Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo 19-23/11/11
Amazingly, it's been 21 years since the first Monte-Carlo Challenge was conceived, an event that would leave such a lasting impression on those fortunate to be part of it. Designed to be more than just another event for old cars, the Challenge paid homage to the most famous rally in the world, and the founding fathers of the A.C. de Monaco who started it all in 1911.
The original Monte-Carlo Challenge was very special. It recalled with care the atmosphere of the most authentic winter epic, the challenge of driving the worst roads in Europe in the thick of mid-winter, and the satisfaction of surviving and finally descending from the Alpine snow and fog to the brilliant sunshine of the Mediterranean, and the most famous finishing ramp in rallying history.
In recent years, there have been many requests to run another Winter Challenge, as it subsequently became known, but the temptation has been stoically resisted, in the knowledge that sometimes one can't turn back the clock. However, with 2011 marking the centenary of the Rally Monte Carlo, it seemed appropriate for the most authentic of all re-creations to be resurrected.
Thus, the International Winter Challenge will again be organised with the emphasis on historical authenticity, not just because car modifications are limited to correct period specification, but also in the way the actual event is run. Everything will be a step back in time to the Golden Era of Rallying and the icing on the cake is that the mountain roads of France still provide the most challenging and enjoyable motoring anywhere in the world.
So welcome back duffle coats, silk scarves, flying jackets, thermos flasks, snow chains, tow ropes and fog lights. The tantalising prospect of climbing ice covered passes on skinny tyres in frozen cars with little heating and windscreen washers that don't work too well. Driving all night through empty, snow bound landscapes lit only by the light of a full moon and dim, doll's eye spotlights of 50 year old cars. Navigator's who struggle, with tired eyes and frozen fingers, to follow the demanding route on their maps, and a sigh of relief when you finally find a lonely marshal keeping vigil by the roadside.
The Winter Challenge has to be the most authentic winter adventure of them all and an event that captures the reason d'etre of the International Rally Driver's Club. The entry list looks like a who's who of historic rallying with many past, present and hopefully, future members of the IRDC taking part in an eclectic mix of 74 cars representing 5 decades of the iconic rally.
These intrepid pilotes include Peter Baker, active IRDC committee member and editor in chief of the mercurial historic motor sport web magazine Retro-Speed, sharing his well-rallied Lancia Fulvia 1600 with the magazine's European editor Peter Collins.
The 18th Winter Challenge Rally runs from 19th - 23rd November and is organised by the Classic Rally Association.
For more details, reports and photographs log on to:- www.classicrally.org.uk
9th November, 2011