The final day of the Paris Amsterdam Rally! Setting out from Spa and heading north through the forests of the Belgian Ardennes, crews tackled two regularity sections before crossing the Dutch border and pausing for coffee at the Café-Restaurant Aan de Meule, adjacent to a rather splendid windmill.
The caffeine injection was very useful on the next regularity, a tricky 7km drive through a characteristically lowland landscape criss-crossed by numerous minor roads and tracks that demanded the competitors’ full attention – one eye on the route instructions, another on the tripmeter, a third on the stopwatch and two more on the road and its weekend users, a full complement of walkers, horse riders and cyclists (this country has more bicycles than people). For safety’s sake, route designer and Clerk of the Course Fred Bent had been obliged to end this regularity at a mainline railway crossing, but the competitive torture resumed with another 9km regularity on on the far side of the tracks, and a good deal more coffee was consumed at the subsequent time control at Eetcafe de Stoep.
Having rallied across Europe for a week, we no longer have any novice crews as such, but anyone who hoped that Fred would now allow them an easy drive to lunch would be disappointed; even he admitted that the final regularity of the event might shake up the results, packing 80 instructions, 14 average speed changes and five timing points into 19km –a final sting in the tail that was appropriately called ‘Lage Heidi’ (pronounced ‘lager’, obviously).
After driving a further 40km through picturesque scenery the rally faced one last obstacle – a river crossing. Fortunately there is a small ferry service to the Eeterij De Pont, a restaurant surrounded on three sides by water, where crews finally crossed the official finish line before tucking into a lovely lunch.
Having then made their way to the delightful Villa Vennendal, set amid beautiful countryside to the east of Amsterdam, all 46 crews (we haven’t lost anyone!) could relax and celebrate their achievement before, during and doubtless long after tonight’s gala dinner and prizegiving (we’ll be adding more stories and photographs to this blog post as we get them).
Of course some competitors had first to drown a few regrets, having not quite achieved the result they were hoping and striving for. Rallying can be a testing sport, emotionally as well as mechanically – if it weren’t, it would hardly be worth the effort. But there’s always next time…
All agreed that the Paris Amsterdam Rally had been a wonderfully enjoyable adventure, not least thanks to the excellent company of friends old and new. Congratulations are due every single participant, from first to last, and especially the award winners listed below, most notably Vintage Category and Charles Jarrott Trophy winners Richard Dresner and Colin Mackenzie, Classic Category and Overall winners Steve and Julia Robertson and Spirit of the Rally Award winners John and Catherine Harrison and William Thomas-Davies and Christine Tacon. Well done, everyone!
Rally Round’s next period-dressed European event is the Paris-Biarritz Rally in September 2019 and we have a variety of other driving adventures on four continents, from Africa to the Himalayas (sorry – fully booked), South America, India, the Mediterranean, Japan and Mongolia.