London-Lisbon 2013



Reports and information

In the year of the model’s 50th anniversary, Porsche 911’s came in first and second at the finish of the of the London to Lisboa Reliability Trial & Classic Car Tour on Sunday 5th May – The overall win going to father and son team Michael & Simon Baker.

Her Excellency Jill Gallard, the British Ambassador to Portugal, and the Deputy Mayor of Lisbon Mr. Manuel Brito dropped the chequered flag on the two cars. Drivers had set off from Greenwich, in London, on Saturday 27th April, on a 2386-mile route across England, France, Spain and Portugal, and arrived in Lisbon on Sunday 5th May after nine days of tough classic rallying.

Patrick Burke,  Managing Director of HERO, said: “It was a fantastic adventure. We had sun, rain and even snow across the Pyrenees, and the response from the public has been amazing. It was a real challenge for drivers but also a moving spectacle for people along the route, who gathered to watch the cars at the official stops and tests along the event.” On Saturday, the penultimate day of the rally, the crews visited Caramulo in Portugal and ran a test on its famous hill-climb, where 2.5km of public roads had been closed by the police exclusively for the event.

Peter Nedin, Event Director of HERO and clerk of the course, said: “The side roads were blocked by police cars and officers were stationed at the top and bottom. Two runs of the hill were given to the crews, who tested their skills in front of hundreds of people that had gathered to watch the cars. Several local enthusiasts also turned up in their classic cars, which were parked at the start area – it was fantastic!” In the evening, the crews visited the Museu do Caramulo where a dinner had been organised by the grandsons of the Museum’s founder, which was something that had never been done before.

Patrick Burke said: “After dinner we had exclusive access to the car collections and were able to sit in some amazing cars, including a 1931 Bugatti 35B or a pre-war Rolls Royce, amongst others. It was an extraordinary experience for all of us.”

On Sunday 5th May, the crews were joined by approximately fifty classic vehicles driven by members of the ACP Classicos, the Portuguese classic car club, and were led from a holding area in Lisbon to the finish line at the famous Praça do Commercio by clerk of the course Peter Nedin. The classic car convoy of almost a hundred cars altogether was flanked by police motorcycle outriders who stopped the traffic at all junctions and allowed the cars to run through red lights. Around two thousand people turned up to welcome the cars and see the finish of the event at the Praça do Commercio, which does not allow cars since it was refurbished. However, HERO had got special dispensation that allowed for the cars to circulate and remain on display for the public to see.

The event officially finished when the crews gathered for the Awards ceremony and dinner at the Lapa Palace, an event partner, with the presence of His Royal Highness Dom Duarte Pio, the Duke of Braganza, who handed the awards. Other guests included representatives of the Camara Municipal de Lisboa, the Secretary General and Board Director of the ACP Classicos and representatives of the British Embassy. The winners of the London to Lisboa classic rally were Michael Baker and Simon Baker in a 1978 Porsche 911 SC. The father and son team from Bolton, winners of the 2012 HERO Cup, eventually finished with just 35 penalties on the regularities, earning Simon the Clockwatcher’s trophy for best performance on the regularities. The Bakers, who are regular and experienced competitors in HERO events, also won the ‘Best UK Crew’ award.

Chas Colton, from Cheshire, and Guy Woodcock, from North Wales, finished in second place in their 1965 Porsche 911 2.0 SWB. Chas Colton won the Test Pilot Award as he had the best overall performance on the tests. They were closely followed by the Swiss crew formed by Michael Gerber and Christophe Kung in a 1965 Austin Healey Mk I BT7, who came in third and also won the ‘Best Non-UK Crew’ award.

Hagerty’s crew Angus Forsyth and Marcus Atkinson who drove a 1930 Austin 7 Ulster, one of the oldest cars in the event, received the Veteran’s Award and the Spirit of the Rally Award after an heroic journey. Marcus Atkinson, Marketing Director of Hagerty, said: “Amazingly we’ve made it to Portugal, after the core plugs blew and had to be replaced near Bordereaux. The battery also died late that night in the pouring rain but we managed to make it to the monastery in St. Estevo, Spain, where we charged it with the closest connection found in the monastery car park. We were then advised that we were not on a rally, but an incredible journey!  I think everyone was rooting for us to finish!”

The Austin 7 was also part of the team ‘Numb Bums’ – for the lack of comfort in the cars – who won the ‘Team Award’. The team was completed by a 1930 Riley Brooklands 9HP driven by Tomas de Vargas Machuca, Chairman of HERO, and Seren Whyte, and a 1938 Riley 12/4 Blower SPL driven by Italians Michele Di Paolo and Igino Angelini. Tomas de Vargas Machuca said: “We are grateful for the help of everyone that contributed across England, France, Spain and Portugal to make the London-Lisbon rally an epic event. And special appreciation to ACP Classicos and the authorities of the City of Lisbon who helped us build an exceptional atmosphere for the arrival in Lisbon.” He added: “We believe everyone experienced a wonderful week and enjoyed the route and event as a whole. We even had some participants asking when the next event would take place.”

Read the report from the Octane Team who are driving an Arrive & Drive Porsche 911 Click here



5th of May 2013

Leg 9 / Caramulo – Lisbon

The following are on-event reports by Peter Nedin. Clerk of the course London to Lisbon 2013

The order of merit remained unchanged during the last two days as Simon and Michael Baker ensured that their first overall was not going to slip into anyone else’s hands – they eventually finished with just 35 penalties on the regularities, earning Simon the Clockwatcher’s trophy for best performance on the regularities.

The highlight of Saturday, the penultimate day of the event was the visit to Caramulo and the famous hill-climb. The municipality couldn’t have been more helpful. At 4.30pm the police captain issued a formal road closure order and 2.5km of what is normally public road was closed for normal use until the hill-climb test was concluded. Side roads were blocked by police cars and officers were stationed at the top and bottom. We were grateful for the help of the local hill-climb marshals who were stationed at regular intervals – using radios and flags they were able to monitor all matters of safety. Two runs of the hill were given to the crews, with a loop bringing the cars back to the start for the second run. A large crowd had gathered and were not disappointed as each driver tried to outperform the rest of the field. Several local enthusiasts turned up in their classic cars which were parked up at the start area.

On completion of the two runs the crews checked in at the hotel adjacent to the start line and attended a special dinner at the Caramulo Museum across the road from the hotel. The museum houses a collection of fine art and a large collection of classic and historic cars of all types, including some iconic Formula 1 cars. After dinner the crews and officials were given free access to all parts of the museum, being allowed to examine and sit in the cars on display.

Each day was getting warmer and by mid-morning on Sunday, the last day of the event, the temperature was around 27 degrees. Friday was to be a more relaxed day with just one regularity and a test at Abrantes Kart circuit followed by lunch at the café. There was a “drift” meeting at the circuit which stopped for an hour to allow the crews on our event to complete the tests. This meant that there were a large number of spectators present to enjoy modern and classic cars on the circuit.

After lunch the run to Lisbon and the regrouping control near to the Expo Centre took the crews through the picturesque cork plantations, where the trees are carefully harvested for cork. Anyone who has visited this part of Portugal will quickly see that it is a myth that the trees die when the cork bark is removed. Careful management of the tress, with harvesting only taking place after several years of re-growth ensures that the trees remain healthy for decades.

The competitors gathered at the holding area and were joined by a large number of members form the ACP, the Portuguese classic car club that had been an enormous help in securing authorisation and permits from the city to allow the cars to gather at the historic square Praca do Comercio. At 4.15 the cars were lead from the holding area by clerk of the course Peter Nedin flanked by police motorcycle outriders who stopped the traffic at all junctions and allowed the cars to go through all the red lights. Peter commented that the experience of being escorted by motorcycle outriders with lights flashing and sirens on whilst legally running red lights was something not to be forgotten – almost rivalling his trip up the Caramulo Hill in the Corvette of the FIVA Steward.

The cars were flagged across the line by Her Excellency Gill Gallard the British Ambassador to Portugal together with city councillor Mr Manuel Brito before the presentation of awards at the evening dinner by his Royal Highness the Duke of Braganza.

It was clear that everyone had experienced a fantastic week and were highly complementary about the route and the event as a whole. Many asked when the next event would take place.

 3rd 0f May 2013

Leg 7 / Ourense – Vila Real

Another bright and sunny morning and the promise that the bad weather of Wednesday would be the only wet day of the event. Friday would be the day that the crews crossed the border into Portugal and bulletins were issued to remind the crews that official rally time would remain on Spanish time until the close of the Main Control at Vidago.

A code board section followed by a regularity took the crews to the mountain pass known as the “doorway of man”. A crossing which was once permanently manned by Spanish and Portuguese customs officers and now very much a tourist site as it is on the edge of a Portuguese National Park.

A coffee halt had been planned on the Portuguese side of the border in the customs post which had been converted to a café. Unfortunately the advance crew discovered that the café seemed to have suffered the same fate of so many businesses and had closed. HERO tries to prepare for everything and so one of the logistic crew were despatched with a generator plus all the equipment and supplies to allow us to set up our own ‘pop up’ coffee halt. The mechanics also stationed themselves at that point and a party atmosphere soon developed. The National Guard who patrol the area were a little confused when they saw all the activity and decided to patrol further down the mountain.

From coffee the crews embarked on the second regularity of the day before the first of two kart circuit tests. The Braga Kart circuit was close to lunch at the Hotel do Elavador at Bom Jesus. This is an historic site and very popular with tourists. The hotel had laid on one of the most superb lunches of the event and several crews left wondering where to start. The unexpected arrival of the local police had Peter wondering what to expect for a short while but it quickly became apparent that like so many people, they just wanted to see the cars.

After lunch there was a third regularity and a test at the Vila Real Kart circuit. One of the best equipped circuits of its kind, complete with pit lane garages, control tower and both indoor and outdoor observation areas commanding views over the entire track. Everyone had coped with rally time remaining on Spanish time, although a few of the venues were probably a little confused by so many clocks all appearing to be one hour out of sync. A relatively short run to the overnight halt at Vidago Palace gave crews a “bonus” in that on booking in at this hotel which is (as the name implies) a magnificent historic building, they were able to put their clocks back an hour and enjoy a little longer than usual socialising with fellow competitors in the bar and restaurant.

The mechanics had been kept busy during the day with a few problems amongst competitor’s and official’s vehicles. The Porsche of Geoff Love and Craig Bithray had developed what had been thought to be a fuel pump failure, but this was quickly diagnosed as an electrical fault which was easy to fix. Graham Walker and Sean Toohey experienced problems which were found to be due to a cracked rotor arm. Although an easy fix this did lose them time. Another casualty of a relatively minor problem was car 15, the Healey of Chris White and Ken Woodham. A puncture caused them to pick up high road penalties. Tony and Judy Darwent discovered that the problem with their car was not so easily fixed and they were forced to retire when a “big end” bearing stated to knock. At the end of the day the lead remained unchanged but there were seven crews now on gold as a crew had put themselves back in contention.

 2nd of May 2013

Leg 6 / Leon – Ourense

Everyone awoke to a sunny and bright morning at Leon and the hope that the bad weather of the previous day would not re-occur. We were not to be disappointed.

The short run out from Leon took the crews to the first of two regularities before lunch. The field had settled down by now and crews had become accustomed to the format and style of the day. As on the previous day, the second regularity was not a Jogularity style normally experienced by competitors  on HERO event, but one requiring average speed tables.. On the Jogularity format competitors are given the time calculations’ at all landmarks to make it easier for them to work out their timing. Peter wanted to introduce novice crews to the concept of speed tables and also wanted a variety of navigation methods and so had planned that on days 5, 6, 7 & 8 there would be a regularity on which crews would have to do work with an average speed table. To assist the novice crews a table had been specifically prepared for each day and provided to them in a roadbook.

The little Austin 7 Ulster of Angus Forsyth & Marcus Atkinson was by now running well and although the crew were being careful to ensure there was not a repeat of the previous problems, there was a distinct feeling that car and crew would reach Lisbon on Sunday.

Both Rileys were also still running and although the crew of Michele Di Paolo & Igino Angelini were opting to avoid the twisty mountain roads, car number 3, the Riley Brooklands of Tomas de Vargas Machuca & Seren Whyte, was being put through as many sections as possible by the crew. The previous problems experienced with the fuel tank were not re-occurring.

After the two regularities the crews visited the Cabanas Kart circuit for one of the very popular kart tests. Access onto the circuit had changed which meant that the original test had to be redesigned. The advance crew of officials working two days ahead of the field had come up with an alternative plan and emailed it through to clerk of the course Peter Nedin. By the start of day six a new plan had been printed ready for the crews. The test was great fun as always and local TV turned up to film the crews around the circuit. A short run to lunch and the crews were provided with another superb buffet, with yet another venue surpassing themselves. A variety of Freshly made pastries had been baked as part of lunch and Peter collected a box for distribution to the marshals by the course closing car as a small gesture of thanks. The afternoon had the usual coffee halt and one more regularity before the crews arrived at the overnight stop at Parador De Santa Estevo. This stunning hotel in the mountains above Ourense is a converted monastery with views across the valley. The church attached to the complex is still in regular use and crews were able to visit to enjoy the wonderful interior.

The route had once again taken the crews through some of the most spectacular scenery Spain could offer and everyone arrived at the end of the day with huge smiles – even those who required the services of the on-event mechanics.

Michael and Simon Baker were still holding first place, with Chas and Guy close behind and Michael and Christophe still holding on to third place. Six crews were still holding on to their Gold Medal Status.

 1st of May 2013

Leg 5 / Burgos – Leon

Day five and half way through the event. Wednesday was the day of the Picos de Europa, some of the most stunning and spectacular scenery seen so far on the event.

A fortunate part of the planning process had brought everyone to Burgos on Labour Day – the 1st of May. This action meant that being a public holiday, the streets were clear of the usual heavy morning rush hour traffic and so the re-start from the city centre could not have gone smoother. The first regularity of the day was held under misty conditions but the sun soon burned off the mist and we thought that everyone would be in for a day of beautiful sunshine. How wrong we were, by the afternoon regularity the heavens had opened and the rain came beating down. Of course as is the way of these things – it stopped as soon as Peter (yes he does get out there to do a bit of marshalling) hit the freeze button as the last competitor came to a halt at his timing line.

The weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the crews as they tackled the Picos range – the mist and snow still heavy on the ground added to the atmosphere. A few of the cars did struggle a little. The rarefied atmosphere at a mile above sea level causing a few of the more highly tuned engines to drop in power, and the pre-war cars did find the going a little tough on occasion. The area abounds with wildlife and several storks were seen starting to rebuild nests, whilst one of the wild cats known to inhabit the Picos area ran across the road in front of Peter’s L200. The day was once again a mixture of fortunes for crews with Tomas de vargas Machuca rejoining having repaired the Riley whilst Martin Newerkla/Rudolf Entrich in the MGB Roadster and Phil & Laurette in the Morgan Plus 8 both having to retire with mechanical issues.

At the end of the day Michael and Simon Baker are still holding the lead, whilst Chas Colton and Guy Woodcock had taken the second spot, closely followed by Michael Gerber & Christophe Kung.

Six crews were still holding gold medals at the end of day five

The day ended at Leon in the Hotel Parador de Leon housed in a magnificent historical building.

The karting circuit tests are proving immensely popular with crews and spectators with a large crowd gathering  at Karting La Roca for the spectacle of a variety of classic cars being put through their paces.

 30th of April 2013

Leg 4 / Pau – Burgos

42 crews had started from Pau this morning in torrential rain with the worry that the rain would change into snow on the passes that took the event across the border into Spain. Contingency plans were put into effect but these proved not to be necessary as all roads across the border were open. The last of the Navigation Sections were to take the crews into Spain and the start of leg three of the event. From the main control at coffee, the 42 crews which had restarted at Pau were taken via a code board section to the first of two regularities of the day.

Peter had been delighted to see the little Austin of Angus Forsyth and Marcus Atkinson pull into the hotel car park soon after breakfast. Despite being wet and extremely tired, the crew were clearly happy to be back in the event. It seems their problems had not been totally solved by the replacement distributor. The charger had failed overnight and they had been forced to travel in the dark without lights. Deciding that it was no longer safe to continue the pair considered how they would manage to sleep when rounding a bend they saw a country hotel in front of them. Clearly a sign for the rest of the event. The Riley of Tomas de Vargas Machuca & Seren Whyte had hit a major problem when it was discovered that the fuel take-off pipe had detached itself from the tank. Tomas and Seren had elected to stay in Pau and find a mechanic capable of carrying out the repair. They both received spontaneous applause when they appeared at dinner in Burgos earlier in the evening – Tomas having decided that the only course of action was for them to carry out the repair themselves with help from a local garage.

The test at Miranda Kart proved immensely popular with several crews managing to beat or equal the bogey time.

The second regularity of the day resulted in changes on the leader board. When the crews sat down for dinner at the Hotel Palacio de la Merced there were more surprises when it was discovered that the Lotus of Graham Walker and Sean Toohey had suffered a major electrical fault before the crew arrived in Burgos. It took time to determine the fault which resulted in Graham and Sean going OTL at the end of the day – picking up large penalties in the process. Of the 42 that started from Pau this morning, the only retirement was the Mustang of Benno Britschgi & Michael Kraus with terminal clutch failure. Such was the enthusiasm of the crew that they immediately hired a car in order to stay with the event until Lisbon. At the end of the day Michael and Simon Baker had cemented their lead, with the Healey of Michael Gerber & Christophe Kung in second place, closely followed by Alan & Tina Beardshaw. Nine crews were still holding gold medals this evening, but with the event not having reached half way, there are still many opportunities for these to be lost. The Picos beckons and Wednesday is bound to have an affect on position.

29th of April 2013

Leg 3 / Poitiers – Pau

Crews awoke on Sunday morning to glorious sunshine with a cloudless sky – unfortunately this was not to last as heavy rain had set in by mid-afternoon.

Everyone had spent the first night in France in two separate hotels which meant that the restart control was located on the edge of Poitiers in a small garage found by the recce crew. It was clear to Peter when he did the detailed check that the garage was the perfect place to start. The owner spoke no English, but the classic car proudly displayed in the showroom meant that a common language existed and a check point was quickly established. There had been no retirements overnight and all the Sunday finishers restarted. The first section was intended to be a real test of both the navigator’s and driver’s skills and there was an early casualty when an uncharacteristic error on the part of Chas and Guy meant that time was dropped at a TP. Following sections included Navigation and code board legs and a delay on booking in by the crew of Warren and Tomlinson meant that they also dropped slightly down the leader board.

Lunch at the magnificent Chateau de Mirambeau was followed by a code board section to the afternoon coffee halt where scheduled time had to be extended due to unforeseen roadworks.Two tests in the Paddock of the Famous Paul Armagnac Circuit at Nogaro in wet conditions were enjoyed by all – Peter had been offered the circuit but had reluctantly declined on the basis that the HERO cheque book wasn’t large enough to cover the cost of circuit and safety crew fees – perhaps the next London Lisboa event could make such a visit. The crews all gathered at the Parc Beaumont alongside the famous Pau street circuit being readied for the Historic Grand Prix in May

At the end of the day, the order at the top had changed with the Porsche of Simon and Michael Baker now in the lead closely followed by theLotus Elan of Walker and Toohey, with Gerber and Kung in the Austin-Healey in third place. News was good concerning the little Austin as repairs will allow the car to rejoin the event on Tuesday. No such luck with car 47 when a failure of the Mustang’s clutch lead to its premature retirement. The crew deciding to hire another car and follow the event to Lisbon.

Early reports of snow in the Pyrennes indicate that Tuesday may be a much more difficult day.

28th of April 2013

Leg 2 / St. Malo – Poitiers

Car 50 failed to start due to the navigator being involved in a serious accident on his way to the airport to fly to the UK, Our thoughts are with him and we wish him a speedy recovery.

The navigator of car 3 fell ill just 16kms before the ferry at Portsmouth. For a while it looked like the crew would not cross the channel. However, intervention from a passing paramedic meant that they could although it took all night and most of the next day for him recover. The Austin Ulster 7, car 1 stopped on a road section after stripping the drive spindle of the distributer. Parts have been found and are being shipped overnight. They are planning to rejoin at Pau All the crews that started the event made it to France. Day three starts tomorrow – the longest of the event – 13 hours! The advanced crew travelling 48 hours ahead of the event have hit snow in the Pyrenees. Temp 2 degrees and more snow forecast over the next two day. Mmm interesting!

Sunday saw the crews on the 2013 event spread between two hotels and enjoying the good food, good company and good wine promised by the organisers after a day and half of serious competition. Don’t be mistaken into believing that the crews on the 2013 event are here just for the social side of things. That forms only a part of this epic adventure. Amongst the crews are a number of seriously competitive people who are fighting over seconds to show who is the supreme master of the sport.

By the end of day two the lead was being held by Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Lotus Elan, closely followed by Chas Colton/Guy Woodcock and Howard Warren/Paul Tomlinson. A few cars were starting to suffer with mechanical problems, including the Mercedes-Benz 300E of Branko Brkovitch and Richard Lambley which broke down at the final control to the day – just after they had booked in.  The little Austin of Angus Forsyth and Marcus Atkinson had suffered a major distributor failure. Angus arranged for a new part to be sent out from the UK and to be fitted on Monday so that the car could re-join the event.

Monday promises to bring even more adventures.

27th of April 2013

Leg 1 / Greenwich – Portsmouth

The event started from outside the Devonport Hotel in Greenwich when 41 Trial crews and 3 Tourers were flagged away by his Excellency Joao de Vallera, Portuguese Ambassador to the UK under a glorious sky – the weather holding long enough for all the cars to pass under the start arch. A large crowd of spectators had gathered to witness the spectacle of classic cars ranging from a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud to a Chevrolet Camaro. One crew missing from the start were the Dutch crew  Gert Paul Van’t Hoff & Arthur van Schayk entered at number 50 in a Porsche 912E. Gert Paul arrived at signing on to discover that his co-driver had been involved in a serious road accident on his way to the start and whilst he was in no way to blame had ended up in hospital with broken bones. Gert Paul asked for a full set of Road Books and the map book in order to show his co-driver what they had signed up for in the hope that it would aid his recovery.

The cars left on time and headed for the first regularity intended as a practice with penalties not counting towards overall results. From there the crews carried out two tests at Dunsfold the home of BBC’s Top Gear. Seven crews shared honours on these tests. From Dunsfold and a short coffee stop at the Cricketer’s Arms in Wisborough Green, the crews went on to the second regularity on the South Downs. At this point the Bentley Corniche of Marco Fila & Stephanie Gout de Montmeliano had unfortunately succumbed to an oil leak and had been taken to a specialist for repairs before arriving at the ferry.

Saturday evening saw all the crews arriving at the Brittany Ferry Terminal causing intense interest with passengers and crew alike. Dinner for all had been arranged in the restaurant and a party atmosphere developed. On arrival at St Malo on Sunday morning a 40 minute drive to Domaines Des Ormes for breakfast and a regularity test through the grounds of the estate caught out a number of experienced crews. The run through France was designed to include navigation sections, code board link sections and sections with undisclosed cheque points which although untimed carried severe penalties for being missed.


London - Lisbon Classic 2013 - Final Results

wdt_IDCar NoCrewCarO/AClass
1 51 Michael Baker / Simon Baker Porsche 911 SC 1
2 22 Chas Colton / Guy Woodcock Porsche 911 2.0 SWB 2
3 16 Michael Gerber / Christophe Kung Austin-Healey Mk l BT7 3
4 10 Roger Osborne / Barbara Osborne Porsche 356 A 4 1
5 17 Philip Haslam / Yvonne Haslam Jaguar XK 120 DHC 5 1
6 43 Richard Worts / Nicola Shackleton MG CGT 6 1
7 28 Alan Beardshaw / Tina Beardshaw Aston Martin DB 5 Vantage 7 1
8 26 Branko Brkovitch / Richard Lambley Mercedes-Benz 300 SE 8 2
9 42 Barry Weir / Roma Weir Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 9 2
10 19 David Roberts / Jo Roberts Jaguar XK 150 S DHC 10 2

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