Event report - Rally Round


Event report - Rally Round
ignition // EVENTS
19 January
– 8 february
Yangon to Pyay,
Sporting spectacle
H&H’s groundbreaking rally through the former
Burma mixes competition and exploration
Words and photography Peter Hall
Above, from top
The first competitive rally in the country once known
as Burma was won by this Volvo 142S; MGA, Lagonda
and BMW 327/2 were among 23 competitors.
30 may 2014 OCTANE
This event – organised by a new offshoot of
auction company H&H – broke new ground as the
first competitive rally in Burma, the country now
known as Myanmar. This was no small achievement,
as the former British colony – closed to the world
for 50 years under a military junta – is only now,
gradually, emerging from isolation.
Wisely, the rally looped out of Yangon (Rangoon)
to Mandalay and back at a relaxed pace, covering
1500 miles in three weeks and weaving competitive
sections into a schedule that not only avoided the
terrifying prospect of night driving but included
plenty of sightseeing opportunities (via boat,
balloon, train, horse-drawn carriage and elephant).
More importantly, it allowed a respectful
appreciation of an astonishing country and its
ever-smiling people.
Numbers were limited to 30 cars including
support vehicles, which with one non-starter left a
happy band of 23 competing crews, all of whom
praised the event’s intimate scale. ‘I think it’s the
perfect number,’ said Jaguar XK150 co-driver Kate
Lawson. ‘The idea of coming through here with
70-odd cars is really scary.’ Crews ranged from
20-year-old Oliver Hoop, co-driving father Erich’s
1955 Chevy pick-up, to the redoubtable Dorothy
Caldwell, 96, navigating son Alastair in his 1965
Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The machinery was no
less varied, from the 1930 Ford Model A of Adrian
and Barbara Shooter to the 1971 BMW 2800CS of
Roger Allen and Maggie Gray, and from a 1969
Rolls-Royce Corniche (bought by rally novices Dean
and Kendal Goulding on eBay) to the 1969 Roger
Clark/Ove Anderson works Ford Cortina Lotus of
Heidi Winterbourne and Jacqueline Quinan.
It was the 1937 BMW 327/2 of Gerd and Birgit
Bühler that made the early running, cleaning several
timed sections and establishing a 23sec lead until a
moment’s error at the start of a regularity around
the spectacular Bagan Temple Zone over-revved the
engine, causing the rally’s only retirement. José and
Maria Romão de Sousa thus inherited first place in
their 1968 Volvo 142S, while a close battle for
second was fought between the Allen/Gray BMW
and the 1933 Lagonda M45 of Richard Cunningham
and Julian Hanson-Smith.
That the Volvo’s throttle linkage should break
within a mile of the finish was worthy of a movie
script, but the ever-popular de Sousas took victory
on the end of a rope. Class awards went to the
Allen/Gray BMW, the Cunningham/Hanson-Smith
Lagonda, the Winterbourne/Quinan Ford and,
happily (by virtue of distance without penalty),
the Bühler BMW.
The event itself was judged a triumph: ‘The best
I’ve ever done,’ according to 1937 Chevrolet driver
Xavier del Marmol. Nevertheless, all agreed that
Myanmar, and its people, were the real stars.