The 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial has been won for the second time in a row by John Abel / Martyn Taylor in their 1937 Lagonda LG 45. The event wasn’t all one sided as a spirited drive by William Medcalf / Dan Harrison saw them push the winners right from the very start – if it wasn’t for an error by the Bentley mounted crew on the innocuous Lake Vyrnwy regularity, the result could have been totally different. In third place were Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan in one of the drives of the event, their Arrive & Drive AC 16/80 March Special proving a delight to watch on the driving tests, remarkable in that the very talented Crosby had first sat in the vehicle just one week prior to the 1000 Mile Trial.
Forty-one vehicles lined up for the six day event outside the country home of the Royal Automobile Club’s country home at Woodcote Park, Epsom, the weather was a little grey and drizzly but spirits were high as the route promised to deliver a driving experience beyond compare for the assembled crews. The vehicles assembled encompassed a broad range, from an Austin Seven Super 750 right the way through to the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este award winning Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A, it is safe to say that the quality of entry was in a league of its own. Amongst the other vehicles taking part were an Alfa Romeo 6C Mille Miglia Supercharged, its family provenance stretching back to just after the war- the gentleman driver Count Giovanni ‘Johnny’ Lurani rescuing the precious vehicle from life on a farm as a chicken carrier! Couple this with the ex- Donald Healey Triumph Dolomite 8C and the sublime ex-Tazio Nuvolari Bugatti Type 37A of Viola Procovio / Jessica Dickson and the picture becomes clear that such a gathering has never been assembled before in the UK.
Heading out of Tylney Hall and forging their way north through to Coventry and Coombe Abbey the first full day of competition the top five crews were separated by just five seconds – with second to fourth tied on 36 seconds penalties. Robert Crofton / Fred Bent were a late entry as a crew onto the 1000 Mile Trial, their Arrive & Drive Riley 9hp Brooklands proving spectacular on the tests and with the addition of Bent’s huge navigational experience they were a force to be reckoned with on the regularities. Stopping at Blenheim Palace for lunch a large crowd gathered around the historic vehicles as they assembled in the external courtyard, it was to be a theme that followed the whole event and demonstrated the affection in which these cars are held.The first leg took competitors the short distance from Woodcote Park to Hook near Hampshire and the elegant surroundings of Tylney Hall where crews held their first overnight halt. From the off a fierce battle raged between Abel / Taylor and Medcalf / Harrison as they swapped seconds on the regularity sections, the Bentley pair were in a class of their own on the tests and were edging out a small lead into day two.
Coombe Abbey saw huge local interest with the local BBC radio station sending an outside broadcast unit to interview crews and organisers alike, as the event progressed more and more people lined the route cheering and waving the competitors on. The third day was once again a tough battle, Crosby / Pullan were the class of the field, rising to second overall, pushing Crofton / Bent into fifth behind another rising crew, John Ruston / Jeremy Haylock in a Talbot 105 Alpine. Lunch was served at Chatsworth House where another large crowd assembled to greet the crews – the staff at Chatsworth commenting that they had never had so many people midweek in the grounds and could only put this down to the visit of the event.
Day four saw the turning point of the event, leaving Chester behind, the event ventured across the border into Wales, what seemed like a straightforward regularity proved to be the downfall of Medcalf / Harrison, starting the section on private land allowed the organisers to place a control under the statutory two miles, arriving at the control 48 seconds early was a massive blow for them and promoted Abel / Taylor into the lead. The scenery in Wales was breath taking, the last few day’s rain had held off and gave competitors superb views across Horseshoe Pass, World’s End and Tanat Valley before heading down the Marches into lunch at Gregynog Hall. The afternoon halt was held at Croft Castle where a jazz band played to welcome crews with many of them being applauded by the assembled crowd. Martin & Lesley Neal were having a great run and held a fine sixth overall, another new pairing saw Viola Procovio / Jessica Dickson hold tenth, a testament to the skill of Dickson as this was her driver’s first ever regularity rally. The afternoon saw two iconic locations used for driving tests, Shelsley Walsh being the first and Chateau Impney the final action of the day and scene of the overnight halt before the penultimate day’s action.
An air of apprehension was hanging over Goodwood as crews left for the final leg, however, some merriment overnight saw the Triumph Dolomite 8C of Turner / Cussons given a full custom wrap in tin foil, the revenge was sweet after they found the perpetrator (Katarina Kyvalova) and filled her car with straw bales – then cutting the string to release their contents! Abel / Taylor eased off the pressure on the final leg to conserve the release bearing on the Lagonda but kept an eye on the competition behind them at all times, not even a final charge from Medcalf / Harrison could stop them now though.The fifth leg took crews from Chateau Impney to Goodwood on a very linear route that would call in at Slaughters Inn for coffee with lunch at Wilton House where a test was scheduled. The afternoon saw the outstanding run of Crofton & Bent come to an end with dynamo problems, they were able to get back in the hunt with a quick repair from the travelling mechanics allowing them to finish the leg, albeit in 13th, not a good day for Fred and it was his birthday! Heading into Goodwood via two tests at the hallowed hill-climb, Abel / Taylor held first with Medcalf / Harrison and Crosby / Pullan tied for second. The final day had some interesting sections and would pile the pressure on the Lagonda pair.
The champagne flowed as the finishing crews crossed the line in front of the imposing and beautiful Woodcote Park, many members and guests were assembled to welcome the competitors to Epsom. It had been a very closely fought event that went down to the wire, it ended with a well-deserved second victory in a row for Abel & Taylor, but they had been pushed all the way by Medcalf / Harrison.
Today has seen John Abel / Martyn Taylor edge closer to sealing their second win in a row on the Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial, a superb performance on the regularities saw Taylor bang four perfect times in a row to further enhance their lead. It wasn’t all plain sailing however as the Lagonda pair failed to stop astride on a test costing them ten seconds in penalties.
The battle for second could not be closer as Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan are tied with William Medcalf / Dan Harrison on 2:27, it could have been so different if the Bentley pair hadn’t lost so many penalties on the run down from Wales – they would now be leading the event.
The day’s route has been incredibly linear, the total mileage for the day was 215 which meant the pressure was always on for competitors, no time for sight-seeing today! Heading away from Chateau Impney the 1000 Mile Trial passed by Evesham, Swindon and Marlborough before taking a later lunch at Wilton House near Salisbury. The ensuing test saw plenty of action with a small patch of gravel allowing the drivers to really enjoy their vehicles. The afternoon saw the fine run of Robert Crofton / Fred Bent come to an end – the Arrive and Drive Riley 9HP Brooklands dynamo crying no more, the pair were able to re-start after some attention from the HERO Assist teams, unfortunately they had to miss some sections and dropped down to thirteenth overall, not a good birthday present for Fred!
Joint-second overall pair Crosby / Pullan were once again in fine form with a great score of 26 seconds, they even overcame being baulked by local traffic to keep in the hunt, the same applied to Stephen & Collette Owens, they were having a very good run this morning only to come across a horse and rider whilst in a regularity costing them a little time and to let them lie in 16th overall as we go into the final day.As the event has progressed, James & Andrew Mann have become fiercely competitive and are really getting into the swing of things now on regularities, they are posting ones and twos now whereas at the start of the event they were in double figures at times. Tony & Pauline Mather were quick on the test at Wilton House, they lost some time after a fuel pipe came off during a regularity, but were quickly back on road again.
The afternoon section saw the event start to head east passing by Romsey, Bishop’s Waltham and Horndean before two final tests at Goodwood finished the day off, crews are overnighting in the elegant surroundings of the Goodwood Hotel tonight before battle commences for the final time tomorrow.
It would appear that Abel / Taylor have the win in their sights as they go into the final day with a 41 second cushion, Medcalf / Harrison and Crosby / Pullan will be pushing them all the way now, just one slip could see the overall order change once again. The first car is due back at Woodcote Park tomorrow at 15:15, we will bring you the results and final report as quickly as we can.
A real battle royale erupted today as crews left Chester on the fourth leg of the 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial, heading south over World’s End close to Wrexham the first regularity had a little bit of everything to keep the crews entertained, this is a road that has everything, from intricate and twisting to open and flowing with views that are simply second to none. Following World’s End was a test at Crogen in front of the main house that gave way to a link section that allowed competitors the chance to soak in some of the best roads in the north east of the country. Passing via Tanat Valley the 1000 Mile Trial stopped briefly on the shores of Lake Vyrnwy, it was here that the leader board would start to take a different shape.
William Medcalf / Dan Harrison were in high spirits as they came into coffee at the Vyrnwy Hotel, as William stopped to speak to an official his handbrake lever broke in his hand, an ominous sign of things to come. The ensuing regularity started on private land and was then part of the ‘less than two mile rule’ for regularity sections, the Bentley pair overlooking this and came across a control with almost fifty seconds in hand costing them many places.. The lead was handed back to Abel and Taylor who had been swapping times with Medcalf / Harrison on the regularities, the tests were a different matter however with the power to weight ratio going in Medcalf’s favour.
Gregynog Hall was the next stop for lunch, despite being in mid-Wales and quite rural, there was a large crowd assembled to greet the competitors, Gregynog is an imposing building set in some of the best gardens in Wales, the sun shone and crews enjoyed a fine meal at the hall before taking in some more regularities that would head them toward England and Croft Castle. Robert Crofton / Fred Bent were experiencing brake problems, but still maintaining an incredibly consistent pace. John Ruston / Jeremy Haylock are still fighting for the overall win with Abel / Taylor and are ever improving, a similar crew are Tony & Pauline Mather in their Citroen Traction Avant who drew a large round of applause from the large crowd gathered outside Croft Castle this evening.
It was a delight to be at Croft Castle as the (considerably large) assembled crowd were treated to some wonderful Jazz music and some period dress by a duo who were quite superb, a backing track was played and ‘The Charleston’ was performed in front of the assembled crowd, just as crews started to arrive to loud applause from the spectators, it was a magnificent sight to see the front of the Castle lined with people vying for the best positions to take and be near the vehicles.
A similar tale was told as we headed east into the midlands and through the last regularity of the day, the PR Crews had done a fine job with most of the route lined with spectators waving and cheering as cars went past their homes. Shelsley Walsh is an eternal favourite of HERO events and a run up the hill was very well received before the final action of the day at Chateau Impney, Jonathan Taylor / Ben Cussons were on fire here, blisteringly quick over the test, eclipsing Medcalf / Harrison and Abel / Taylor in the process.
We have a big day tomorrow where we head south to end up in Glorious Goodwood, there are a handful of seconds separating the top seven in what has become an epic battle in this event. The 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial reaches its penultimate day tomorrow, we will bring you the news and results as soon as they happen.
We have had some big changes at the head of the leaderboard, William Medcalf / Dan Harrison have had real trobles today, the handbrake on ‘ Sexy’ the Bentley snapping in William’s hand as they reached morning coffee over Lake Vyrnwy. Their woes weren’t all one-sided however, Dan fell foul to a time control situated on private land arriving 50 seconds early, clipping the wings of the previously high flying Bentley crew.
This has handed the lead to John Abel / Martyn Taylor in their Lagonda, they are still being hampered by transmission problems and with the roads being so hilly, progress is quite challenging at times for last year’s winners. John Ruston / Jeremy Haylock are going incredibly well in their Talbot 105 Alpine just 22 seconds behind the leaders, Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan are still in with a shout despite dropping a chunk of time due to a vehicle baulking them costing them valuable seconds.
Lunch was served at the imposing and beautiful Gregynog Hall where once again a large crowd had gathered to meet and greet the crew, this update is being written at Croft Castle where we have a Jazz with the first car of Wessel von Loringhoven / Patrick Burke has just arrived to huge applause.. More later from Chateau Impney
Today has seen a real turnaround in the results as several of the front runners have come across problems with either navigation or mechanical issues. At the top there were some nerve racking moments for Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan in the Arrive & Drive AC March Special, during the afternoon section in the Peak District, the normally ultra-reliable vehicle started to use coolant, a quick fix by the HERO Assist team saw the problem rectified and they are challenging William Medcalf / Dan Harrison for the top spot once again.
A crew with both mechanical maladies and navigational issues are Sue Shoosmith / Trina Harley in their Bentley, as well as a slight fuel leak the normally consistent pair missed a control which sent them into freefall to end up 14th overall. The event is also giving mechanical headaches to last year’s winners John Abel / Martyn Taylor in a Lagonda, what appeared to be a clutch release bearing fault has now developed into something more noisy and they are hoping to keep going in the event.
It does seem that Medcalf / Harrison are leading a charmed life regularity wise, approaching a intermediate timing point they were in danger of being baulked by a local coach, luckily for them the coach pulled over to let them past costing them just two seconds in penalties. Later in the day they were in a similar situation with a local car, only for the same thing to happen but dropping them eight seconds this time.
Leaving the splendour of Coombe Abbey this morning the crews headed north through the west Midlands via two incredibly slippy tests at Arbury Hall and Merevale before entering the poignant National Memorial Aboretum near Rugeley, it was here that Federico & Michael Goettsche Bebert encountered problems in their Alfa Romeo 6C MMS, the steering running dry making the vehicle almost impossible to turn and steer, they were transported to Chatsworth house where the steering was stripped and re-greased, allowing them to continue after lunch.
Skirting past Wirksworth the 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial entered the peak district, it was here that Clerk of the Course, Guy Woodcock, started to pile the pressure on competitors with some very intricate navigation- this caused several wrong turnings and overshoots at a particularly tight junction. The way the route was presented was another factor, those competitors who were not ‘on the ball’ fund themselves missing an instruction and going on the wrong route. A superb effort from Marshals Graham & Sue Parkinson saw them camouflage their car to conceal their control, this with a clever placement of the control caught many competitors napping, costing them time.
The next sections took place in the heart of the High Peak before descending into the plains of Cheshire, Woodcock pulled another ace out of his sleeve with some not as map junctions taking time out of many competitors.Chatsworth House was the backdrop for lunch with large crowds of people assembling to meet and greet the competitors, it is obvious that these beautiful old cars mean so much to people with a steady stream of onlookers passing by the vehicles, even Chatsworth Staff were commenting that they would never expect to see so many visitors midweek. We were honoured to have a descendant of one of the original competitors of the 1900 1000 Mile Trial join us here, Clarence Gregson’s great grandson attended Chatsworth and was in awe of the superb array of vehicles on show.
A final section in the heartlands of Cheshire brought the event into the historic town of Chester for the overnight, we have an incredibly tight tussle at the top and it could go anyone’s way, we venture into Wales tomorrow with some truly iconic roads and scenery to keep the crews entertained. As the week has progressed the camaraderie between crews has grown, the rest and meal halts are buzzing with the stories and adventures of the day, friendships are being made but the competiton still remains strong.
More tomorrow from Wales.
After leaving the idyllic Tylney Hall, crews set off on the journey up through the Cotswolds before heading to lunch in the surroundings of Blenheim Palace.
A lot of nerves were evident with this being the first full day of competition with many competitors being new to the sport there was map-checking aplenty in evidence, the deep ford at Bucklesbury caused a few crews problems but in the main the run out was trouble free for many. However, Bert Degenaar / Loes Vrij decided to park their beautiful Bentley Blower here, the huge machine sucking in a little water through the supercharger, happily no mechanicals were incurred allowing the Dutch crew to run on after a little inspection from the HERO Assist team.
The route changed slightly from the twisting lanes of the south east to a more rolling and open feel as competitors headed north, Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan were struggling with a faulty trip meter in the Arrive & Drive AC March Special. Rob & Jeanne Jeurrissen report no problems and are thoroughly enjoying the challenging route set out by CoC Guy Woodcock, Crossing Lambourn Downs the Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial stopped briefly at the White Horse Pub at Woolstone for morning coffee, a crowd of people were here to greet the event and made the pub incredibly busy. Even further north was regularity 2/2 just to the west of RAF Brize Norton, looping around the lanes near Carterton, it was here that Medcalf / Harrison started to pull out all the stops in their Bentley.
Passing by Charlbury the event was warmly received at Woodstock, it was a delight for most crews to drive through Ditchley Gate and take in the sight of the Victory Column before lunch, Grand Bridge providing a fitting backdrop as crews arrived at Churchill’s birthplace, a large crowd gathered to meet them, many coming from overseas to witness the vehicles parked in the Courtyard at Blenheim. Urs & Denise Mezger reported further fuel issues with their Morgan Three Wheeler at lunch, the Bentley Blower of Deganaar / Vrij was back in the hunt for a short while, only to find further mechanical problems after its earlier encounter with the ford.
Robert Crofton / Fred Bent are having a great run in the Arrive & Drive Riley 9 HP Brooklands, their regularity scores nothing short of outstanding and has catapulted them into third overall as we go into day three. From Blenheim we ventured into event partner Bicester Heritage’s complex where a very warm welcome awaited crews, two tough tests ensued with very few problems bar overshoots and some crews not stopping astride lines. The tests did put a strain on the Alfa Romeo 8C Spider of Paul Gregory / Nick Savage, after leaving Bicester Heritage and heading via a regularity section near Fringford, a half-shaft cried no more and left them out of the running for a while. Bill Ainscough / Vincent Fairclough went well here, as did Medcalf / Harrison to throw them into the lead past Abel / Taylor in their Lagonda.
The overnight was held at Coombe Abbey where crews were interviewed by the BBC, a huge local interest in the area saw the cars being viewed by many locals. We run further north today with the prospect of the Peak District and Meres of Cheshire to keep crews entertained, it looks like an immense battle is ensuing as just eleven seconds separate the top five with three crews tied. The Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial is once again proving to be enthralling, keep checking back for the latest updates.
A very good evening from the wonderful surroundings of Tylney Hall.
The 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial has started with a bang – literally! As Manuel Enes and Alexandra Pombo attempted the first test (climbing up The Captains Drive) the differential broke on their MG J2, with them having completed just 300 yards of the event. Happily, the on event service and logistics team were able to source a differential within driving distance, the vehicle was repaired and is now back with us at Tylney Hall – all sorted in the space of five hours!
It seems that the gremlins are out in force for several crews, Jayne Wignall / Kevin Savage have had a series of electrical problems in their Sunbeam 20hp Sports, first a condenser failed, then the coil burnt out, final a rotor arm failed which has left them (uncharacteristically) with some rather poor scores for the first day, we are happy to report that it seems all have been fixed and they are back in the hunt.Seren & Elise Whyte are having a bad start to the event, their Austin Seven Arrive & Drive vehicle has a small fuel tank, holding just four gallons. The distance between fuel stations saw them run out of fuel leaving them at the side of the road, they sourced some fuel from a passer-by only to find it was water, they have made it back to Tylney Hall after being pushed to the nearest village for fuel!
Jose Ramao de Sousa is being navigated by Manuel Ramao de Sousa in their Alvis Speed 20 SA, an intermittent ignition problem is causing them problems with the vehicle cutting out several times and then re-starting after some considerable effort on its behalf. Urs & Denise Mezger are also having problems in their Morgan Three-Wheeler, fuel pump issues saw them stopped for a short while, the on-event service crews quickly diagnosing and repairing the errant part. Several crews are attempting the event without the aid of trip meters, a great performance from Ben Cussons / Jonathan Turner in the Triumph Dolomite 8C saw them lose just 24 seconds over the first leg. The keenness of the crew was evident as they charged up The Captains Drive at Woodcote Park, the marshal reporting that they were a little previous away from the start!
The beautiful Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A of Winfried Ritter / Gaby Weig has retired from the event after being sold, the vehicle too rare and precious to be driven further in anger. This vehicle drew large crowds at the Royal Automobile Club’s Woodcote Park, its presence and styling making it one of the stand-out vehicles on Cedar Lawn.Setting away from Woodcote Park at 13:30 exactly, the Bugatti Type 37A of Viola Procovio / Jessica Dickson charged away up the steep incline and out on to the 2015 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial, a very quick effort from them saw the clock stop at 1:07, however, last year’s winners John Abel / Martyn Taylor were fastest up the Drive with 56 seconds, nipping at their heels were William Medcalf / Dan Harrison, their Bentley 4 ½ Litre just one second behind and sounding spectacular – the exhaust note reverberating around the countryside near Epsom.
Heading away from Epsom, crews headed south-west in the lanes between Dorking and Leatherhead, a short practice regularity named Effingham eased competitors into the event before the event started properly. Reg 1/1 Winterfold was another short affair, the introduction of a film set since the final route recce a week or so ago meant that some competitors were held up by associated traffic, it proved testing for several of the crews. On next to the infamous “Dunsfold Aerodrome” the home of Top Gear where the second test of the day saw a battle between the larger engine vehicles ensue. Medcalf / Harrison were joint fastest here with Cussons / Turner. Abel / Taylor were third, two seconds down on 1:11 with Stuart Anderson / Richard Lambley posting 1:13 in their Bentley 4 ¼ Litre.
Afternoon coffee was served at Frensham Pond before a run out to Odiham for the second regularity, Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan were really into their stride now and despite an intermittent trip meter fault were top performers here. Also going well were Abel / Taylor, Sue Shoosmith / Trina Harley in their Bentley and Martin & Lesley Neal in their diminutive MG TA.
A crew not having such good fortune were Steve & Julia Robertson, three route instructions close together saw them take the wrong road, the following attempted turn-around saw Steve reverse into a bank putting some patina onto their freshly restored MG PB 4-seat Tourer, happily the resulting domestic discussion has subsided and they are sharing the day’s events with other competitors at Tylney Hall…
After starting the day in numerical order we will re-seed by drivers name tomorrow on the run away from Tylney up to our eventual destination of Coombe Abbey, the first car leaves at 08:00, after a short day today, normal service will be resumed as we head north to Coventry.