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LBL 2019 Full Rally Report

Published: 09 Aug 2019   updated: 12 Aug 2019

Sue and Neil Revington have just completed The Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally 2019 organised by ClassicRallyPress Ltd, in their TR2 TKR49. The rally took the form of a tour, run without timing on the public road with marshal points being unmanned. To identify we had travelled along the correct rout we were required to take a photo of our car in a particular spot that matched a photo in the road book; a good way of checking our progress without the need for overloading the rally with marshals. The rally did however contain competitive elements with regard to navigation and route finding both on and off-road which categorised it as a sporting event. The event tried to follow much of the original route and recapture the spirit of the pioneering Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally of July 17-20, 1958 which was run for micro cars in the aftermath of the 1956 Suez crisis which severely restricted petrol availability and inflated prices.

Neil takes up the story of their adventure.

Sue and I were easily persuaded to compete in this rally and in particular in our TR4 works rally car which competed in the gruelling sister event Liege Sofia Liege in 1962. Malcolm McKay of ClassicRallyPress Ltd had asked RevingtonTR to sponsor the Liege Brescia Liege rally as it was specifically aimed at TR's. This we agreed to do and set about promoting the event. At the welcoming dinner in Liege Malcolm mentioned that half of the 26 entries had come via RevingtonTR. We were pleased that our promotional efforts had resulted in so many entries. The second part of our support came in the shape of an extensive spares package to cover all the TR's on the event. This large stock of spares was passed to the RAC team who relentlessly followed the rally assisting owners to keep their cars going. Although this rally was classed as a tour for legal reasons, make no mistake, it was tough with long days over endless passes (The Stelvio and the Garvia twice!). Having said that it was a great opportunity to chat to other TR owners especially as several cars on the event were prepared by Revington TR and we supplied parts in preparation for the rally to many more.

So how did the event go? Well it didn't start well for us. You will have spotted the contradiction above, we had spent considerable time preparing 6VC the works TR4 but the night before we were setting out the coolant decided to join the engine oil. Grrrr. This was not as catastrophic as it could have been as we use Evans  coolant which is a light oil rather than water based so there is no nasty mayonnaise but an obvious increase in engine oil and a decrease in coolant. If this had happened on the way home it would have been acceptable to continue home carefully. I was certainly not going to set out on what turned out to be a 5000Km round trip with a known fault. This was discovered the night before leaving so off came the head. Mmmm, nothing much to see so what to do, clean everything up and pop it back on with our usual Heldite gasket cement. All seemed well until I went to get petrol and it looked like the coolant had migrated again. Soooo my trusty TR2 was pulled out of the garage and pressed into service with minimal preparation with only a few hours available before leaving for the ferry.  Over the 5000km TKR49 behaved faultlessly which proved the merit of keeping your TR in tip top condition at all times.

We arrived safely in Liege and were presented with a wodge of maps and a set of route instructions of the type provided in 1958. Sue and I are not the best map navigators so it took a good couple of hours plotting the route on the map for the first day only! The route was not easy to follow on the map as the scale was at best 1:150,000 but usually 1:200,000

Our next morning run took us to the Liedolsheim Go Kart circuit where we have to complete one lap in an exact time. We did OK here but couldn't find two PC's (Passage Controls) and were therefore not able to present the required photo. This placed us 8th at the end of the first day of the rally. What did our school masters say 'must try harder'.

Day two 13th July. Sue's Birthday today so I vowed not to shout at the poor lass when it went pear shaped.

Sue decided she needed a birthday cake so she decorated this cake from our packed lunch with a pencil instead of a candle. Very nice. Oh and we are on a rally. Tough day today. A very long way from Karlsruhe in Germany to Cortina in Italy. Most cars made it so far but the time schedule was tight to try and find all the controls in the time available.

To Ljubljana tomorrow. This is a beautiful city and well worth a visit if you are traveling in that area. We had the benefit of a day off here. We had planned to explore but I found a screw in the tread of my left front tyre so what with getting that fixed and helping other competitors to fix their cars, the day evaporated. Sue was at least able to get 3 days map plotting done.

Paul and Jan in the TRS were doing well at this stage, leading the Spirit category. We were in the Authentic category for cars of a type built up to 1958, that's all the TR's2-3A. All others, TR4-6 (as there were no TR's 7or 8 competing) were in the Spirit category. The Authentic Category is being led by Andrew English and John Smallwood driving a powder blue TR3A registered 637JHU. That registration might mean something to some readers. It is in fact the car I owned in the early 90's on which we developed our famous suspension packages. The car went on to win half a dozen international rallies in our hands and here it was leading the field again.

By day 6 the 17th we were properly up in the mountains and tackling the Stevio and Garvia passes for the first time. Our days end was in Brescia where we were provided with a police escort into the centre of the city where we were able to park where the 1958 rally had assemble at the half way point. The police escort is not to be missed .We had the same experience on the Liege Rome Liege in 2001. It is quite nerve wracking going through red lights following a police motorcycle rider.

As with the rally in 1958 we now headed north to re-join the route at Bolzano via the Franciacorta race circuit. Here we had to do one lap as a time setter then repeat the time twice. I decided to take the circuit at race speed as from experience I know that at that pace it is easy to be consistent. When racing this is irritating because once you have reached your lap pace it is incredibly difficult to increase pace but if you are trying to be consistent this works well. We got two zeros here and were well chuffed but confusion in the cockpit at our heady pace resulted in us doing an extra lap that cost us 10 points. Boooo. At this point in the rally we were 7th with JHU leading our category and the TRS leading the Spirit category.

After Bolzano on day 8 the rally re-joined the route we had taken when traveling south but Paul and Jan in the TRS accumulated some points and dropped to third. On day 10 we revisited the Liedolsheim Go Kart circuit for the final test on our way to the Abbey de Stavelot very close to Spa for the official finish prior to heading off to Liege for our hotel and the prize giving dinner.

 Andrew and John went on to win the authentic category in JHU, so there is another win under its belt and Liz Wakefield and Mike Jones won the Spirit Category in their very reliable TR4A. Well done to the winners but having completed this tough event ourselves I can say that a great big well done is deserving to all those who made it to the end, many after having to make several running repairs. Just getting back to Liege is a tribute to the tenacity of the crews and the reliability of the cars. The RAC guys were on the go all the time often coming in to dinner hours after the main field of competitors. Their tireless hard work received a hearty standing ovation at the final dinner it rightly it should have.

Malcolm gave us a very testing rally, with some long days but the scenery as ever in this part of the world is stunning which is always a pleasure to drive through.