difficult but to do so many in such a short space of time, and in the current climate, is a truly fantastic achievement. These events were the perfect tonic we all desperately needed.” 

With spirits now raised by these four very welcome escapades, Rally the Globe is now gearing up for a return to Scotland in September before the reintroduction of more intrepid international fixtures later in the autumn.

Having whetted appetites with the two Scottish Cloverleafs, the longer and even more spectacular Highland Thistle Rally (2-7 September) includes five days of awe-inspiring driving through the glens and mountains. Starting and finishing in historic St Andrews, the 1,250-mile journey – significantly different to the one savoured by those on the Cloverleaf – travels through Scotland’s most iconic landscapes with a standout overnight halt in the rugged splendour of  the Isle of Skye.

The following month’s Carrera Italia promises to be every bit as astounding with ten days of stunning driving through the majesty of the Ligurian Alps, Italian Lakes, the Dolomites and Tuscany.

“A very limited number of places are available on both the Highland Thistle and Carrera Italia,” reported Gallagher. “However, following the huge success of our Cloverleafs, it’s fair to say that excitement is building and interest in those few remaining spots is predictably strong.”