Alastair's Blog

2nd win for 2nd Paris-Madrid Rally 2014

Alastair Caldwell - Friday, August 01, 2014

And we're off for a second year aiming for a second win!

Starting the 2nd Paris to Madrid Rally in May with my novice but trusted American navigator, Laurel Smith, in my 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C SS Torpedino, we felt mildly confident having won the inaugural event last year. But of course we also knew that there was another strong field of competitors ready to take that crown from us. But never being one to look for anything other than first place we took off at speed (skip to 1m 18s of the H&H Classics Rally Round video on the left) to see us zooming away!)

The rally ran over four days in May and had an amazing field of veteran, vintage and pre-war machines and their equally competitive and combative drivers and navigators - oh what fun was in store for us over the next few says. The rally took us on a beautiful and evocative route through France and Spain to compete for the prestigious Charles Jarrott Trophy (more of that lower down!!). 

After a flying start the first day was cold and wet but the car ran well and Laurel did a good navigating job under enormous pressure. No results at the end of the day because in the awful weather conditions just finding our way was hard enough - being on time was an added bonus! Coping with the adverse elements in an open car with no weather protection (apart from a sense of humour!) was 'interesting'. We did however have a rare break in the weather when we stopped for lunch and the sun broke through - someone up there took pity on us and let us relax a bit while we were taking on board sustenance. 

On the second day we managed to get a lead going but we managed to damage all four rims at once in a tiny French village where the road got just too narrow for the wide bodied Alfa! The road was wide enough for the body but the wheels were just too much for it. One of the trick pressure sensing tyre valves got ripped off it was that tight. Never thought I'd use the phrase "My what big rims you've got"!! But then you'd expect nothing less from me...

We were still leading the rally after two days as we moved into day three. The car is running well and Laurel is doing a great job navigating, not only having to cope with actually finding the route and the tricky timing but also having to contend with some more horrendous weather (again!).

The car has no weather protection (thanks to Retrospeed Magazine for catching us at a dry point!) at all and at times today we were just swimming inside the car, bad for us and not good for the car either. The Italian name for a car like this is Barchetta which means little boat and it has been!

At the end of the day we stayed in a Pamplona Hotel and as we listened to thunderstorms and the rain lashing down it looked and sounded like the final day was going to be no better weather-wise, but at least we were learning how to cope in our mobile swimming pool.... 

Sadly there are no tests this year because of insurance limitations so rally is not as competitive as last year but at least the road book is working really well (last year there were a few problems which saw some cars going in every direction for the whole rally!) We retired that evening hoping that the storms would wear themselves out during the night and fingers crossed for some glorious Spanish sun to end the rally.


At the end - the final day

Last day turned out to be pretty easy - if you went the right way which lots didn't! Laurel very pleased with herself (as she should have been) as we didn't take one wrong turning. And we did it again, winning in style for a second year running.

And back to that trophy...

The marvellous Charles Jarrott Trophy was presented to us and in my own shy and unassuming way I felt it was time to get a little excited about winning the trophy for a second year!!

What do you think - style icon or slightly over exuberant? Moi?





 

              


Photo courtesy of H&H Classic Rallies: hhclassicrallies.com

 


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