The start at Brooklands on Thursday was historic as the oldest car in the event, a 1917 LaFrance lead away off the line. John and Catherine Harrison did in fact just catch up with the rally at the Day 2 halt in Futuroscope, France after a delay.
The regularities in the UK around the quiet roads of Sussex and Hampshire were superb, as was the visit to William Medcalf Bentley on the way down to Portsmouth for a Time Control, where William conveniently left the 2022 Flying Scotsman winning Super Sport Bentley on display, whilst crews could also walk though the busy workshops crammed with vintage Bentleys.
Anna Wilkinson, Executive Assistant to William Medcalf who welcomed the London Lisbon crews to William Medcalf Bentley; “ It’s been brilliant, it was great to welcome everyone on Thursday and for them to run with lovely weather for their first day of competition. It was really great to see everyone and show many of the crews around, particularly the workshop.
“As far as HERO-ERA is concerned, we had on display the Bentley that just won the Flying Scotsman, in fact it was William’s third Flying Scotsman victory.
“This is the Bentley Super Sports continuation that we’ve got here on display. The team of 30 here, of whom we are all really proud, have worked very hard on this car which was then delivered to its customer on time directly after the rally!
“Our customer base is global, we distribute to over 1000 Vintage Bentley owners across the course of the year. In the workshop, we invest 15,000 hours into vintage Bentley’s across the year and we’ve got a great customer base. We live and breathe Bentley, the team are very passionate and we are lucky, we’ve got a great, great team.”
The ferry crossing to St Malo was calm and the service on board smooth as 43 cars disembarked and sailed through customs and immigration. The crews then enjoyed a well earned evening meal after a great day’s rallying under blue French skies, taking on five regularities and one test at the end of the day.
Sarah and Ken Binstead lead in their Austin Healey 3000 but just four seconds behind are father and son Dick and Harry Baines in their Mini Cooper S. Favourites Stephen Owens and Pete Johnson were third half way through the day, but had plummeted to 9th by the close. Sally and Nigel Woof remain fourth in their Alfa Romeo but have been kept off the podium by the mathematician from Monte Carlo, Graham Platts and his navigator Neil Ripley in their Austin Healey 100M, by just one second! David Coxon and Peter Hawkins are doing a great job in their rip snorting Austin Healey in fifth, in fact it is mostly British cars to the fore in France!
London Lisbon Clerk of the Course and HERO-ERA Competition Director, Guy Woodcock summed up the journey so far;
“ We had a great day yesterday in the south east of England. The level of traffic was pretty low but the weather was beautiful. Coming to Northern France, sometimes it’s a bit grey, but the weather here is unbelievable and the roads are so quiet. Getting off the boat was way smoother than we anticipated, so today we were running ahead of time, which meant that it was not quite such a long day. Yes, the LaFrance encountered a few difficulties, but it is great that they have been able to catch up and will start Day 3.
“What’s in store over the next couple of days, well, we’re heading south, it’s been a pretty linear route today and will be tomorrow through France. Then we start on Sunday to really climb, heading up into the hills and over into Andorra at some 2400 metres, the end of which will be quite interesting. We may see snow up there but hopefully not on the road!
“It’s early days in the competition, but we are starting to see five or six crews emerging who, we thought we’d see battling it out, but then there is the Mini Cooper S of Dick and Harry in second which is a pleasant surprise. However, it’s been a long day and there is a long way to go. So I think it’ll be the crews who have the luck as we go through the event that will be at the top at the finish in Lisbon.”
Ken and Sarah Binstead, 1960 Austin Healey 3000 Mk 1
Ken, “It’s a case of so far so good. We had a good day yesterday, so we were very happy and the big plan was this morning to keep it going but steady as she goes. We’re pleased to be leading but it’s still very early days.
“The car is alright. We haven’t really done a lot of rallying in it, I just did the HERO Challenge earlier in the year to really shake it down. It’s a different beast, we normally rally the MGB, so this is a bit of a different car, especially at speeds of about 20 miles an hour, it just doesn’t want to do that! It’s running well at the moment but it gets hot in there, hence the shorts!
“Finishing is the goal to be honest. I’m especially looking forward to getting into the mountains, we’ve not done anything like that before so we are really looking forward to get up into that area.”
“We have already bottomed out quite a few times already, it’s because it’s not a rally spec car. It’s just got a normal exhaust which only gives me about four inches of ground clearance. So the sleeping policeman in some of the French villages can be quite entertaining, you have to take things a bit easy!”
Dick and Harry Bianes, 1965 Mini Cooper S
Harry,“ Yes second position, it’s good! We had a good day yesterday. This is our first international event, the first time for me navigating on the French roads, it’s good to be here but we’ve just got to try and keep it up. I’m not sure what we’ll do, but hopefully we’ll have a good go anyway!”
“Yes you do have to take into consideration that we have the smallest, engine on the rally, but no problem, we will have a go at beating those Mustangs!”
Graham Platts and Neil Ripley, 1956 Austin Healey 100M
Graham, “It’s a circuitous route for me because I’ve come a long way and now here I am, back again!
“I live in the south of France, so I drove 950 miles through France to get to Brooklands in Surrey, UK, I spent a day in England so I could catch the ferry back to France. So here I am, back where I started. But it has all been worth it, yes, fantastic. We’re having a good rally. We started the rally with three zeros on regularities which we’ve never done before. And we’re doing alright, we are up there at the moment in the mix.”
One of the traditional things Graham always does is clean off his car at any opportunity, he just has to keep his car clean. “Absolutely. Because I believe it goes better when it’s clean. A happy car is a faster car!
“Neil is doing good work with the navigation, but you know we haven’t done a rally for a few years so we’re a bit rusty. Neil is doing well and we’re doing okay, so far!”
Sally and Nigel Woof, 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint
Sally,” Oh actually it was a fantastic voyage, having heard about the rough crossings from Portsmouth in previous years, I mean, I slept like a baby last night. The food was very good and it was a good crossing and then a smooth customs operation in France.” Nigel, “ We have been doing OK, yesterday was good and last night we were in the mix and again today, so we’ve only got one direction to go in now, and that’s down now!”
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