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Previews of upcoming events, Race & Rally Reports, News, Reviews, Letters and Regulation Information from Historic Motor Racing News.

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Contents October Issue:  Latest News - Bits & Pieces - Rally News Tour Auto, Rally Asturias, Scottish Malts, VSCC Mallory Park, Seven Questions with Jean Ragnotti, Monterey Motorsport Reunion, Oulton Park Gold Cup, French Championships, Historic Tour Val de Vienne, Hockenheim Historic, Vallelunga Classic, Goodwood Revival (four pages form Marcus Pye) and the Limonest Hillclimb

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Rally News

After a hiatus of more than a year, HERO staged its first international rally, the Classic Marathon, a six-day adventure that covered a 2200km route through north-west Spain and Portugal. With changing legislation in various countries right up to the eve of the event, it took no small effort for crews and organisers to get to the start line in La Caldas in the hills above Oviedo in Spain. Nonetheless, 29 crews took the start, many from the UK where restrictions were greatest. For cars up to 1985, there were a number of pre-war cars, and cars of the ‘50s on the entry list, with the latest cars being the VW Golf GTi of Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan, and even an MG Maestro!

The route led participants through stunning scenery and some WRC rally stages Photos Will Broadhead

The last Classic Marathon was in Greece in 2018, and its winner, and rally favourite, Paul Crosby, led the field away in his trademark green Porsche 911, with Andy Pullan in the map seat. Perhaps it was the fact that the cars have had little recent exercise, but mechanical problems began to plague the field right from the start. Bill Cleyndert suffered wheel bearing problems in his Model A Ford Special, as did Crosby in his Porsche, dropping him down the rankings. It was Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose who took command in the Jaguar E-type and led until the half-way point, which was marked by a section across the infamous Portal do Inferno, or the Gateway to Hell. This road runs along a high ridge that splits the Aviero and Viseu Districts of Portugal and cuts a slender path at an altitude of some 900 metres, with abrupt drops either side - not a place for those with a fear of heights! Another highlight was the chance to tackle the Caramello Hill Climb under closed road conditions – twice.

Everyone is a winner: Just finishing the marathon event was a reason to celebrate - Alexander and Joanna Geigy at the finish line in their Triumph TR 3A

There was drama too on the final day. The rally fastidiously followed the sanitary procedures and protocols in vigour and as such all the competitors and personnel on the event had taken a PCR test within the time frame needed for return travel to home countries. Four tests returned positive results and those affected, as well as those sharing vehicles with them, were immediately asked to remove themselves from the rally, and isolate awaiting a second test.

With two regularities remaining on the last day, the fight was close at the top between Mark and Sue Godfrey in an MG B and the Crosby/Pullen Porsche, back up the order after their day 1 problems. In the end it was a mistake from the Godfreys that settled it, giving Godfrey and Pulled a mere 10-second advantage at the finish.

For a full report see our September 2021 issue

Such is the fame of the Historic Tour de Corse, the organisers took just a few weeks to fill the entry list in the three eligible categories:  VHC (historic racing cars), VHRS (sporting regularity) and Legend (on show no timing), for the 2021 event.

More than 300 cars and their crews, a new entry record, will be at the start in Porto Vecchio, on 3 October, among them drivers and co-drivers from 12 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. 

The field comprises numerous gentlemen drivers and major historic race regulars, but also professionals starting with the reigning winner, Alain Oreille and his wife Sylvie who triumphed last year in a Porsche 911.  The former double world rally champion in Group N (1989 and 1990), winner of the 1989 WRC Tour de Corse in his works Renault 5 GT Turbo and a regular in the historic event, will be out to add a second consecutive victory to his laurels.

Other notable entries have come from 1993 Dakar winner and winner of the 1986 WRC Tour de Corse, Bruno Saby, who will be at the wheel of a Ford Capri identical to the one in which he took part in the 1970 Tour de Corse with his father; and double French Rallycross champion, the talented Christophe Vaison will drive a BMW M3.  They will be up against plenty of local drivers, beginning with Christophe Casanova and Olivier Capanaccia, second and third in the 2020 event, in their BMW M3s and Marc Valliccioni, Thomas Argenti, Jean-Baptiste Botti and several other Corsican drivers determined to shine on their home turf.

A new 900km route will be covered in five days, comprising 18 special stages including some used by the WRC, in all 350km on closed roads and 550km of liaisons on the most beautiful roads the Ile de Beauté has to offer.

The 36th Stella Alpina tribute rally was held on June 11-13 on a route crossing 10 spectacular mountain passes and driving past six picturesque Alpine lakes.  With the majestic beauty of the Dolomites providing the backdrop for 65 time trials and six average speed stages, 12 time checks, and a total of 457 kilometres of mountain roads, first prize overall went Michele Lafortezza and Ilaria Carturan, in their 1969 Innocenti Mini Cooper MK2.  Second place on the podium were Mauro Argenti and Roberta Amorosa, in a 1969 Porsche 911 T 2.2, and Giovanni Pedrali and Simona Bonomelli came third in a 1956 Austin Healey BN4L 100SIX.  A modern Ferrari class was won by Fabio Vergamini and Anna Maria Fabrizi, in a 2017 Ferrari 488 GTB.

Photo Courtesy Canossa Events

The 2021 British Historic Rally Championship will now run over just three events following the cancellation of what would have been the opening two rounds of a shortened five-round season.

The Harry Flatters Rally (25 July) and the Plains Rally (14 August) were both due to run in Wales but have now been cancelled as hard pressed organisers decided that running the event under strict COVID rules simply placed too great a burden on already stretched organising teams.

The BHRC will now open with the Three Shires Stages

The Harry Flatters, due to run on the Epynt military ranges, could have gone ahead but a requirement to completely prevent spectators due to military training exercises prompted its cancellation for the second year.  Meanwhile, the Plains Rally was due to run in the forests of North Wales but the extra control measures needed also led to its cancellation.  Both events are due to return in 2022.

The BHRC will now open with the closed-road Three Shires Stages on 4 September followed by the Trackrod Historic Rally on 24-25 September and the Carlisle Stages on 23 October.

Having previously won with Andrea Guerini (twice) on the notes, then last year with his father Roberto, Andrea Vesco, this time with Fabio Salvinelli, took his fourth Mille Miglia victory, once again driving his 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport.  The time-distance contest ran counter-clockwise this year on 16-19 June, from Brescia to Rome and back in intensely hot conditions compared to last year, for some 1800kms through some of the most beautiful cities in Italy.  The Brescian driver won only on the last leg when he overtook Luigi Belometti and Gianluca Bergomi, driving a Lancia Lambda Spider Casaro of 1929, who had been leading by a mere three points.  Out of 375 cars at the start, 341 crossed the finish line back in Brescia.

A heatwave in Hungary saw the preliminaries for the 54th Mecsek Rallye, round three of nine in the 2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship, take place in 39 degree temperatures.  With promises of storms to come, the 24-26 June event started as dark clouds gathered over the first stage.  Heavy rain followed making the conditions tricky for the competitors on the forest roads.

‘Zippo’ Zivian and Denis Piceno took their second consecutive Historic Championship win.  Photos Sándor Tamás courtesy Mecsek Rallye

The Italian crew of Andrea ‘Zippo’ Zivian and Denis Piceno, driving the Audi Quattro with which they won round two of the championship in Czech Republic in May, took victory over reigning Category 3 champions Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner.  

By the 11th and final stage, ‘Zippo’ and Piceno were 1m41.6s ahead of the Austrian Porsche, with Lucio Da Zanche and Matteo Nobili, in their Category 4 Porsche 911 RS , 25.9 seconds behind in third overall and winners of the Category, 43.9 seconds ahead of the Finnish Audi Quattro of Ville Silvasti and Risto Pietilainen.  Alfons Nothdurfter and Juergen Nolte took their Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 to sixth place and the third step of the Category 4 podium.

Fifth place overall the Czech team of Vojtech Stajf and Vladimir Zelinka won Category 2 in an Opel Kadett,

In fifth place overall the Czech team of Vojtech Stajf and Vladimir Zelinka won Category 2 in an Opel Kadett, 5m09s ahead of reigning category champions Laszlo and Edit Mekler in their Alfa Romeo GTAM 1750, the Hungarian crew taking seventh place overall on home turf.   

Category 2 suffered the most attrition, when front runners on day 1, Anders and Ingrid Johnsen, retired with gearbox problems in their Porsche, and suspension failure side-lined the Ford Escort of Ernie and Karen Graham on SS8 after they had inherited the class lead.  Other retirements saw Maurizio Pagella not making the start on day 2 after the front right wheel of his Porsche was ripped off on SS2 and the Ford Escort of Richard and Lucie Ronay also suffered a technical failure after the second stage of the second day.  

Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo took their third Category 1 victory of the 2021 season

Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo took their third Category 1 victory of the 2021 season, finishing 12th overall, two places and five minutes ahead of the BMW 2002 Ti of Carlo Fiorito and Marina Bertonasco, the only other car in the category.

FIA Historic Commission President John Naylor celebrates with the podium winners

Rally the Globe has enlisted motor sport legend Ari Vatanen as its first Club President.  Now aged 69, the illustrious Finn was rally World Champion in 1981 and amongst other rallying successes won the Paris Dakar Rally no fewer than four times.  He was a part of the mythic Group B era and, more recently, served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009.  Though not Estonian, he is President of the Estonian Autosport Union.  He is also ‘Club Patron’ to Ireland’s Donegal Motor Club.  In 2009 he ran against Jean Todt for the Presidency of the FIA.

Ari Vatenen and Fred Gallagher took a podium place on the Sarfari Rally in 1998

The high-profile appointment also reunites Vatanen with his former co-driver Fred Gallagher, one of the founding forces behind Rally the Globe.  Together the pair won the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with Citroën Sport in 1997 and also teamed up to score a famous podium finish on the Safari Rally when sharing an Escort WRC for the Ford factory team in 1998.

“I’m honoured and touched,” said Vatanen.  “These historic rally events have real appeal.  They are full of spirit, comradeship and enjoyment and that’s my kind of lifestyle.  I love going back in time and looking at all these cars from the past and I’m really looking forward to being part of this very special atmosphere when I attend future events.” 

The Beauty of Historic Italy

Gianmario Fontanella and Anna Maria Covelli won the 11th  Terre di Canossa, which took place on 20-23 May, in a 1927 Lancia Lambda Spider.  After two and a half days of tough tests alternating with picturesque stops at sites of historical interest, passing through historic towns and villages usually closed to traffic, interspersed with fine meals, the pair also took home the Pre War Cup.  Taking a route that consisted of 650kms, with 63 timed sections and six speed trials with secret controls, Michele Cibaldi and Andrea Costa in a 1948 Fiat 1100 Siluro took second, while third place went to  Alberto Aliverti and Stefano Valente in a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato.  Winners on the average speed stages were Winand Cremers and Nathalie Peeters in a 1955 Austin Healey 100/4 BN2.

 

Despite travel restrictions and the difficulties faced by participants just to get to the start line in Salsomaggiore Terme, competitors came from all over Europe and even from the US and were rewarded with a stunning drive along the Ligurian and Tuscan coasts, including the Cinque Terre and Forte dei Marmi.  Travelling through the hills of Tuscany for a finish in Quattro Castella in Reggio Emilia, the heart of the domains once governed by Matilda of Canossa, crews also took on some historic Italian passes and hillclimbs along the way.

The first major classic road rally of the year was the HERO Summer Trial which ran over three days, from 4 to 6 June, from a base in Telford.  Nearly 60 crews took part in pre-1986 cars and the winners were BMW crew Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane who have twice been runners-up.

Despite COVID restrictions, the event was judged a great success as competitors tackled a route that took in special tests and regularity sections in the Shropshire and Staffordshire countryside, with 18 regularities and 10 tests in a 400-mile route over three days.

A tremendous final day top ten battle included a three-way fight for fourth with just two seconds between the crews with one test to go.  Former HERO-ERA Cup champion Paul Bloxidge navigated by his 15-year-old grandson Oli Waldock, hauled themselves up from fifth to second place.  It was a remarkable performance by the young navigator in an event which the experts said was not easy.  As a bonus, Oli took the ‘Clock-watcher’s Award’ for the best navigator after his stupendous efforts.

Photo Will Broadhead

Winner McQueen (BMW 323i) had been knocking on the door of victory several times before.  Co-driver Cochrane said, “Being on time and not being pushed is important.  We like to stay on the clock and make it up if we have to, rather than have time in hand.  Our tests have been fantastic, it used to be a bit of weak point for us but we were fastest on test one and second fastest on test two, so it started well.”

When the Boucles a Bastogne rally was cancelled last year, then again this year, the main reason was to avoid the large public gathering that the event attracts - so organisers decided that rather than waste all the effort of creating the route book and organising the marshalling and checkpoints, they would  put the public in the cars.  For a small fee, anyone could have a route book and travel through the famous stages in their own cars and see the rally drivers’ view, with no timing and no competitive element, in a COVID safe environment.  The positive response was massive.  Known as the Balade de Bastogne, it too was then postponed from its original April date.  

Finally, on the weekend of 8-9 May 450 cars were able to take to the famous stages.  “They ranged from the small vintage Fiat 500 to the Audi Sport Quattro, passing by Alpine A110, Renault 5 Turbo, Austin-Healey, and even Buggies and VW Kombis!  It was incredible,” said event Director Pierre Delettre of organising Club R.A.C. Spa.  “Good humour was widespread, the participants scrupulously respected the health rules in force, and everyone was able to have a hell of a good time ... “  So favourable was the reception, the R.A.C. will run the event again in 2022!