Spain & Northern Portugal
Following on from the success of the epic Greek odyssey in 2018, the 28th running of the Classic Marathon stays closer to home in 2020 – featuring a challenging new route in the mountains and coastal areas of Spain and Northern Portugal. Over six days, the 2000-km event will blend classic sections from previous editions with exciting new finds to provide a fabulous week of regularity rallying with the occasional test thrown in to add some extra Iberian flavour…
The 28th Classic Marathon will explore the fantastic traffic-free mountain roads and spectacular coastlines of Spain and Northern Portugal. This iconic classic car rally, which some consider to have started the whole classic rallying scene back in June 1988, has visited Spain on numerous occasions in the past, notably in 1995 and 1996 with the memorable Targa España editions. Keeping things fresh, however, the event will break new ground in exploring Northern Portugal.
Although it has evolved during its thirty year history, the ‘Marathon’ still holds endurance at its core – driving and navigating across some of Europe’s finest roads and mountain passes are the heart and soul of this event. However, the event does allow for a good social side as it is essentially a daylight event. Navigation will be in the form of easy to read tulip instructions or simple descriptive information. These will be supplemented by daily overview maps. The event caters both for those wanting to venture out onto their first long distance European event as well as the old hands wanting their biennial ‘Marathon’ fix.
The start and finish will be in the tranquil Las Caldas Spa Resort, situated close to the vibrant Asturian capital of Oviedo. This is located within easy access of the Northern Spanish ferry ports and a number of international airports as well as being a relaxed two-day drive down from Northern Europe.
The event has been designed so you can take the Friday Ferry from Portsmouth arriving late afternoon in Northern Spain on Saturday 7th, before the start. The Saturday ship back, on the 13th, will arrive in Portsmouth on the Sunday.
Not indepth, short event explanation day before
(up to 31st May then £6,039.00)
(up to 31st May then £6,710.00)
Limited availability in Rally HQ Hotels
Join as a HPM, which costs £145 per year and save on your Entry Fee
This event runs under the regulations of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA)
Saturday afternoon and early evening will see the initial Scrutineering and Documentation sessions for those crews arriving by road or flying in to the start. They will be joined later in the evening by those arriving on the overnight Portsmouth to Santander ferry.
After a second Scrutineering and Documentation session for the ferry arrivals, a mid-morning start is planned from Las Caldas and we will soon be heading into the Asturian Mountains with only local birds of prey soaring on the thermals for company as we tackle the first competitive action of the event en route to lunch in Corias.
In the afternoon, the roads become even more remote and rural as we tackle a series of regularities through the windswept Sierra de Ancares before arriving, in the late afternoon, at the former mining town of Ponferrada, now a popular watering hole on the Camino de Santiago.
Leaving Ponferrada, a longer day is in prospect as we take to the hills south of the Sil Valley. Featuring steep climbs and rustic villages that time has forgotten, this is what it must have been like to rally on the great ‘Alpine’ events of the 1950s and 1960s.
Late morning sees us cross into Portugal, where there is a noticeable change in landscape - the hills mellow and the development increases. Nevertheless, we have still sought out the roads less travelled to take us south via a pleasant lunch stop to reach the world famous Douro Valley. Close by is the historic city of Lamego, where we spend the night in a comfortable modern hotel offering fine views of the surrounding countryside.
We ease the pressure a little today and our main focus is a visit to the fabulous Museu do Caramulo - a popular highlight from our successful London Lisboa events. As well as lunch and a chance to view the extensive car collection, we are working hard to obtain permissions to tackle the nearby Carmulo Hillclimb.
Before we even get to Caramulo, we will have the excitement of the Portal do Inferno, with its vertiginous drops to contend with. Then, in the afternoon, we tackle classic mountain sections from Rally Portugal as we head towards the coast.
After the excitement of the day, we welcome the chance for some well-deserved ‘R&R’ in our lurxurious beachfront hotel in Espinho.
Once through the slightly built up hinterland of Porto, we take in two ‘interesting’ special tests before climbing back into the hills around Fafe. This is a name synonymous with rallying so that can only mean that we are now in the heart of classic Rally Portugal territory. The regularities will include some well surfaced gravel tracks as well as the sinuous tarmac to which we will now be well accustomed.
We stop for lunch close to the famous city of Braga, before turning north into the beautiful countryside of North West Portugal as we make for the Minho Valley and our return into Spain. One final regularity in the coastal hills remains before we descend into the sleepy coastal resort of Baiona. Our resting place for the night will be the town’s fabulous Parador, perched on a headland overlooking the wild Atlantic.
This is a ‘Marathon Day’ in true Classic Marathon spirit as we discover the rugged landscapes of Galicia, reminiscent of Ireland and promising some great rallying...
Leaving Baiona, we use the motorway to get some distance under our belts early on before heading out towards the spectacular coast via a network of rural lanes west of Santiago de Compostela. Navigators will earn their keep today, while drivers will be kept on their toes with a range of driving challenges.
After lunch on the coast, we continue north to bypass the busy coastal city of A Coruña and climb into the barren Galician Cordillera for the final sections of the day, which will take us almost to the doorstep of our overnight hotel, situated right on the water’s edge in the quiet fishing town of Viveiro.
Heading inland from Viveiro, the final morning sees us tackling a series of testing regularities through the surprisingly hilly terrain of Northern Galicia. Then, once across the impressive Valle del Navia, we are back in the attractive Asturian Mountains, where the network of steep mountain lanes should provide a fitting finale and might just shake-up the leaderboard before we arrive at the grand finish, back in Las Caldas.
After another unforgettable week of 'Marathon Motoring', there will no doubt be many memories to be shared over a celebratory drink before the evening’s gala Prizegiving Dinner rounds the event off in style.