Stunning SS Jaguar pounces to take Vintage Shamrock Rally spoils

Stunning SS Jaguar pounces to take Vintage Shamrock Rally spoils

Much-loved Irish escapade delivers epic competition and camaraderie 
Full-capacity entry studded with pre-war automotive icons 
Highly-praised new route explores the ancient kingdom of Connacht 
Continental ‘Carrera’ and ‘Challenge’ events next on calendar

 
The fifth running of the much-loved Vintage Shamrock was another huge success. After four memorable days and more than 500 miles of driving adventures through the enchantingly verdant Irish countryside, victory went to the stunning 1937 Jaguar SS100 crewed by Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham – in reality, however, all those participating were the big winners! 


 
It was the second time that Rally the Globe had teamed up with event founders Irish Racing Green to deliver the Vintage Shamrock and, as in 2023, the Emerald Isle escapade received enthusiastic support from expert insurers Chubb and Barrett Private Insurances alongside RM Sotheby’s.


 
This year’s carefully planned route once again featured great roads, great scenery and some cracking hospitality as it ventured further north than ever before, crossing the midlands and exploring the ancient kingdom of Connacht’s mountains and Atlantic coast. 


 
The wondrous journey began just outside Dublin in the grounds of the Johnstown Estate where a full capacity entry of 60 pre-war machines and their excited crews assembled for pre-start scrutineering and paperwork. The oldest car lining up was a 1924 Vauxhall 30-98 while all the great vintage marques such as Alvis, Bentley, Frazer Nash, Lagonda, MG, Riley and Talbot were well represented. 


 
After the first afternoon’s action which included Regularity sections in the tree-lined lanes of County Meath plus more vibrant Speed Tests at Athboy Karting Centre and the Swainstown Estate, it was the 1925 Bentley 3/4½ of Clint and Dawn Smith which led the Overall Classification from the 1937 Jaguar shared by Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham and 1940 Ford Coupe of Manuel and Irene Dubs from Switzerland in a close third place.


 
Day two was the rally’s longest and busiest day with four Tests and four Regularities spicing up a 182-mile route via lunch at Strokestown to the historic town of Westport on Ireland’s west coast in County Mayo. Highlights included two swift laps of the Midland Karting circuit and lots of even more sideways driving on the slippery surfaces of Corcoran’s Quarry en route to the award-winning Knockranny House Hotel, with its spectacular views overlooking the Atlantic, where crews would be based for the remaining three nights.


 
As the dust settled the pacesetting Bentley and Jaguar were still to the fore with the locally entered 1937 Riley 12/4 of Shane Houlihan and Richard Pain now upholding Irish honour in third. 


 
Four more Regularities and three Tests – expertly punctuated with Time Controls and refreshment stops – kept crews fully engaged on day three along an amazing 165-mile scenic route which really had it all from steep barren mountain roads and Neolithic landmarks to unmade tracks on several private estates. 


 
It was not a day, however, best suited for the big Bentleys and, though still class leaders, the hitherto frontrunners slipped down to fourth in the overall rankings. In its place the Jaguar moved to the top of the classification with the recent Generations Rally winning 1938 Triumph Dolomite of Andrew and Philippa Bailey now up to second place ahead of the Riley which remained in third.    


 
The final day saw crews heading out along the Wild Atlantic Way and the stunning sea and landscapes of Connemara. With a couple of Tests on loose surfaces plus Regularities alongside Loughs and on traffic-free mountain and coastal roads, it was a fitting finale to what had been another truly outstanding Vintage Shamrock.


 
Despite the driving and navigational challenges – not to mention the distractions of the awe-inspiring scenery – the top of the leader-board remained unchanged with Jaguar, Triumph and Riley crews on the finishing podium. The biggest movers on day four were Graham and Marina Goodwin who rose to sixth overall thus taking top honours among the Bentley battalions with the erstwhile leading Smiths slipping back further to finish tenth.


 
Though no strangers to success, the victors were understandably thrilled, singling the 2024 Vintage Shamrock as one of their best experiences. “Rally the Globe is a young company, but they’re very professional,” enthused Owens. “The rally was well prepared, well organised and the route was both enjoyable and challenging. It certainly tested both us and the car but it never became unmanageable.” 


 
“It has been a great couple of days and a very competitive event which kept us on our toes,” confirmed Bloxham.
 
As well as the well-deserved class winners, two other discretionary awards were presented during the prize-giving dinner at Knockranny House. After four days of great competition and some fantastic Craic, Rally the Globe’s revered Rally Director, Fred Gallagher, wanted to give everyone the Spirit of the Rally award. Sadly that wasn’t possible and it was Hans and Marien Kuipers who took home the trophy, while David and Jo Roberts left with a well-deserved Against All Odds award.


 
Having entrusted the running of the Vintage Shamrock to the award-winning Rally the Globe team last year, all three founders of Irish Racing Green were able to enjoy the competitive delights of the event they had created. 


 
From the driving seat of his 1931 Alvis 12/60 Beetleback, Mickey Gabbett singled out the route finding brilliance of Mark Appleton (Rally the Globe’s Clerk of the Course) and Anthony Preston (Rally Manager). “There aren’t many roads in Connemara to begin with, but Mark and Anthony turned up some absolutely brilliant ones that even surprised me!” he admitted. 


 
Shane Houlihan, who took an impressive third place overall in his Riley, agreed with his fellow founder and added that he now thought that “the Shamrock is the best vintage motoring event on the calendar”.


 
“There are few better places on Earth to go rallying than in Ireland – the welcome we get around the route is second to none,” confirmed Appleton. “We love working with Irish Racing Green and take immense pleasure from creating what is certainly a very special event both in terms of competition and camaraderie. Plans for 2025 are already moving on at a pace, and we can’t wait to do it all again!” 


 
In the meantime, the Rally the Globe team has two more standout events on mainland Europe lined up for the remainder of the-is year. Next up is the Carrera Bavaria (16-26 June) followed by the somewhat more demanding Austria to Athens Challenge (29 September – 13 October). The last few places on both events are still available.


 
Looking further ahead, the return of both the Generations Rally (28-30 March) and Vintage Shamrock (12-15 May) has been confirmed for 2025 – the ever-popular former event is already fully subscribed with a reserve list open. Rally the Globe’s next endurance style event has also been confirmed for 2025 – the incredible Islands of Japan Marathon (24 September – 22 October). 

 
2024 VINTAGE SHAMROCK: TOP TEN RESULTS
 
1. Stephen Owens & Nick Bloxham (GB/GB) 1937 Jaguar SS100 2m:08s* (time penalties)
2. Andrew & Philippa Bailey (IE/GB) 1938 Triumph Dolomite 2m:24s*
3. Shane Houlihan & Richard Pain (IE/IE) 1937 Riley 12/4 2m:43s*
4. Jim Gately & Tony Brooks (USA/GB) 1937 Cadillac 60 series 3m:08s*
5. Simon Echlin & Mark Brien (IE/GB) 1938 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 3m:18s
6. Graham & Marina Goodwin (GB/GB) 1925 Bentley Supersports 3m:19s*
7. Gavin & Diana Henderson (GB/GB) 1939 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 3m:20s
8. David & Jo Roberts (GB/GB) 1929 Chrysler 75 Roadster 3m:32s
9. Wilfried & Sandra Schaefer (DE/DE) 1934 Talbot AV105 Alpine 3m:47s
10. Clint & Dawn Smith (GB/GB) 1925 Bentley3/4½ 3m:51s
 
* Class winners
 
2024/2025 RALLY THE GLOBE CALENDAR*

16-26 June 2024                                Carrera Bavaria
29 September – 13 October 2024      Austria to Athens Challenge
28-30 March 2025                              Generations Rally
12-15 May 2025                                 Vintage Shamrock**
24 September – 22 October 2025      The Islands of Japan Marathon
 
*Further events to be announced shortly and 2025 dates provisional
**In association with Irish Racing Green


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