Welcome to France and the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace in Versailles, our starting point for Rally Round’s Paris Biarritz Rally 2019.
Over the next six days, our crews will journey 1,880kms and compete across 30 special tests and regularities to see who will lift the silverware and be crowned the winners.
But before our competitors cross the start line of this great driving adventure, there’s just a few formalities to go through first.
Our mechanics Richard Last and Gary Oliver presided over scrutineering with the cars ranging from our oldest car – a 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost to a 1971 Maserati Indy 4200.
David Ellison and Karim De Mynn had already seen how roadworthy some of the cars were as they had led a convoy of cars from the Goodwood Revival in the UK. They were bringing Steve and Ruth Lambert into Paris with the Ford Model A but sadly the scorching September proved too much for it and it arrived on the end of a tow rope.
Not wanting to risk the car going forward, it was Rally Preparation Services who stepped in as ‘international rescue’, bringing an MGB across from the UK overnight so Steve and Ruth can start the rally in the morning.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for those who has got to Versailles either. The brake light switch on Mike and Toby Chilman’s 1964 Austin Healey 3000 MkIII decided it was going to stop working. A new part has been ordered to make sure they are all present and correct as soon as possible.
David and Natasha Royd’s 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was having trouble as the Monit probe was fouling on its suspension. Richard and Gary fabricated a fitting to make this stop and ensure a true reading.
The beautiful Triumph TR3A of David and Dawn Hayes certainly left its mark on the hotel as it had an oil leak due to overfilling, causing puddles on the forecourt and in the garage. However, it was the wiring loom that proved the major issue and the sweeps fabricated their own version to make sure he’s ready to go under the start arch.
Once the scrutineering had been completed, crews had to sign on in Rally HQ where Rally Director Liz Wenman was aided by sandy Riddle and Chris Newman handed out the route books.
The navigators in our midst scurried into dark corners to study what they will have to face over the coming week while most of the drivers headed for the bar.
After Route Designer Fred Bent and Clerk of the Course Kim Bannister lead the Competitor briefing, it was time to sit down and get to know one another better.
Tonight’s welcome dinner was held in the Clemeneceau Suite, the very room where the armistice treaty was signed 100 years ago in 1919.
Let’s hope there won’t be any warring parties by this time tomorrow night after the first day on the road.
The first car leaves the stunning hotel gates at 07:30am on Tuesday 17th September.