The Villa Navarre, a hotel steeped in motor sport history, has been the hotel of choice for many famous drivers competing in the Grand Prix of Pau. With its great parking, fine dining and superb rooms it’s the ideal place to be starting (and finishing) this event.
This was also the first time the Bespoke Rallies’ proprietary electronic marshalling device (EMD) has been used exclusively on an event – no human marshals in sight! All TCs are logged electronically and cars registered automatically as they pass through, recording their section times. Our electronics guru Chris was on hand to explain how it worked and help with technical questions.
Everyone lined up at the start and were waved off by Finella – normally to be seen with spouse Toby but on this occasion flying solo, helping Sarah organising the rally and driving photographer Russ to many amazing photo opportunities.
There was a slight build up of traffic leaving Pau as they are preparing for the Grand Prix in just over a weeks’ time. As we left Pau we could see the snow-capped mountains of the Pyrenees in the distance. It was a beautiful sunny day. Perfect!
The scenery was a big factor in planning the route which was much appreciated by all as we rallied up, along and down the extraordinary beautiful Pyrenees. We passed through many pretty villages, past ornate churches, dodged round horses and cows with bells around their necks, spotted deer, a llama and many kestrels, buzzards and kites flying the thermals.
There were one or two minor teething problems with the cars, the most serious of which was a broken alternator. A remedy was soon found and all cars proceeded to the coffee halt without incident. Before the lunch stop we drove along roads with snow on the verges and during lunch there was much excited talk about the scenic views and fantastic roads which resulted in a great atmosphere as everyone entered into the spirit of the event.
The route headed into Spain, before returning to Pau and the same hotel. We are happy to report that the timing system worked as expected although one or two participants took a little while to get the best out of it. Leaders in the bar on the first night were Gerold and Gerd Letzbor in their 1972 Ford Escort RS 2000 which had also competed on the Grand Prix of South America last year.
Second was Luc Maruenda and his novice co-driver Agathe Bubbe in their white Jaguar XK 120 Cabriolet and third was Andrew Davies (winner of the Grand Prix of South America) with his wife Anne who was in the driving seat, in their well-travelled 1929 Chrysler 75 Roadster.
Pip pip. More to follow tomorrow….