The 23rd Classic Marathon

26th June - 1st July 2011


The full results book is on the Downloads page.
There is a selection of 23rd Classic Marathon photographs >> HERE

Leg Six - AvilÚs to Oviedo

23rd Classic Marathon

Winners of the 23rd Classic Marathon
Mark and Sue Godfrey - MGB

A busy, if somewhat shorter day of competition in the network of steep mountain lanes in the hills around Oviedo before the finish in the elegant Asturian Capital.

Last year’s leaders Mark and Sue Godfrey were heading for a second victory but knew that it would only take a small car problem or navigational / driver error for that second victory opportunity to be lost. At the Day start Frank Fennell and Mark Appleton were 25 seconds behind and Howard and Matt Warren a further 5 seconds back.

The marshalling contingent had been further boosted by the retirement of Cliff England and Peter Rushforth so crews could expect multiple timing point regularities and secret checks – there must be no lapses in concentration today.

Getting the day’s competition underway was an interesting regularity that explored the lush farmland of the Corvera de Asturias region. The time of day and the proximity to the coastal towns did mean that there was some more traffic about than had been seen earlier in the week – i.e. virtually none!

Two crews managed get just two seconds total penalty across three timing points – The Sprite of Parson / Dickson and Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint of Byrne and Tullie, this good score helped the Sprite crew to another lowest on leg total but some car problems earlier in the week meant they had to settle for fourth overall – still a very good result from a reasonably priced car proving that crew skills still count for a lot.

23rd Classic Marathon

Graham Walker and Sean Toohey - Reliant Scimitar

The route then headed south via the town of Trubia, with its famous armaments factory, to a scenic regularity at Linares. This had a single timing point, nobody was clean but five crews got just one second, including the new pairing of Martin Shaw and Colin Francis in the very thirsty Austin Healey 3000, also with just the one second were the Reliant Scimitar’s of Prosser / Gibson and Walker / Toohey. It has been revealed that Graham had sold the Scimitar just before the event but then had to borrow it back as the Lotus he’d previously planned to use could not be prepared in time, this perhaps explains why Graham was driving somewhat gentler than on past events. Should the new owner be reading this Graham has asked us to confirm that all bits that fell off during the week have been put in the boot so they can be re-fixed at a later date.

Then, after passing through the spectacular Desfiladero del Teverga, we stopped for morning coffee at the charming Hotel La Posta del Camín Real with its unique rustic decor. The owners are obviously equestrian fanatics, with each of the hotel’s bedrooms themed around a famous horse.

Backtracking slightly from La Plaza, the next regularity climbed onto the Puertos de Marabiu where cows and horses grazed contentedly on the lush mountain pastures. Fennell and Appleton got an uncharacteristically high penalty on this, which contributed to their drop to third at the end of the event. Descending from these idyllic surroundings, we then followed the route of the Camín Real de la Mesa - an ancient Roman path linking Asturias and León - through some lovely traditional stone built villages.

There were some late changes to the route here as the planned lunch venue was unavailable so lunch was moved until after the next regularity section. This was a straightforward regularity in the roads around Bayu, two crews got one second on this, including Against All Odds Awards winners Celia Djivanovic and Rosie Hunt in the Jaguar E Type. After another excellent lunch at the El Sabil Restaurant all that remained was one last regularity but it had five timing points and therefore five opportunities to get penalties!

23rd Classic Marathon

Andrew and Sarah Mallagh - Porsche 914/6

This section, which could decide the shape of the final leaderboard, explored some narrow and steep lanes in the Morcín area before tackling the Alto del Angliru (1573m) - a legendary climb from the Vuelta a España cycle race, first introduced in 1999. This ascent is feared by even the fittest cyclists and once driven you can see why. Best on this mammoth section were Andrew and Sarah Mallagh and this helped them towards a Best on the Day award – something they’d just missed out on earlier in the week. They also won the Class for post 1968 cars.

From the summit of Angliru, complete with secret check, it was an easy run into the valley and on to the final MTC in the shady and tranquil Campo de San Francisco in the heart of Oviedo close to our Rally HQ, the fabulous Hotel de la Reconquista - where the party started in earnest.

Mark and Sue Godfrey had done enough to maintain their lead and become winners for the second year in a row – it’s the first time the same crew have won two years in a row. Fennell and Appleton were pipped for second place by Howard and Matt Warren, this pairing still awaiting their maiden win as a crew – both have won events when accompanied by others.

Top pre 62 crew were the new pairing of John Ball and David Taylor in the TR3, Tony Welsh and Anita Williams were delighted with their third place in the “twin cam” class.

Arthur Senior and Chris Sheridan were worthy winners of the Spirit of the Rally award – Arthur grinning from ear to ear as he chucked the Mini Cooper S around on the tests, completing the line up of special award winners were Chris and Sue Green who took the Concours d’Elegance award in their MGA Coupe.

The awards dinner was held in the magnificent Covadonga room at the Hotel de la Reconquista, it was a fitting end to a wonderful route shared with friends both new and old.

And the final tale from the Yellow Peril

And so, into the final day of competition. The crews in second and third place are only four seconds apart, and so lots of potential for change, while first are a little ahead and we are a little further behind in fourth. Today we would be climbing up into the hills from Aviles to Oviedo for our final halt. Several crews, including the leaders, failed to spot a tiny road junction on the way to the first regularity start of the day, and arrived in a mixed up order after realising their mistake.

23rd Classic Marathon

Paul and Roma Handley - MGB

The first regularity managed to fit 21 different speeds into as many kilometres, but as it was all on a jogularity section so quite simple to follow. There were fewer roads to use in this region, and therefore less reliance on the tripmeter to call junctions, but concentration needed to be kept, as timekeeping had to be spot on. We were on the ball and kept a clean sheet while the crews around us dropped a few seconds here and there, but probably not enough for us to trouble them. Second regularity of the day was a marked map with accompanying description, where we had to look out for a village “In’ sign for a speed change. Navigation was straightforward and we only dropped a single second at the single timing point, meaning that we were best coming into the morning coffee halt in the pretty little Hotel la Posta.

A short run brought us to a tulip regularity where we were watching out for signs to Tameza before branching off to a timing point up a short, sharp hill which ensured that we all dropped a second or two. The Warrens were running much better today having extracted a piece of rag from the jets on their Porsche’s carburettors last night. Though we heard that Howard almost caught himself out on his test drive, having forgotten how well his car usually runs, when it’s on 6 cylinders! The next regularity used a tiny, incredibly steep and tortuous, concrete road at one point, where we were only doing 28kph. It was extremely difficult to maintain such a slow speed on such a steep hill for many of the cars, and of course the timing point was at the top, where most of us were early. We next had a re-route as the original lunch halt had cancelled at the very last moment, so we were off to the penultimate regularity before lunch rather than after as planned. This was a short affair, and had a single timing point located just at a junction, where we were busy looking for a village ‘Out’ sign for a sped change, and almost didn’t notice Liz and George Mullins waiting there at the control.

We were back in Asturias now, and lunch was a traditional soup of white beans, chorizo sausage and black pudding, excellent with arroz con leche (rice pudding) to finish off and prepare us for the final regularity section. We wound our way over a ridge and into a valley before climbing up slightly to the start. We knew there was a hill climb in store for us from the route description and the temperatures were back into the upper 20’s, so we were all expecting a hot run for the cars. The initial sections and timing points were quite relaxed, even if trying to drive at 20kph on an old Smiths speedo is somewhat of an art. Then the climb proper began, and engines began to grumble as we climbed 21 and 23% gradients in baking heat. The Alto del Angliru is a popular Tour a Espana cycle race climb and it was easy to see why. As our temperature gauge cruised past the end of the dial and began thinking about going round again, I knew that we couldn’t go much further. Fortunately the final timing point appeared around the next 'melting tarmac’ hairpin. I parked the car to let the engine cool down and awaited the arrival of the final three cars on the road.

23rd Classic Marathon

Franco Lombardi and Claudia Malgrati - Porsche 911

The Warrens' Porsche and Frank and Mark’s Alfa both cruised off happily onto the summit, while the Godfrey’s MGB seemed about as hot as mine and the Elan that was parked up when we arrived. Eventually we continued to the summit, and it’s magnificent panoramic view, but no sign of the Godfreys. There was however a secret check and a 5 minute penalty for not visiting it. Still no sign as the first cars began to descend. Fortunately one of the descending cars caught them up, told them about the check and they soon appeared at the summit to collect the final control of the rally and keep their overall lead.

A short transit back down the mountain, with a local E-Type in convoy brought us to the ceremonial finish in the centre of Oviedo and then on to the marvellous Hotel de la Reconquista, apparently a favourite of King Juan Carlos of Spain, so who are we to argue. Time to celebrate with a drink and consider how we would have won IF only…

The gala dinner was in a huge hall with a soaring cupola where the Godfreys were confirmed as winners for the second year in a row, the Warrens were second, again, having nipped past Frank and Mark on the very last regularity of the event, while we were just out of the silverware in 4th. An excellent result for us, and proof enough that you just need to read the roadbook, very carefully and do what it says. A brilliant event, with some of the quietest roads I have ever driven on amidst stunning scenery, and some outstanding overnight and lunch halts along the way.

Well done to the team, and where were the rest of you?

Leg Five - Guitiriz to AvilÚs

23rd Classic Marathon

Allison Cotes and Peter Cotes - Lotus Elan S3

Today’s journey to Avilés was a shorter prospect but there was some challenging terrain ahead especially during the afternoon section when we crossed back into the Asturian Mountains.

Retracing our steps a little, we travelled west for the day’s first regularity – a cracking affair, which twisted and turned its way through the forests around the Monasterio de Monfero (yep, another monastery....) before making a dramatic descent into the Eume valley. Having a good start to the day were Parson / Dickson getting just six seconds across four timing points. This was followed by a fast cross country run through the somewhat unattractive mining town of As Pontes de Garcia Rodriguez into the hills to the north for the next regularity. On this two seconds seemed to be the target with both the Godfrey’s and Fennell / Appleton on this. The scenery in these hills is very reminiscent of Dartmoor, complete with wild horses roaming the barren moorland.

Our morning coffee stop was at a basic roadside café in Muras and preceded a scenic regularity through the Serra do Xistral. Howard and Matt Warren had woken up by this point and managed to be the only crew clean, the Godfrey’s and the Mallagh’s both had two seconds. More attractive countryside followed as we headed for a special test at the PTC Pastoriza driver training circuit.  We were able to run this test twice, on both times the best performance was Andrew and Sarah Mallagh, unusually Andrew was slower the second time around but he blamed this on the tyres going off! Newcomers Paul and Roma Handley decided that they’d take an alternative route in their MGB that was nearly a minute quicker, perhaps they thought that nobody would notice!

23rd Classic Marathon

Eamonn Byrne and Iain Tullie - Alfa Giulia Sprint

Leaving the circuit, the terrain became more challenging as we began the climb into the Asturian Mountains to lunch in the village of Taramundi. Taramundi is a popular tourist destination in the heart of the Valle del Turia - a verdant region of ancient oak forests dotted with small stoned hamlets and villages. The village is also well known throughout Spain for the manufacture of hunting knives and other traditional crafts.

Our lunch halt was in the Hotel Casa Petronila in the centre of the village. We were welcomed by the Mayor and all entrants were presented with brochures of the town.
Suitably fed and watered, we headed deeper into the mountains after lunch for an enjoyable afternoon’s rallying. The first regularity after Taramundi had been subject to amendment on the final route survey but the new route was equally challenging. Fennell and Appleton didn’t relax at lunch and got just three seconds on this single timing point, the majority of crews were into double figures which makes me think perhaps it was a bit tight.

From the end of this section at the Puerto de la Garganta, we joined a super ridge road that wended its way along the top of the coastal cordillera. Once again the weather was kind to us and the views were magnificent - with the coastline of the Costa Verde far below to one side and high mountain peaks stretching off into the distance on the other.
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Descending into the mighty Valle del Navia, the next regularity took us along a series of sinuous mountain roads through some unspoilt Alpine-like countryside. We were now in the land of the Vaqueros – one of Spain’s marginal peoples, who practice transhumance farming. There were occasional sightings of Palloza (a small hut with a conical thatched roof), these makeshift dwellings are used during the summer months while the cattle are grazing in the mountain pastures. Mark and Sue Godfrey probably didn’t have much time to admire the scenery as they were clean on all three timing points, Howard and Matt Warren and Andrew and Sarah Mallagh got just three seconds, at this point it looked very much as though they might be in line to get the wine for best performance of the day but there were two regularities left and these were to prove the downfall of Andrew and Sarah, though in any other circumstances the penalties would have seemed at worst average but with the standard at the top of the field every second counts….

23rd Classic Marathon

Tony Welsh and Anita Williams - Alfa Giulia Super

After a busy few hours of driving we reached the afternoon tea stop at Navelgas in the small but lively Café Bar Chile. More twisty roads followed as we completed the day’s action with a brace of regularities through the Sierra de Adrado and the Sierra de San Juan. We finally emerged from the hills at Pravia - a former capital of the Kingdom of Asturias, to join the coastal motorway for an easy run to the overnight halt at Avilés and the stylish ZEN Balegares Hotel. Barry and Roma Weir did really well in their Mercedes-Benz 280SL across these two regularities with a total penalty of just three seconds across four timing points.

Our overnight halt was Avilés and although its existence has only been documented since the early Middle Ages, it is thought to date back to Roman times, being named after a local Roman landowner, Abilius. While the town is now known as a centre of industry, Avilés is trying to regain its cultural heritage with events like the Interceltic Festival of Avilés (FIA). Taking place each July, this festival is dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations (like music, dancing, art and gastronomy) and draws visitors from as far as Brittany, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

We skirt around the bustling coastal town on the motorway as our overnight halt is at a newly constructed luxury hotel in an exclusive residential area overlooking the coast.

At the hotel we were greeted by a journalist and two photographers who spent an hour taking photos of the cars and crews and a full story on the event is planned in the local paper. Unfortunately they had left before the return of the truck with three people sitting in the back and the Austin Healey Sprite of Cliff England and Peter Rushforth in the enclosed back, following two head gasket changes they had decided to call it a day but as there was no room in the cab they’d spent the last two hours sitting in the car in the back, Cliff moaned that Peter had not stopped navigating and had been ticking off each junction and tunnel as they travelled along. With Ronnie’s record for loosing things along the way perhaps we should not blame Peter for wanting to know where he was.

Just a few other snippets that have been gleaned:

Tony and Dominic Barron tried to take out our Chief Marshal and Timekeeper as they failed to stop in the box on the test – surely they should realise that if there is one person who can most influence their overall standing it’s him – be more careful next time!

It’s Des Wood’s birthday

Something went wrong in the MGB GT of Denis and Penny Robson that led to Penny spending half the lunch period sitting in the car redoing her calculations.

Franco Lombardi and Claudia Malgrati have already been to Oviedo where we are supposed to finish but are now back with the event and Franco bought a pair of chequered flag “clown” shoes which I am assured he will wear on Friday evening, the Oviedo Porsche dealer said that as a special favour they would do the clutch change next week, Franco was not deterred and via contacts found an enthusiastic local garage who changed it within 24 hours so they could rejoin the event.

The Day 5 report from a very happy crew in the Yellow Peril

23rd Classic Marathon

Barry Weir and Roma Weir - Mercedes-Benz 280SL

Several competitors were looking a little worse for wear this morning, including Iain Tullie who was more than a little rushed at the start, having overslept until just after he was due to collect his route book for the day. We were straight into testing regularities on tiny roads in densely wooded countryside to start the day. Timing points were carefully placed after short, but tight flights of hairpin bends, to ensure that no one was clean.

Joe and Fred decided to make sure that the course car had put a NO board up one of the wrong slots, which didn’t do much for their morning total. Today’s wildlife spotting included more storks and a pine marten. The morning TC came after a brisk run over he hills, and there were lots of locals out to see and photograph the cars, with chance for them to sit in those that weren’t being worked on.

The local bar had laid on cakes and that traditional Spanish delicacy… spring rolls… which actually went down a treat. They had even made their own posters to advertise our arrival in town. England and Rushforth’s Sprite was having more attention – this time having burst a bypass hose, but Ronnie soon had it fixed. A self start regularity posed some problems with a not as map junction drawn from Google Earth, which was exactly as marked, but lead a few crews astray, including Gibson and Prosser, who had been biting at our heels this morning.

23rd Classic Marathon

Martin Shaw and Colin Francis - Austin Healey 3000

Next came the last two tests at a driver training centre. Here the team had made a combination course using the circuit and car parks to test us, and we got to do it twice. I managed to chuck the car around to finish just eight seconds behind the Mallagh’s rapid 914/6 to take the second, though Mark Godfrey also pipped me second time around. A run into lunch in a little café overlooking a wooded valley brought huge tureens of soup, steak and chips, classic rally fayre, and a rare appearance during the day of Jeremy and team, who are usually rushing off to prepare the evening halt. We were back into the hills and windmills again and the next regularity was quite straight forward bit with a nasty tight junction at the end to give most of us more penalties than we would like.

We soon met Cliff and Peter by the roadside again, who flagged me down after my spare head-gasket for their Sprite, I stopped ad dropped it off, but it was only to last 30km and they are now sadly retired from the competition. This afternoon’s scenery was quite reminiscent of parts of the UK, but with no traffic what-so-ever. However, the roads are very exposed, in that there are no fences and big drops, often covered in gravel and with no warning of bends, so the driver needs to keep very alert at all times. The next regularity was quite straightforward and we were pleased to clean it, but less impressed with ourselves when we found out that at least 3 other crews had done the same! The last regularities of the day came hot on the heels of the previous one and had a tight little not as map triangle as you approached the final control, I messed up my turn, as did many, while Fennell and Appleton glided in beautifully and clinched the best on the day prize at dinner tonight. We found a wrong slot on the way to the hotel and ended up with a 10km detour down the motorway for our troubles. Results showed little change at the top: Godfreys, Appleton and Fennell, followed by the Warrens, with us clinging on to 4th overall.

Tomorrow promises a great final day with it all to play for.

Leg Four - Santo Estevo (Ourense) to Guitiriz

23rd Classic Marathon

Arthur Senior and Chris Sheridan
Mini Coooper S

The Longest Day....

Many were reluctant to leave the the lavish surroundings of the Parador behind, there was many a plea of can’t we just stay here for another day! After an interesting road down into the Cañón do Sil en-route to Os Peares, where the valleys of the Rio Miño and Rio Sil meet we started the first regularity, which climbed its way up through some attractive countryside onto the plateau, north of Ourense. Keeping up their good form the Godfrey’s got just one second on this, also having a good start to the day were Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Reliant Scimitar Coupe as they only got two seconds.

We were now in the heart of Galicia - a region of rich farming land set amidst some wild and rugged landscapes not dissimilar to parts of western Ireland. The next regularity explored this area and finding the right way through at the right speed was a challenge for some, several crews missed it completely including the Jaguar E Type of Celia Djivanovic and Rosie Hunt, they don’t even have a trip meter so it is no wonder that some of the navigation is proving very tricky with multiple junctions close together. Unusually four crews were clean on this. After an easy cross-country run we got to the morning coffee stop at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Aciveiro. Built in 1135, this Cistercian monastery is now a luxury hotel and was a welcome break in the proceedings.

The next regularity started from right outside the monastery gates and explored an interesting network of country lanes around Murás before re emerging on the main road, north of Forcarei. Only one crew cleaned this, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super of Frank Fennell and Mark Appleton, this score consolidating their second overall position.

Continuing west, a nice drive along the valley of the Rio Umia, included  a short regularity just outside Caldas de Reis, bringing us to the Atlantic coast at Catoira. As crews crossed the long bridge here Viking-style long boats could be seen moored in the estuary. Howard and Matt Warren were the only crew to clean this one helping them in their bid to get to second place – at the end of Leg 4 they were just two seconds behind Fennell and Appleton.

23rd Classic Marathon

Tony Barron and Dominic Barron - Sunbeam Tiger

Turning inland, we began an interesting climb into the hills above Burés, which afforded some fine views over the Ria de Arousa and across to the Sierra de Barbanza. In local Celtic legend, it is written that the dove sent out from Noah’s ark found the olive branch in these hills while the Celts also believed that the ark itself came to rest on the holy mountain of Barbanza.

After completing a short regularty at Lesende we descended to the coast and crossed the medieval Ponte Nafonso to lunch at the Pazo do Tambre – an elegant Galician country villa nestling on the shores of a tranquil estuary. This fine building was constructed in 1898 by a noble Portuguese family. Many crews considered this to be one of the best rally lunches that they had experienced. Celebrating at the lunch were Warren / Warren and Jon Edward / Des Wood who both scored zero, Jon and Des looking to regain the form which gave them the lead at the end of Day 1

From lunch, an easy run along the coast through Serra de Outes and up into the hills preceded the start of the afternoon competition from a viewpoint on “Wind Turbine Hill”, where there were super views over a long stretch of the Galician coast. Having explored some lovely countryside on the regularity, we discover an almost alien landscape in the Bay of Ezaro, where the waters of the Rio Xallas tumble down massive granite boulders in a series of waterfalls. It looks as though some spent more time exploring than they should have with several crews getting maximums at the three timing points. From here we turned north and followed the coast to Cée, where we passed the road to Cabo Finisterra - the westernmost point of Spain.

The name Cabo Finisterra, like that of Finistère in France, derives from Finisterrae in Latin, which literally means "Land's End". Cabo Finisterra is the final destination for many pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, who having reached Santiago de Compostela, continue for a further 90-km to the Cabo. It has become a recent tradition for the pilgrims to burn their clothes or boots when they get there... One of our sweep crew also decided, well perhaps more by accident that he’d like a new wardrobe and having failed to properly secure the back of his truck he took off down the motorway only to stop at the toll booth and be told that the back of his truck was open – along the way his bag of clean clothes had been lost…. Not the smallest of men he was last seen asking around the hotel if anybody had any XXXL underwear going spare… It’s not daunted his dedication to duty and having dropped off one broken car he happily got back in the truck to go and fetch another, or was it to see if he could find his missing clothes!

23rd Classic Marathon

Klaus-Uwe Schaffrath & Terry Davies - Alfa Giulia

Rather than heading for “Land’s End”, we instead headed for the “Coast of Death” or the Costa da Morte.... so named because there have been so many shipwrecks along its treacherous rocky shore. The most infamous of these was in 2002, when the Prestige oil tanker ran aground. The resulting oil spill caused a major ecological disaster but thankfully this coastline has now been totally cleaned up so crews enjoyed attractive vistas of serene white beaches squeezed between rocky headlands as they made their through the next regularity. This regularity was to give current leaders Mark and Sue Godfrey a introduction to the infamous NO board, used on roads that crews might take accidentally but which the organisers don’t want somebody to go too far down. Judging by Mark and Sue’s reaction I think perhaps that today was the first time they’d seen one! Best on this with just two seconds were Fennell and Appleton. Parson and Dickson got three and this contributed to them getting the lowest penalty for the leg, they are now up into fourth overall but with a scant three second lead over the Scimitar of Prosser and Gibson – they had an off today which cost them a minute but it could have been a lot worse.

We continued to follow the Atlantic coast as we headed north to the afternoon tea halt in a small seaside café in the pleasant little town of Laxe. It is just north of here that we finally left the Atlantic behind as we turned inland on the final regularity of the day, which weaved its way through the forests in the Valle del Anllóns to the motorway at Carballo. A forest fire called for a last minute re route and Clerk of the Course Bob Rutherford gallantly stayed behind to redirect cars on the new route and Route Designer Anthony Preston even managed to put an arrow up on the motorway! Three crews were clean on this including Byrne and Tullie who having got over their head gasket problems were now having problems with their suspension. Allison and Peter Cotes are getting better each day and had a good result on this regularity, they are not often out on regularity events so take a couple of days to get back in the grove. Most nights Peter can be found working either under on within the car, he is a stickler for originality and still runs the Elan on traditional points, something many owners have stopped doing as the distributor is buried under the carbs which makes adjusting and changing the points a severe test.

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Chris Green and Sue Green - MGA

Skirting the urban sprawl of A Coruña, we concluded the day’s competition with a tests at the Circuito de Arteixo complex. We’d originally hoped to use the full circuit but emergency repair works meant that a last minute change of plans was necessary. Luckily Poppy Rally Clerk of the Course George Mullins was on hand and employed his best Spanglish to negotiate a new test. The test was to prove the downfall of Chas Colton / Guy Woodcock. They slid wide and that was the end of their event.

It was then a motorway run (looking out for Ronnie’s clothes) back to the HQ Hotel at the spa resort at Guitiriz, the resort dates back to 1908 and has had a chequered history. For instance, during the Civil War of the 1930s, the building served as a military hospital. The boom period for the resort came during the next decade (the 1940s) when it boasted over 300 rooms and was known far and wide for the quality of its medicinal waters. It was nicknamed the Galician Karlsbad, due its similarities to the famous German spa of Baden-Baden.

There was a grand buffet during which Simon Parson and Jess Dickson got the best of day award, with two days to go the leader board is far from decided and even small mistakes are likely to be heavily punished with several placings separated by just a few seconds.

It’s good to see the newcomers to the event like Paul and Roma Handley being welcomed into the fray and mixing with the more experienced crews. Their MGB seems to be trouble free and let’s hope that it remains so for two more days. It’s been good to see retired competitors staying with the event and offering to help marshal.

Chris and Sue Green haven’t been out for a couple of years but they are having a great time in the pretty MGA Coupe, they might not of had the best of days but Sue was still smiling as she clocked in at the end of the day, the stunning roads and scenery making up for any errors along the way.

Commentary on Day Four from inside the Yellow Peril

We left the monastery in bright sunlight and descended into a lovely wooded valley, on a seriously sinuous road. Several cars seemed to be running poorly at altitude, but the cooler air this morning seemed to have improved the performance of the Yellow Peril. We were soon into the wooded first regularity, on tiny, windy roads. No great potential for wrong slots but as ever, there was a need to keep a close eye on the trip meter. We were now heading generally towards the coast and there were considerably more people about on the roads. Not exactly busy, but more so than the deserted roads of the last few days.

The next regularity passed through a tiny village, and unfortunately the cows were being moved, just as we arrived. Several of us were  slowed, but just about everyone managed to get back on time before the control, so no harm done.  Following this we came upon the stranded Sprite of Rushforth and England, head gasket blown, but the simple nature of the A series engine meant that they would have it replaced and be back with us by lunchtime, and heading the ‘head-gasket’ category, just ahead of the Alfa of Eamonn and Iain.

Next we passed the girls in the E-Type, they have no accurate trip meter, so navigation is quite a test. They were complaining of noises and a burning smell, which turned out to be the alternator, but they are still running. A quick time control at another monastery, where the speciality appeared to be excellent cakes, brought us to a self-start regularity. Anthony had found a few short gravel road sections for us, and it was like driving on marbles. We had a close encounter with a ditch, but managed to heave it back onto the straight and narrow. We were now heading through country which looked like the Yorkshire Dales, but was full of eucalyptus trees.

23rd Classic Marathon

Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson - Reliant Scimitar

The regularities before lunch seemed to go fairly well for most crews, apart from the blue BMW of Hayes and Rooney, which won’t be competing again for a while…. Once again, Jeremy had found a fantastic lunch halt, beautiful gardens, an ornamental lake ad another gorgeous lunch at the Pazo de Tambre an elegant Galician country villa on the shores of an estuary. As crews enjoyed a pleasant spot on the lawn to attend to plotting, the sprinklers suddenly came on, which appeared to be aimed directly at the Godfreys, lucky they are both quick movers. From here we climbed up onto a ridge, with hundreds of wind turbines, before descending on a regularity to the Costa da Morte (ominous). It was blowing a gale down here, hence the turbines and there was a little more tourist traffic but, but not enough to cause a problem. The next two regularities had a serious affect on the leader board as almost all of the top crews took wrong slots. The trouble was a couple of right turns, very close to each other and requiring a cool head and an accurate tripmeter to make the right call. Prosser and Gibson took one and then landed in a ditch while reversing, but managed to recover unscathed to arrive at the next time control just within maximum lateness, and hence hold on to a top 5 position on the day.

The final regularity was cut short as forest fires were moving inland, and eucalyptus really burns well. A re-route brought us to a test at a gravel circuit. The surface was almost unmanageable and many drivers were fish-tailing and it was not a day for the Mallagh’s 914/6. For once, I was neat and posted FTD. Colton and Woodcock were not so lucky, and will be travelling home on the transporter, a great shame after such a good run through the week.  A motorway run brought us to our evening halt, and there were lots of cars with minor ailments. The hot weather has certainly found out any weaknesses in engines and cooling systems.

Our new sweep, Ronnie Griffin managed to leave the doors to his service van open and strew his and other’s luggage onto the motorway, the police found all of it… except his own bag, so he was presented with a pile of CES T-shirts at dinner, so that he had something to wear for the rest of the week! Results showed the Godfreys were holding on to the lead with Mark and Frank, and Howard and Matt biting at their heels. Just a little behind, was one small yellow car courtesy of our lowest total penalties for the day. 

Leg Three - Ponferrada to Santo Estevo (Ourense)

After two very hot days we woke at Ponferrada to a layer of heavy cloud that kept the temperatures at a more reasonable level, it remained dry through the day but there was fog on some of the morning sections which spoilt the views.

An excellent day of competition was to be had as we explored the wild and lonely Sierra del Caurel mountains in the morning and then spent the afternoon amid the spectacular surroundings of the Cañón do Sil.

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Frank Fennell & Mark Appleton - Alfa Giulia Super

Getting the action underway was a test around the Karting Cabañas Raras circuit, just to the north of Ponferrada. It was predictable that the Porsche’s would take the top slots with this time Andrew and Sarah Mallagh being two seconds quicker than Warren and Warren who were in turn just one second ahead of Colton and Woodcock.

We then headed west through the El Bierzo vineyards for the start of the first regularity at Corullón. Mark and Sue Godfrey kept up their winning ways with a total of seven seconds, not far behind were Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson in the Reliant Scimitar Coupe, the car was receiving attention in the car park at the end of the day but it was only the overdrive so unlikely to affect their performance too much. This section twisted its way through some attractive hills before we headed deeper into the Sierra del Caurel on the second regularity, with equal best performance on this were Warren / Warren, Eamonn Byrne / Iain Tullie, last night’s head gasket change seems to have solved their problems and Michael and Sebastian Haberl in another Porsche 911.

A super drive over the Alto do Couto (1310m) followed and took us to the small town of Seoane de Caurel, where we stopped for morning coffee in the traditional Bar Pombo.

Turning south from Seoane along the Valle del Lor, the next regularity took in some twisty lanes en-route to Quiroga in the Sil Valley. Three crews lost just two seconds on this section, Colton / Woodcock, Prosser / Gibson and Byrne / Tullie. We then crossed the Rio Sil to tackle some sinuous roads around Soutordei, this regularity was a bit of a Team CES benefit with both Warren / Warren and Colton / Woodcock on just two seconds. We emerged onto the plateau at Pobra de Trives before the short run to lunch at the Pazo San Lorenzo – a converted 18th Century nobleman’s country house.

After lunch, we headed east from San Lorenzo to Larouco for a scenic regularity that twisted its way back down into the Sil Valley. Some new names appear on the leaderboard for this regularity with Simon Parson and Jess Dickson being clean in the Yellow Peril Sprite.

Once onto the plateau near San Xoan de Rio, it was an easy run to the next regularity, which explored some interesting farm lanes around Condelle. Five crews cleaned this one including the Sprite of Cliff England and Peter Rushforth, this was yet another car that was in the intensive care bay at the end of the day with many opinions on what the options to fix may be but most seemed to revolve around what was the cheapest way to fix the problem... no more than that can be committed to print!

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Leg 3 Best on Day Winners - Howard & Matt Warren

A super regularity, tracing the route of a famous stage on the Rally Ourense followed the afternoon tea halt, it wended its way along the southern flanks of the spectacular Cañón do Sil. Best on this with two seconds apiece were Mark and Sue Godfrey and Parson / Dickson. Returning to the plateau at Parada do Sil, we took a well engineered road (strangely not marked on any maps) across the hills past the TV masts at Cabeza da Meda to the start of the final regularity at Pardeconde. This section, featuring more classic rally roads, passed through a landscape of weathered rocks, reminiscent of the Tors of Dartmoor. The regularity took its name from the ruined monastery of San Pedro de Rocas, located midway through the section, which is believed to be the oldest temple in Galicia. This was a very challenging regularity with the lowest penalty being 13 seconds, this achieved by the Godfreys and the Warrens. It is therefore perhaps no surprise to see that these two crews shared the honour of having the lowest total penalty for the day at 48 seconds, as Mark and Sue had already won the Best of Day award this time it went to Howard and Matt who collected their personalised bottles of wine from FIA Observer Juha Rostedt.

From the end of the section was a short run to our overnight halt at the Parador de Santo Estevo - a former Benedictine monastery in a spectacular location overlooking the Cañón do Sil. The monastery is thought to have been founded in the 6th or 7th Century and was declared a Historic and Artistic Monument in 1923. It was then converted into a Parador in 2006. The building comprises three cloisters each with a different architectural style - Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. An earlier finish tonight has enabled crews to take in some culture though many have confessed they don’t think they could have lived life as a monk.

I am not sure what the monks would have thought about the work that was taking place in the car park but it was good as usual to see all the sweeps and the CES team mucking in to keep as many cars going as possible. The marshalling contingent was boosted today by Richard Dresner and Colin MacKenzie who have proved very able recruits following their retirement from the event, Brian Cope and Shon Gosling are also out and about and I hear rumours that Richard Dix has joined the course car – seems like he enjoys being in a car three up!

At the end of this the third day of six the Godfreys are still at the top of the leaderboard but a steady performance by Frank Fennell and Mark Appleton have seen them move up into second, there is a real battle for third, fourth and fifth with these crews just one second apart.

For full results see the Results Page.

Commentary on Day Three from inside the Yellow Peril

A cloudy, but much more pleasant temperature to start the day today, meant no overheating problems. Then it was straight off to a kart circuit for the first and only test of the day where the Mallaghs were fastest in their 914/6.

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John Ball & David Taylor - Triumph TR3

It wasn’t long before we reached classic stage rallying territory in the Sierra del Caurel mountains. The first regularity was on tiny bumpy tarmac roads with a key slot onto gravel which caused crews to lose some time through hesitation. A short transit on equally twisty roads brought us to the second regularity of the day. With the only instruction being to follow signs to a village, careful observation was the order of the day. Following the regularity, we climbed into the mountains and the fog which made for slow progress to the time control.  A short run out brought us to the next self-start regularity. Unusually the final timing point was at the very end of the section with a 50/50 choice at the end, which one careless crew (us) missed. 

After the last regularity of the morning we crossed the dam of a very empty looking reservoir and then zig-zagged up the hillside traversing the supply pipes on our way to lunch. Here, for the first time, everyone was seen looking for spare long trousers and long sleeve jumpers instead of the usual sun cream and sun hats as it was pretty chilly. Another fantastic, if a little large, lunch in a converted manor house brought us to the end of a busy morning section of rallying. Good to see Eamonn nd Iain back on the road today after working late last night replacing the head gasket on the borrowed Alfa.

A short regularity after lunch with almost no junctions, still managed to test the accuracy of crews with carefully positioned timing points late into the regularity. Next, Anthony Preston gave us one of the new style of regularities where competitors receive both a marked map and route description. This one was pretty straightforward unless you hadn’t kept a very close eye on your trip meter, as often there were several choices of road to take. A short run to a very pleasant time control in San Xulian to compare notes and penalties, and we seemed to be having a better afternoon with no penalties up to this point. The penultimate regularity in the Canon do Sil involved a close eye for sign posts and accurate speed changes to achieve minimum penalty. The transit to the final regularity was disturbed by a road closure but the ever vigilant team had arranged a dusty, off road re-route.

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Celia Djivanovic and Rosie Hunt - Jaguar E-Type

The team had saved the best until last with a real tester to finish the day. Here accuracy to 10 metres was required to make all the junctions as particularly shown when having to take the three long sides of a triangle to find the first timing point. The majority of crews came in late. Small mistakes here meant that everybody’s trip readings were out and many crews arrived early at the next timing point. During this section we had the pleasure of the company of Jon Edward and Des Wood on at least three occasions as they explored the surrounding scenery. We managed to keep our heads and stay on route and didn’t pick up too many penalties on the toughest regularity of the event so far. A really brief and welcome transit brought us to the beautiful overnight halt in the Parador de Santo Estevo. This is a converted 6th Century monastery with fantastic views and has maintained much of its original splendour. The evening meal was the ultimate in fish suppers and satisfied the gourmets amongst the crews. Mark and Sue Godfrey maintained their spot at the top of the leader board and we crept up to 6th. 

Leg Two - Ribadesella to Ponferrada

Today was a day of contrasts, with a busy morning of competition on twisty roads in the Asturian Mountains followed by a more relaxed afternoon exploring the open rolling landscapes of the Meseta (semi-arid highland plains) as we made for Ponferrada.

It was action from the word go today with a self start regularity commencing just outside Ribadesella, which took in the classic rally roads of the famous Torre-Carmen special stage. Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Reliant Scimitar Coupe obviously don’t mind early mornings as they only got a one second penalty. Just after the end of this first regularity, we passed the Mirador del Fito where the views were spectacular.

23rd Classic Marathon

Leg Two leaders, Mark and Sue Godfrey - MGB

More famous rally terrain followed on the next regularity as we tackled some very twisty roads through the Eucalyptus-clad hills of the Libardón valley, Joe Reynolds and Fred Bent were the only crew to clean this regularity. The regularity was followed by the short, but demanding Karting Soto de Dueñas circuit for a quick test. Quickest on the test was the Porsche 914/6 of Andrew and Sarah Mallagh followed by Howard and Matt Warren in the 911. The first TC of the day in the circuit’s café.

Next up was an interesting regularity in the Sierra de la Frecha. This section was to prove the downfall of a couple of cars – the 1800 Landcrab of Tony Hughes / Richard Dix and Dave Hughes having a suspension problem, the Ford Cortina of Brian Cope and Shon Gosling also struggled and finally the Porsche 911 of popular Italian crew Franco Lombardi and Claudia Malgrati was seen at the side of the road. Faring better was the Alfa Romeo Giulia of Frank Fennell and Mark Appleton who cleaned the section which no doubt helped their climb up into third place on the leaderboard.

This was followed by a fine drive over the Collada Moandi (yes, another classic special stage...), which offered some fabulous mountains views right into the heart of the Picos d’Europa as you crested the summit.

More attractive mountain scenery followed on the final morning regularity over the Collada Llomena before the long climb over the high Cordillera Cantábrica to reach the lunch halt at the Hotel Presa in the picturesque lakeside town of Riaño. Best on this regularity were last year’s winners Mark and Sue Godfrey, they were clean here and during the whole day only got a 13 second penalty, this took them into the overall lead. This road section included a passage through the spectacular Desfiladero de los Beyos, which the Spanish engineers claim is the narrowest motorable gorge in Europe.

Leaving Riaño after lunch, the contrast in landscape from the morning section was quickly apparent as we took some fast and flowing roads across the semi-arid altiplano past Boñar. These vistas of dun-coloured plains, spotted with scrub vegetation and the occasional isolated settlement are ones that people more readily associate with Spain and were formed by the mass clearance of the native forests during the Reconquista.

23rd Classic Marathon

Joe Reynolds and Fred Bent - BMW 1600 Alpina

The first afternoon regularity saw us turning back north into the mountains to skirt the southern fringes of the Cordillera Cantábrica as we make for Villamanín and the first afternoon tea stop in a modern roadside restaurant. Celebrating at this tea halt were Warren / Warren, Charles Colton / Guy Woodcock, Reynolds / Bent and Parson / Dickson, all having cleaned the preceding regularity.

Another regularity through some wild upland countryside quickly followed before we turned south along the shores of the scenic Embalse de los Barrios de Luna. It is interesting to note that although the afternoon section felt less “mountainous” than the morning, nearly the whole afternoon route to Ponferrada was above an altitude of 1000m whereas before lunch we never got anywhere close to that... Good reason then to take another refreshment break in the small village of Riello before we tackled an interesting final regularity through the hills of the Las Omañas region.

The day was brought to a close with a nice drive across the lonely and windswept heights of the Montes de León to Brañuelas where we joined the motorway for the final run into Ponferrada, capital of the El Bierzo region.

Commentary on Day Two from inside the Yellow Peril

Woken by a huge thunderstorm in the night, with torrential rain and high winds, we were straight into a self-start descriptive regularity and climbing into the hills with just one timing point to get us into the swing of things. 

We were soon into a jogularity on greasy, muddy roads, with trees and branches on the road to avoid and cunningly placed checkpoints to ensure penalties all round.  A short transit took us to the only test of the day at a kart circuit. Porsches took the first two spots, then Lotus Cortina, Alfa Giulia Sprint and us. The three up Landcrab arrived last, went straight to the service crew and was later declared out, but I haven’t heard what the cause was yet.

At the start of the next regularity a dustbin lorry began lumbering up the narrow road about four cars in front of us, which is never a good sign. It held up the MGA crew of Chris and Sue Green, while the rest of us formed a line at the checkpoint as we squeezed past the, now parked up, lorry. This was the one and only checkpoint, but we were still following a map and description. In the next tiny village it was a 50:50 call of whether to go right of left, we plumped for left, followed a goat track to a dead end at a barn, quickly manoeuvred three cars around only to meet about eight coming towards us. Much fiddling around on a steep hill with one car with no starter motor, one with a dodgy clutch release bearing, another with a poor handbrake and it was a while before we all extricated ourselves. In so doing, the Italian team of Franco Lombardi and Claudia Malgrati fried the clutch in their 911 and looked unlikely to continue.

23rd Classic Marathon

Richard Dresner and Colin MacKenzie - TR3

Soon enough we were rolling on towards the final regularity of the morning which appeared confusing, but was actually quite straight forward. Many of us were a bit late by this point and had to press on along the deserted roads as they wound through impressive limestone scenery. By now the cool air of the morning was disappearing to be replaced by wall to wall sunshine and heat. Eventually we reached Riano for a fantastic lunch in the Hotel Presa, where no one touched the wine (they must have us down as a teetotal bunch). We noticed that Eamonn Byrne and Iain Tullie were missing and heard that their head gasket had blown and that they were limping to the overnight halt for repairs. This certainly dented the chances for our team entry from Ilkley and District Motor Club!

Another crew with the same fate were Dresner and Mackenzie, whose TR3 had serious gearbox issues, and they would be in a hire car by the evening halt. After lunch a deceptively simple set of instructions resulted in a lot of teams missing a single slot left. One or two managed to locate the NO board, however one team proceeded to write NO down as a codeboard, where another seemed to think it was a ‘No Fires’ sign and continued unhindered! The country was becoming higher and more barren. A quick run to a TC at a fuel station gave us time to regroup before another short and sharp regularity. The Godfreys were having a ridiculously neat day, and looked like being tonight’s leaders. The penultimate regularity of the day, had a timing point just through a short tunnel on a tight bend, which added a second or two to most crew’s times.  We were still in hilly country and plenty of grunt was required to keep to time on the final regularity. The three timing points seemed to come quite quickly, and when going at 35km/h after a village, it’s really easy to end up early, and we were.  It was now roasting, and the motorway run in was testing crews and cars before we turned into the cool of the hotel’s underground car park to await results.

 

Leg One - Santander to Ribadesella

23rd Classic Marathon

Leg One leaders, Jon Edward and Des Wood

60 competitors assembled in a busy Santander on a warm June day for the start of the 23rd Classic Marathon. Our HQ for the night was the sumptuous Hotel Real. We were sharing the hotel with a couple of society weddings whose guests also took a great deal of interest in the cars

Crews had arrived over a couple of days, some having driven, some being transported and the final batch arriving on the ferry from Portsmouth – Tony Welsh had delayed his journey in France to try and get his newly acquired Alfa Romeo Giulia Super running properly but it was still playing up, new sweep Ronnie Griffin rolled up his sleeves, had a look and made some adjustments to the carburation set up and the points and the performance of the car was transformed. Another Giulia Super crew are Klaus-Uwe-Schaffrath and Terry Davies, this car has been freshly rebuilt and I think the journey from Hamburg has been the running in period, all seems well though.

The start was not until 11:00 which helped those who had not arrived until late on Saturday night get settled and complete their measured distance checks. The start venue originally proposed had been taken over by political campaigners and although the Ayuntamiento de Santander had offered an alternative location it was decided that it would be best to do the start at the fabulous Hotel Real, all was looking good until the laundry van turned up and parked spoiling the backdrop for the start photos.

The event started with an easy run out on the motorway and then along the Valle del Miera to the first regularity, which twisted its way through the scenic Sierra de la Matanza.  Best on this regularity were Howard and Matt Warren, Porsche 911 and Joe Reynolds / Fred Bent, BMW 1600 Alpina, both crews getting a 4 second penalty.

Crews then headed west through pleasant farming country – apparently Cantabria has the highest density of cows in Europe - to the lunch halt at Las Caldas de Besaya. Along the way a series of traditional villages were passed where you could spot squat, hip roofed buildings of timber or stone that are set on pillars about 2.5 metres above the ground. These are called Hórreos and are grain stores, whose design dates back to Roman times.

Las Caldas de Besaya is the oldest spa complex in Cantabria (built in 1826), although the medicinal properties of the local hot springs have been recognised since Roman times. Sadly, these days, the resort is a shadow of its former self with most of the buildings, including the former “Gran Hotel”, in need of some therapy themselves....but this does did not apply to the lunch venue - Hospedería Las Caldas where crews sat down to lunch in somewhat cooler conditions than had been experienced, there are various tails circulating about how warm it was but general consensus is probably that the average temperature was around 34 degrees but in some cars internal temperatures were probably a lot higher – and not always to do with the weather! And it’s reckoned that it may be even warmer tomorrow.

However the heat was taking it’s toll and several cars were having problems with fuel vaporisation and cooling system issues. CES had planned on bring enough water for the week but at current rates of consumption the weeks supply will be gone by Tuesday.

After lunch a test at Karting La Roca had been planned but ongoing negotiations with the Planning Authorities meant that this was not possible so instead we were offered a closed road test in the Caranceja area. This test was full of drama and several cars had to be pushed back onto the road but there was no damage to any cars. As is usually the case the Porsches dominated the times but as Marathon results are based on performance relative to other cars in your class others were equally able to score well.

23rd Classic Marathon

Michael and Sebastian Haberl - Porsche 911

Continuing west with a nice run across the Puerto Collada de Carmona to Puentenansa we stopped for an early afternoon tea break in the Bar El Tramo. the owner is a keen rally fan and had invited his customers and friends to see the cars. Next up was a self-start regularity taking crews through the picturesque landscapes of the Lamasón region. Best on this were FIA contenders Michael and Sebastian Haberl in a Porsche 911 and Joe Reynolds / Fred Bent, both crews getting a zero. After crossing the Collado de Hoz crews got their first sight of the spectacular Picos de Europa. It is believed that the dramatic limestone peaks were so named as they were the first landfall that Spanish sailors saw on their way home from the Americas.

A regularity followed that looped north into the mountains pastures of the Peñamellera Alta region before the route rejoined the AS-114 and continued west towards Cangas de Onís - claimed to be the first capital of Christian Spain. Again two crews scored zero, Eamonn Byrne and Iain Tullie, another FIA Contender and showing the form that would give them the lead at the end of the day Jon Edward and Des Wood.

The final regularity of the day from Labra followed the route one of the most famous special stages in Spanish rallying. This has been a long-time favourite with the top drivers and competitors having experienced its many twists and turns can well will understand why....Best on this was Mark and Sue Godfrey in the MGB, Edward and Wood and Andrew and Sarah Mallagh in the Porsche 914/6, all scoring just one second in total across three timing points.

Finally emerging from the mountains at Nueva de Llanes, it was a short hop along the motorway to Ribadesella - an attractive little seaside town with a picture postcard mountain backdrop. Our hotel for the night, the Gran Hotel del Sella, is right on the beachfront and is a former summer palace of the Marquises of Argüelles.

Ribadesella is perhaps best known as the home of the famous Descenso Internacional del Sella (International Descent of the Sella). Every August, canoeists from all over the world gather to attempt the challenging 20-km course from Arriondas to Ribadesella in record time.

Jon Edward and Des Wood are leading at the end of Day 1 on 14 seconds with Eamonn Byrne and Iain Tullie on 17, Mark and Sue Godfrey are just a second behind, with Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock a further two back.

As this story was being written the car park at the Gran Hotel Ribadesella looked more akin to a rally service area with Ronnie, Andy and Rob all hard at work and the CES crew of Harry and Rob also proving that they are not afraid to muck in. It’s always good to see competitors helping each other out with late replacement driver Eamonn Byrne getting his hands dirty. Eamonn has stepped in to drive Dermot Carnegie’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint as Dermot is unwell at the moment – lying in second is a pretty stunning performance considering he never driven the car before the event and has not before driven a left hand drive car.

Commentary on Day One from inside the Yellow Peril

23rd Classic Marathon

A few problems for the Yellow Peril on Leg One

We assembled in the baking heat at the opulent Hotel Real in Santander for the start. Not too many car problems before the start, but some fettling of minor niggles. After a brief run up the motorway we were straight into a short but steep and winding descriptive regularity.

We started well and aced the first timing point, but then a slight misfire deteriorated into a spluttering, backfiring wreck. We crawled into the next timing point 2½ minutes late and hobbled onto lunch where we met Ronnie Griffin busy helping several cars that were struggling with the day temperature in the low 30’s.

I propped my bonnet open on long screws, but then worked out that the problem was one very hot fuel pump, so a bag of ice and a napkin later we had a make-shift cooling system in place and the car ran like a dream for the rest of the day.

Had to rush lunch a little, which was a shame as they had laid out a lovely spread for us all at the Las Caldas de Besaya, the oldest spa complex in Cantabria. After lunch we had a quickly arranged closed-road hill climb test, after a kart circuit had become unavailable at the last minute. The test was ordered by the father of a certain Mr Sordo, of WRC fame. The test was excellent, car 1 wasn’t so sure as it nose-dived into the undergrowth, but emerged, with the help of a few locals, remarkably unscathed. Andrew Mallagh managed to pull the gearstick off his 914/6 mid test, but luckily 2nd gear was fine for the rest of the test. 

The next regularity ended quickly as we climbed to some little villages in the edges of the Picos de Europa National Park, but a secret check then appeared later in the route to make sure that no one was cutting any of the route. The scenery was beautiful as we rolled through deep, limestone gorges, but baking hot.  The Senior/ Sheridan Mini had a problematical day by the side of the road, but they finally diagnosed a bad connection from the coil, so will hopefully be OK tomorrow. 

A quick time control and we were off to a self start regularity, this one had a tricky junction into a lay-by which many crews overshot, some by a considerable margin. The finally regularity was on beautiful, winding and deserted roads from the hills adown to the coast and we met Barry and Roma Weir at the end waiting for Klaus Uwe-Schaffrath  in his Alfa, who they knew would just about have run out of fuel again, as he forgot to fill up earlier in the day! Our hotel in Ribadesella is lovely again, and has an oddly, salty pool. Here we were treated to the manly figures of some of our most experienced competitors, notably Frank Fennell and Peter Rushforth, looking like the Health and Efficiency 1953 cover playboys!  The leaders after day one are Jon Edward and Des Wood closely followed by Eamonn Byrne and Iain Tullie in Dermot Carnegie’s Alfa,

For full results please see the Results section on the website.