The fifth running of Tour Britannia will take place between September 7th and 9th this year. In line with the expressed preference of past competitors, this friendly mixture of rallying and racing will retain its traditional format but head into some new pastures. Also, bearing in mind the financial troubles that have surfaced since the last Tour Britannia in September 2008, every attempt has been made to keep competitor costs to a minimum without losing one iota of the style that has made Tour Britannia a "must-do" event in the classic calendar.
To achieve this, the event has telescoped its Documentation and Scrutineering into a single morning which means that competitors can arrive at Silverstone on the Monday and be racing there in the afternoon. This is followed by something novel - Tour Britannia are honoured to be the first "outsiders" to use the challenging new Silverstone Porsche Driving Experience track for a stage. Another special stage in Oxfordshire follows and then the field will come back to Silverstone for the welcome dinner that would normally precede any on-track activity.
From Silverstone on the Tuesday morning, the route lies north-eastwards. We have decided to make this our track day with 2 different race venues, since the loss of Croft Circuit scheduled for the Wednesday in light of their recent unfortunate court restrictions. The second of these is Cadwell Park, which has been so popular with Tour Britannia competitors in the past. The one certain thing is that the northward move will give Tour Britannia a fresh aspect and lots of new roads, both competitive and liaison sections, that will enhance its already successful format.
The two overnight halts in the north-east will be at Harrogate and it is there on the Wednesday evening that the prize giving and farewell dinner will be held. Thus the whole event will fit into three full and exciting days which will surely make the fifth Tour Britannia as memorable for its competitors as the previous four. Once again, there will be two separate events running side by side to comprise Tour Britannia. As well as the competition category, where speed is the deciding factor both on the tracks and on the stages, there is the regularity category where the ability to drive and navigate with precision is more important. Both categories accept classic and historic cars defined as being built before 1982, but the competition category requires that both car and crew carry all the necessary safety equipment specified by modern-day rules.
There is also a strong connection with Harrogate in that Ogdens of Harrogate is the British agent for the sponsors of the regularity category, Harwood Watches of Switzerland. They present a pair of the unique Harwood self-winding, crown-less watches to the crew of the winning car in the Regularity Category. In addition they are giving watches to the second and third placed Regularity crews as well. This part of Tour Britannia is becoming more popular not just thanks to its prize structure but since the addition last year of more demanding road regularities thus giving the competitors more mileage on which to show their skill and precision.
It would be something of a miracle if entry levels at this stage of this particular year were as high as they have been in the past but Alec Poole, the event's commercial director, says "I am actually quite happy that confirmed entries are already well into double figures. We understand that circumstances are difficult for many people and we are doing our best to keep standards high while keeping Tour Britannia an attractive proposition for those who want to enjoy their classic motoring. It goes without saying that with the current Pound-to-Euro relationship, competing on a British event is looking even more acceptable in 2009."
Tour Britannia has decided to put back the reduced entry fee cut off date from March 2nd to March 16th. The standard entry fee is £200 more for Regularity and £360 more for Competition. This will enable both Alec Poole and Sporting Director, Fred Gallagher, to answer queries about the event and accept entries at Race Retro, Stoneleigh Exhibition Centre from March 13th to 15th. They can be found on the Tour Britannia stand A42 in Hall Two.
One only has to look at the list of officials in the regulations to realise that Tour Britannia is an event organised by competitors for competitors, to which it owes a lot of its reputation and success. The format of mixed racing and rallying provides a challenge found at few other times in Britain and, when that is added to the excellent social and gastronomic aspects of the event, it becomes almost irresistible.