Under the may sun and in front of hundreds of excited onlookers, 50 classic cars from around the world, assembled in the heart of Lisbon after a 2,386 mile journey that began in Greenwich, London, some 9 longs days before.
The cars began the rally a stone’s throw from the royal observatory and the home modern navigation, flagged away under the ceremonial arch by his excellency the Portuguese Ambassador, on the start of a 9 day epic adventure that would take them across the planes of western France, through blizzards in the Pyrennees and the picos de europa, to the rugged landscapes of the Portuguese/ Spanish boarders and the lush vineyards of the duro valley, before a final decent towards lisbon and a well-deserved rest. The hero London–Lisbon rally is an event that has attracted the finest classic cars and their owners from around the world over the five times it has run. with crews arriving from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and the Caribbean, there were high expectations for the organisers to deliver an event that encompassed not only the finest driving roads available, tough timing and navigational sections to overcome but also memorable hospitality. The smiles on the faces of all at the finish line showed these had been met and in many cases, exceeded. forming part of the hero Cup, crews competed not only for awards on this rally, but also for a place overall in the greater competition, 1st prize being a week’s charter on a classic yacht. The range of vehicles was diverse; with classes based on age and engine size, they ranged from the tiny yet mighty 750cc 1930 Austin 7 ulster, through to a majestic (and at all times exuberantly driven) 6200cc 1963 Rolls Royce silver Cloud iii. with Ferrari’s, Jaguars, Mercedes, several Porsche’s and a range of iconic english sports cars, there was something for every taste in classic car exotica, for the competitors and spectators alike. each day the crews were set off on a timed basis, with a detailed set of road books and maps to navigate from and timing points that they had to hit along the way. unlike modern stage rallying, the name of the game in “regularity” events is not speed, but accuracy. in order to stay on time, the crews must maintain predetermined average speeds across a variety of challenging roads, with the aim of arriving at the controls at an exact time. penalties are issued for early arrivals more than for late ones to discourage law breaking, although more than a few competitors were seen performing some spirited get-aways from various lunch and coffee stops having enjoyed the food and views enough to let the time slip by unnoticed!
With highlights including a closed-road sprint up the Caramulo hill climb followed by a memorable dinner laid on amongst the cars of the museo Caramulo, tests on a variety of circuits across france, spain and portugal, nights spent in a palaces and monasteries, the police escort through the busy streets of lisbon to the finishing arch and the welcome by her excellency the british Ambassador to portugal was the jewel in the event crown. A truly unforgettable adventure for all concerned, hero is already looking forward to the london-lisbon in 2 years time.
The historic endurance rally organisation has over 25 years’ experience in the organisation of the europe’s finest classic car events. The club’s premier membership program provides a range of services, benefits and discounts for all motoring enthusiasts – including reduced entry fees and car hire across all events. www.heroevents.eu
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases