Spain & Northern Portugal
The overall winners of Classic Marathon 2021 are:
1. Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan – Porsche 911
3. Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose – Jaguar E-Type
Often, the first thing that one notices when awaking in a new place is the bird song. The vernacular of the local fowl is full of idiosyncrasies that point to the fact that you have arrived in a new location, and whilst most of us couldn’t tell our Tits from our Carduelis, the colloquialisms of the resident warblers is plain as day to all but the most tunnel visioned of us. Bird song is also intrinsically linked to a new dawn and new beginnings, an experience all too rare in the past 18 months, when most of us have gotten used to the repeated impact of false dawns. But not today, as this fourth of July for a lucky few of us the the daybreak was greeted with the song of foreign birds for the first time in many months and, shortly thereafter, the morning chorus was split by the sound of rally cars competing in HERO-ERA’s first international event for nearly 500 days, The Classic Marathon.
Paul Crosby led the field away, in his trademark green Porsche 911, with Andy Pullan sat in the map seat. As winners of the previous Classic Marathon, they had the honour of passing the starters flag first, although the Spanish sun would not smile on them quite so favourably as the God’s had last time out in Greece. Before any sorting out could be done though, four regularities and two tests had to be navigated on a 335 km route that would see the train of 29 cars head south, away from Las Caldas, and finish in Ponferrada.
Trouble would hit the crew of car 3, the majestic Cadillac 314 Racer of Christian Mueller and Roger Vogel almost before the first regularity, with the Peking to Paris destined machine becoming lost in the Mountains south of Oviedo and leaving them with almost 100 minutes of penalty points by the end of day one. Still, far better to iron out the creases now, before tackling the 8500-mile adventure from Beijing next year.
It was a shame that they missed out on the sections of route that they did, as the mountains that stood sentry over the roads that would take crews into the Trubia Valley were almost as spectacular as the driving itself. The early stages largely set a theme for the day, as ranges were climbed and valleys descended into, with the regularities gradually gaining in difficulty.
Regularity four would provide one of the first of ‘traps’ set for competitors, a cheeky little deviation that took crews off road and up a steep incline to the first timing point and would catch out a number of crews, including the Bentley of Reto Mebes and Mike Cowburn. The deviation must also have upset the rhythm of Klaus Schaffrath and Andrew Duerden, as they clean missed the next turn after the timing point completely, the Alfa Romeo Giullia finishing the day in 18th.
At the summit of the leader board on day one was the returning, not to mention resplendent, Jaguar E-Type occupied by Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymm Rose. The instantly recognisable big cat is celebrating a special anniversary this year, but the way in which Marcus threw the car around the days final tests showed that the old girl is still a very nimble performer. The substantial crowd of spectators gathered at the Cabanas Raras Kart Circuit roared with appreciation, as they did when Malcolm Dunderdale threw his much newer Mercedes 190 around the bends a few minutes later, largely with the DTM bruiser rotating around the bends on three wheels. Despite the flamboyance, he and navigator Anita Wickens finished the day in the midfield overall, whilst the remaining top three places were occupied by Mark and Sue Godfrey in their baby blue MGB and HERO Cup and Golden Roamer winners Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan, in Paul’s Golf GTi, all separated by a meagre ten seconds.
Of course, anything can happen in rallying and the real shape of the leader board will become apparent as the week draws on, with the chasing pack headed up by current HERO Cup champion Jayne Wignall, sat nicely in fourth place just a few seconds adrift of the top three. The real result today though, was the resumption of international competition amongst the HERO-ERA community, and the smiles and fist pumps on display at the final control of todays proceedings were evidence of the satisfaction, relief and sheer joy experienced by everyone involved today, competitors and event staff alike. Onward to tomorrow, and the rallies arrival in Portugal!
The thing about blowing away the cobwebs, is that you’re never quite sure exactly what you will find underneath, and whilst day one of this rally may have carried that fresh out of school feeling, some competitors on day two were finding that the initial sensation of freedom may perhaps only have been skin deep, and that hiding under the gossamer coating were spiders waiting to bite.
The day began with cars 14 and 33 reneging from engaging in the days action, the pair of Alfa’s needing some TLC, with Marc Kingsley-Curry and Rob Simmonds in the 14-car taking their Italian machine all the way to Porto to sort fresh wheel bearings, the pair hope to be back at this evening’s rally HQ sometime in the early hours of the morning. Wheel bearings were featuring in Bill Cleyndert’s morning as well, “I hear your wheel bearings are knackered” said Paul Crosby, almost unable to hide the glint in his eyes, it’s all friendly of course, but karma is a fickle mistress, and the Porsche mans day ended in uncertainty with suspension problems of his own. Another Porsche in trouble early on was that of Stephen Owens, 7th on day one, day two began with a flat battery that spiked his clocks, giving navigator Nick Bloxham a headache, that he didn’t need.
As the day wore on, with ever more challenging regularities, so the problems for competitors machines became more complex as well. Sadly, at lunch it seemed the gods of fortune still weren’t smiling on Bill Cleyndert and Leigh Powley, as whilst the lashings of grease used to remedy the wheel bearings were holding working like a charm, a failed head gasket was threatening to end their rally early, particularly as the heat had burnt a hole in the cylinder head. “I’m gutted” said Leigh, “It was just starting to get really good”. However, a joint effort between crew and mechanics saw the head fixed, with the help of a local welder, and the Ford Model A Special will be back in action again tomorrow.
Mechanical problems aside, the competition had stepped up a level as the route had headed south across more mountain passes, advancing upon the Portuguese border through four regularities that traversed through the great variety of terrain afforded by the changing landscape. An extremely narrow in places regularity three slotted into a complex fourth regularity, that was matched in its length by the number of speed changes encountered by the crews, on a route that challenged not just the navigators but the drivers as well.
By lunch the chasing pack had been shaken up, with ground gained by Crosby, Walker and England and ground lost by Wignall, Britschgi and Owens, and their respective navigators. At the sharp end the event leaders, Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymm Rose had been overtaken by the lunch halt, with Mark and Sue Godfrey having 11 seconds in hand over the Jaguar E-Type, that itself seemed to be having some wheel bearing issues. Any potential mechanical gremlins didn’t halt the progress of the big cat though, as despite the loss of time in the morning by close of play Marcus and Matthew had regained top spot, and more besides, with a healthy 18 second gap over the challenging Godfrey’s. It was somewhat fitting that the days final regularity ended with the Jaguar chasing the MG B through the luscious vineyards of the Douro Valley, with the cacophony created by the multitude of cylinders echoing off the amphitheatre like slopes of this port producing region.
Of course, a rally cannot be won in a day, or even in two, and everyone will be aware there is still a long way to go. With a field crammed full of so much talent, the win could still be anyone’s, and if nothing else today serves as reminder that to finish first, first you must finish.
Today was also a day in which our own dear Bob Rutherford was in everyone’s thoughts, with Ian Canavan summing up the feelings of us all when, after being asked about his and Paul Bloxidge’s chances of success, he quickly quelled any talk of competition and simply said “We want to finish this rally for Bob.”
This event runs under the regulations of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA)
2021 Pre Event Vehicle Information
Types of Navigation for Red & Black Events
HERO Standard Regulations 2021
Classic Marathon 2021 Additional Supplementary Regulations
Classic Marathon 2021 - Entry List
Classic Marathon 2021 - Class List
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at Lunch Day One
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at Lunch Day One
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at end of Day One
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at end of Day One
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Test Penalties at end of Day One
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at Lunch Day Two
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at Lunch Day Two
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results End of Day Two
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties End of Day Two
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at Lunch Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at Lunch Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results End of Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties End of Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Test Penalties End of Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Rally Report Day Three
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at lunch Day Four
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at lunch Day Four
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at End of Day Four
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at End of Day Four
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at Lunch Day Five
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at Lunch Day Five
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Results at Lunch Day Six
Classic Marathon 2021 - Unofficial Penalties at Lunch Day Six
Classic Marathon 2021 - Overall Results at the Finish
Classic Marathon 2021 - Overall Penalties at the Finish