A successful Winter Challenge…

A quick update…

James and Herman have completed the Winter Challenge from Troyes to Monte Carlo and have had a very successful week. They finished 9th overall and collected a 2nd in class award.

The rally left Troyes last Sunday and after an overnight halt at Chartres met up with the english starters at Le Mans and then onto Bourges. The first full day was in warm sunny spring conditions and not at all like a winter rally should be.

Tuesday was a long day of tricky navigation running into the evening, where fog made the route especially difficult as the headed to the overnight stop in Valence. Wednesday morning finally brought proper winter conditions with 8 inches of snow but again as the rally moved South it again became dry. The final day finished on the famous Col du Turini with snow again but the roads were cleared.

The event was won by the Dutch Crew of Jan Ebus and Jan Berkhof in their Porsche 356, James and Herman have come up against this very committed crew on several previous Winter Trials.

For a full report on the event see the official rally site  and James’ blog of the event

Here are a few of James’ Photos

IMG_4017Before the start in the medieval centre of Troyes

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IMG_4044Herman Mass and the Volvo 122S

IMG_4051James has previous of Overtaking the snow plough!

IMG_4056Traditional French Rally Roads

IMG_4066At last proper winter rally conditions, but still no need to use the snow chains

IMG_4068 IMG_4084 IMG_4085 IMG_4096IMG_4131 IMG_4147Herman and James celebrating in Monte Carlo

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Have a ‘rally’ good time…

Mario’s human (and chief medic!) James has set off to take part in the 2014 Winter Challenge which starts on Sunday from Troyes, South East of Paris and meanders it’s way through the mountainous areas of France to finish in Monte Carlo next Thursday having hopefully completed some of the most famous Cols in rallying history.

James is navigating for Dutchman Herman Mass in a 1967 Volvo 122S. They have been a successful team for a number of years taking part in various Winter Events. Previous years have seen them on the Winter Trial which takes place in January with routes all over Europe from Eastern Holland, through Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria and Italy, meaning they’ve often found themselves in very snowy and icy conditions. photo-5 photo-19 photo-22 photo-33 photo-34

It’s not looking like they are going to get such harsh winter conditions on this years Winter Challenge route through France and so James’ position as navigator will be much more important, one wrong slot could make all the difference on the road. James has spent the last couple of weeks busily plotting the route onto his maps, it looks like there will be some rather tricky navigational sections, hopefully they will do well – always a bit of a dilemma, I want them to succeed but you should see some of the trophies they bring home!

You can follow their progress on the official site or James will be writing his own blog – ‘Dickingaroundwitholdcars‘ – where possible.

James started off taking part in classic rallies more than 25 years ago initially as a driver, in an Austin A35, Mini, Hillman Minx and a pre-war Riley. Lots of fun and lots of adventures were to be had including breaking down in the Riley and being looked after by a family in a very remote part of France, apparently it was like a scene from ‘Ello, Ello’ when the poor husband came home to find two english ‘airmen’ in flying hats and goggles sitting in his kitchen!
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He progressed on to an Austin Westminster Police car with navigator Keith Webster in full period police uniform, which became very well known on the classic circuit or you could say notorious – especially for being given a tour of Aix le Bain police station by the local Chief of Police who thought they were real policeman, amazingly they didn’t get arrested although they had rather naughtily had their picture taken in the cells! Unfortunately after a number of years the well performing Westminster met a rather sticky end, embedded in a gatepost in very icy conditions, luckily James and Keith were both unhurt, other than their pride, although James will never be able to forget the words of advise – ‘Don’t overtake the snow plough!’old-scans176DSCN1587 DSCN1627

After success driving in the early days, once James started his restoration business he started being asked by clients to navigate for them and so he began a second ‘career’ on the maps, which he now prefers to driving. As his interest in vintage cars grew, he started navigating in pre-war open top beasts, generally during the winter, the more inclement the weather the better. Several Le Jogs were undertaken in various pre-war cars plus several more visits to the North on the Flying Scotsman._mg_0116 _mg_0270 _mg_0596 DSCN0306 DSCN0316 DSCN5423 DSCN5426

Now Mario has no intention of becoming a rally car in winter or summer but we have taken his ‘little brother’ Nippy the Subaru 360 on two microcar rallies across Europe. With James driving and Jane as a rather novice navigator we all had a big adventure but that’ll have to wait for the next blog…MM_0226