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Route Of Saint James Rally 2003

Published: 01 Jul 2003

Neil and Sue Revington took part in the Rally of Saint James during June 2003 in the Ex-Works TR4 rally car registered 3VC. This event is run by Pete Davis who in the past has organised excellent rallies such as the Carrera Portugal and Rally de Pyrenees.

This event was no exception and proved to be extremly well run.
Neil and Sue have been fortunate enough to win both these previous events. One of the first criteria for winning an event such as this is understanding the organiser's intentions. Having competed in quite a few of Pete's events and therefore understanding the way he works, held us in good stead for this one.

The event started in the University town of Salamanca some 130 miles north west of Madrid and broadly followed the route taken by followers of Saint James on pilgramage to Santiago, ending six days later in the Picos de Europa, the magnificent coastal mountain range, the first sighting of land seen by explorers returning from the 'New World' and as such much treasured.

The six-day event was a regularity rally where an average speed of 50kph needed to be maintained.

Full Report - By Neil Revington

Regularity rallies are now so popular such that organisers have to widen the net to find new areas to rally in, to keep us, the competitors happy.

The Route of St. James Rally was no exception. St. James, for the uninitiated, founded a religious centre in Santiago, northern Spain, believed to be the third most important religious centre in Christianity after Jerusalem and Rome. Pilgrims still to this day trek to Santiago wearing a daft brown hat with a shell on the front and a staff.

This Regularity rally was organised by Classic Eurosport ltd. who have previously run the Rally des Pyraneés, among others. One Feature of this rally, which was unusual, was the organisers' choice to run two rallies side by side; one for cars using unlimited fancy electronic equipment (classic section) and one for those using mechanical trips (historic section). We chose to use the normal speedometer trip as this is the system Sue and I have 'used and proved' for years.

Competition was likely to be fierce with established competitors entered such as Paul Meryweather/Sandra Deacon, John and Pauline Dignan, Anthony and Julia Cohen, to name but a few. We all journeyed down on the P&O Bilbao boat, which always proves an enjoyable trip, giving the competitors time to make new or renew acquaintances. For Jerry and Sandra Watson, and Jerry and Clair Hutton the fun started even before the ferry, Jerry W was to bring his TR4 but the crank snapped! So they swiftly returned home to collect the XK, which served them well for the remainder of the week. Jerry H was to come in his Maserati but this suffered engine trouble too, so he too diverted home, and collected the TR4. Sue and I were impressed with their tenacity but also relieved that they had taken the trouble, as they were both in our team!

Day one was a long run from Salamanca to Vidago past countless stalk nests. Not a particularly eventful day; the Dignans won the day for the Classic section whilst the Mercedes of Nigel and Paula Broderick were first Historic. Most memorable of Vidago was the Palace Hotel. The hotel is indeed a palace with the most amazingly decorated dining room, very posh.

Day Two took us into the most backward part of Portugal, some villages looked as though they hadn't advanced since the middle age, ending in the Port of Baiona, an increadably beautiful place, with equaly increadable see food. Sue and I were fortunate to win the day, which elevated us to joint 1st place with a score of 2 seconds on the day, even we were impressed!

Day Three took us into the hills above Pontevadra; rather similar to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. Paul Merryweather and Sandra Deacon made an uncharacteristic mistake at the beginning of the day demoting them from joint first Historic (with ourselves) to 10th.

Day Four was the highlight of the event, the Finesterre loop proving particularly challenging climbing over the most westerly mountains in Europe. The views as we descended to the coast were breath taking. We stayed in Santiago for two nights in the Palacio del Carmen, which was conveniently close to the cathedral. Sue and I won the day again allowing us to maintain our first placed historic position.

Day Five was a long day from Santiago to Oviedo, the heat was unbearable all week but today we recorded 46° in the TR4! One of the marshals became seriously ill with sunstroke.

Day Six the final run into Fuenta De was a little disappointing from a competitive point of view but certainly not form the scenery point of view, the Picos Mountains are really stunning and unspoilt. Halfway through the day the TR4 developed an unpleasant knocking on RH bends. I stopped to check wheel bearings - nothing to be found: Once on the road again Sue said, "Thought of checking the wheel nuts", "Brilliant" I said and under my breath "Why didn't I think of that!" a quick check revealed one loose wheel - a result of the constant sawing at the wheel for hour after hour, within seconds we were tightened and on the road again. Our day was average score wise but our nearest rival, in the historic section, teammates Jerry and Clair Hutton were quite some way behind, Jerry and Sandra Watson in the XK succumbed the 'untried Car' disease, suffering a dodgy odometer, which wouldn't zero demoting them from 2nd to 7th. Still a good result.

We managed to hang on to 1st place overall in the historic section with 42 seconds penalty for the week, and were pleased to be only 6 seconds adrift from the classic section winners, who ended up with 36 seconds Penalty, good efforts by the two Jerrys', Sandra and Clair ensured we won the team prize too.

The rally was exceptionally well run, providing us with accurate timing, good hotels and spectacular scenery - what else could you want? Apart from the wheel nut drama, 3VC went well even in the searing heat - not bad for an old un' (I can hear you all saying 'Is he talking about himself or the car now!)