In just over a weeks’ time the starters flag will wave over the much-anticipated 17th edition of the Scottish Malts Endurance Rally. No doubt the 59 crews entered will be raring for the off, after the ever-popular HERO-ERA event was postponed by a year and had its traditional early summer date shifted to a late summer soiree under the Scottish sun. Whilst the event isn’t as difficult to master as some of HERO-ERA’s other rallies, the number of experienced entrants will ensure that the standard of competition is high, and anyone wishing to revel in the glory of a victorious dram will have to remain sharp across the 24 regularities and 11 tests that will be contested across five days of adventure in bonnie Scotland.
The east-coast will provide the playground for this edition of the distillery hopping Malts, beginning in the shadow of the Scottish seat of power, Edinburgh, which will also welcome the crews at the end of proceedings as well. Whilst the central lowlands is the most populous area of Scotland, it won’t be long before the cities and towns are just a memory and the roads are surrounded by purple heather and the mystical countryside for which Scotland is so famous.
The Grampian Mountains and Cairngorms national park will contain much of the competition, and a swift glance at the contours of the map book will tell you all that is needed to know about the types of terrain that will be tackled over the event. Heading as far north as Elgin and Inverness and as far east as Aberdeen, the city names that link parts of the route together may be well known, but the roads upon which the cars will travel will likely not. With 34 million less cars on the road in Scotland than in England, they will likely be traffic free roads as well. Chief route planner Nick Reeves had this to say on the subject, “Competitors can expect some incredible driving roads, not just on the regularities, but on the links between competitive sections as well. There are miles upon miles of just brilliant twisting and turning roads.”
HERO-ERA are pleased to point out that in the case of the MOD and similarly any negotiations with bodies such as Forestry and Land Scotland, that the company confirmed that all it’s activities for 2020 are carbon neutral as they will be from the end of 2021 and in the future. HERO-ERA are also happy to support a broad motoring and automotive based carbon credit certified offset programme, NET-HERO, that is to be launched shortly.
A treat for sure, but the Malts rally has always been about more than just the competition and the driving, there are of course the Distilleries that join the dots of the route together, and this year is no exception, with plenty of visits planned to engage with Scotland’s most famous export. It must be stressed however, that whilst the competition will be in high spirits, the spirits and competition will not be mixed. Nick, who is also Clerk of the Course again, “We have 14 different distilleries to visit, spread across the week, some are even hosting tests and allowing us to drive on their estate roads. Special mention must go to the Tamdhu, Glenfarclas and Tomintoul distilleries, that have been exceptionally helpful in the build up to the event.”
So, a vintage year is in the offing for the evergreen Malts, with tremendous roads and a superb array of distilleries playing host to an event that retains its popularity year on year. Add into the mix a fine selection of classic rally cars, including a strong contingent of Porsche’s, Alfa Romeos, and some vintage entries from marques such as Bentley and Lagonda, it promises to be a rally to remember. So, raise a wee dram and toast the beginning of a week of wonderful competition and tremendous driving, as Scotland beckons.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases