The not-for-profit historic rally club Rally the Globe returned to Scotland for the Highland Thistle Rally, which took place from 2-7 September. The rally was the clubs first major event since the curtain came down on the epic Southern Cross Safari in East Africa 18 months ago.
Starting and finishing in the Scottish seaside resort town of St Andrews, the rescheduled Highland Thistle attracted a full-capacity, 35-car entry including teams from overseas as well as the UK. With travel restrictions now lifting, crews traveled from Germany, Switzerland, Kenya, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the USA, all eager once again to get behind the wheel and embark on a rally adventure.
St Andrews’ Fairmont Hotel provided luxurious hospitality first for the eve of the rally formalities and the rekindling of friendships and then for the post-event prize-giving gala dinner.
Crews taking part in this years Highland Thistle Rally were treated to an incredible 1125 mile (1800km) of magnificent motoring. The meticulously devised route not only featured many of Scotland’s most spectacular, challenging and remote roads but also top-quality accommodation, fine cuisine, picture-postcard castles and a host of other activities and attractions. Plus, of course, a number of competitive speed tests and regularity sections over which the rally itself would be won and lost.
There are some inspiring experiences which included a late-summer drive through the wilds of Scotland. The routes took crews through enchanting glens, rolling moors, majestic mountains and beautiful lochs. The rally travelled over scenic spots such as the Ben Lawers pass, up the Rest and Be Thankful hillclimb, through Glen Coe, past the Quirang on Skye and over the Bealach na Bà on the Applecross Peninsula.
After five truly epic days of memorable motoring adventures on many of Scotland’s most iconic roads, Mike and Lorna Harrison took their 1959 Triumph TR3A to a stirring overall victory and top honours in the Classic category. This was despite running into mechanical issues that threatened to end their rally.
Graham and Marina Goodwin sealed the spoils in the Pre-War category aboard their 1929 Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans replica, who triumphed despite suffering mechanical woes before the rally event started.
With the finish in sight, the TR3A developed an unhealthy thirst for fuel and needed last-gasp technical assistance from the experienced Rally the Globe travelling support team to get them over the line.
“The sweep crew saved our bacon – without them we wouldn’t have made the finish,” admitted a relieved Mike Harrison. “At one point we thought we were going to have to push the car over the line but we made it with just a few minutes to spare before the cut-off time. To do The Highland Thistle Rally in Scotland in such fantastic weather and with such great company has been absolutely astonishing”.
For the Goodwins the drama came before the start when their short-chassis Bentley 3-litre Super Sports suffered a fractured oil pipe and seized engine on the drive to Scotland. As a result it had to be substituted by a rather larger and less nimble Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans replica, a big beast which was far less suited to the narrow mountain roads, notably the tight hairpins down into Applecross.
“This wasn’t the car we intended to drive and it was pretty tricky at times but my navigator mastered the maps and we never took a wrong turn,” reported the victorious Goodwin who was another relishing the opportunity to get back in the hot seat. “The event was absolutely awesome,” he waxed lyrical. “Running a rally like this in the Highlands of Scotland is much harder than people think as the accommodation is limited and there’s a real art in finding roads through the best scenery which still facilitate a competitive rally – and this route was truly outstanding.”
Further class accolades were awarded to David and Jo Roberts (1963 Triumph TR4), Tony Brooks and Andy Lane (1976 Alpine Renault A310) and Manuel Dubs and Giancarlo Tottoli (1940 Ford Coupe).
The Spirit of the Rally award was presented to the novice crew of Paul Taylor and Paul Haslam who, in their Ford Escort RS2000 displayed good humour throughout and the Against All Odds trophy was taken by Otakar Chádek and Zdenka Holecková for their effort in keeping their Mercedes on the right road despite an almost total lack of English!
Rally the Globe’s next event, the Carrera Italia, heads to mainland Europe in just under a month’s time. It promises to be every bit as special as the Highland Thistle Rally with ten days of stunning driving through the majesty of the Ligurian Alps, Italian Lakes, the Dolomites and Tuscany.
For more information on Rally the Globe and full results from the Highland Thistle Rally visit www.rallytheglobe.com.