Acclaimed Paris-Madrid Rally heralds the launch of Rally Round


The 2014 Paris-Madrid Rally (22-25 May) was judged a great success by participants, despite less than glorious weather. The overall winner of the Charles Jarrott Trophy for the second successive year, in his 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C SS Torpedino, Alastair Caldwell was quick to praise the route and the road book, while many others complimented the event's impeccable organisation and schedule, among them the Editor of Retro-Speed Magazine, Peter Baker, who said: "We thoroughly recommend Paris-Madrid, a great event and great fun but still a challenge."

Well-known Bentley competitor Roy Hatfield described it as "an excellent rally", while Doug Hill and Mike Timmins, driving the National Motor Museum's 1903 Napier, said they had "a wonderful time," in spite of several mechanical problems en route.

This all bodes well for the future, as - at the event's glamorous black-tie reception at Versailles - Director Liz Wenman unveiled a brand-new name for the organising company.

"We are pleased to announce that, as part of our ambitious plans to improve, develop and expand the scope of our events, H&H Classic Rallies has changed its name to Rally Round," she said.

"The 2014 Paris-Madrid is the last contest under the H&H banner, but the team will continue to organise events under its new Rally Round identity, with the same focus on fabulous driving adventures, spectacular routes and great company, all hosted by an organisation that puts the customer first and has a safety record second to none. Indeed, we already have several exciting new Rally Round events to look forward to, including the luxurious Orient Express Rally i Italy (April 2015), The Thunder Dragon Rally in Bhutan (November 2015) and the thrilling Haka Classic Rally in New Zealand (November 2016).

Image removed by sender.Ms Wenman said: "Rally Round will continue to offer the ultimate rally experience," she said. "We believe that classic events should be supremely enjoyable as well as exciting, and our schedules are carefully planned to offer every participant a wealth of cultural and other experiences. Our events are uniquely designed to ensure that every competitor remains in contention for as long as possible, and we are careful to respect the age and value of participating cars, as we understand what they mean to their owners. We even offer an arrive-and-drive option for those who don't have a suitable machine."

That arrive-and-drive option proved a boon for Doug Hill and Mike Timmins on the Paris Madrid, for when their historic ex-Charles Jarrott Napier needed a rest, they were able to continue in an historic ex-Paddy Hopkirk Mini Cooper S provided by the organisers. Although the Napier was one of four cars unable to complete the entire three-day, 1,424km (885-mile) route under their own steam, it was nevertheless driven across the finish line to well-deserved applause, runner-up in the Pioneer Class to the 1915 Sunbeam of Mark Robinson and Simon Parfitt.

Class Two (Vintage under 2000cc) was won by James Mitchell and Anya Jackel in a 1936 MG TA 'Cream Cracker', while the honours in Class Three (Vintage over 2000cc) went to Dutch crew Cornelis Willemse and Herman Schipper in a rare 1937 Hudson Century, just 134 seconds behind the overall winning Alfa Romeo of Alastair Caldwell and Laurel Smith. Class Four (Postwar Classics) was won by Robert Keiffer and Michele Thiery in a 1955 Austin-Healey 100/4, ahead of the 1966 Jaguar E-Type of Marc Gordon and his daughter Rosa, remarkably just 11 years old, but already something of a rally veteran, who was presented with a special 'Youngest Navigator' award.

The Spirit of the Rally Award went to champion offshore powerboat racer Mel Hatton, navigated by Peter Hall in the event's smallest car, a 1928 Riley Brooklands, while the Best-Dressed Crew prize was awarded to Ludovic Bois and Julia Coleman in a 1938 Peugeot 402 Legere.