Homage to Cat­alo­nia

Com­pe­ti­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity in glo­ri­ous Span­ish scenery

Octane - - IGNITION // EVENTS - Words Rick Pear­son

This, The sixTh run­ning of the event af­ter pre­vi­ous edi­tions in Tu­nisia, Ar­gentina, Morocco and Tus­cany, saw a re­turn to the stages of Cat­alo­nia – which were to be used by the World Rally Cham­pi­onship just a few days later. It was or­gan­ised by Dakar leg­end Jean-Claude Morel­let.

Whether your pre­ferred mount was a 1953 Citroën 2CV (which 2CV col­lec­tor Jean-Pierre Len­fant had bal­anced on its side for emer­gency ser­vic­ing in the park­ing lot of the very chic ho­tel where the rally was stay­ing) or a mod­ern 911 called into ac­tion at the last minute, you could not fail to be im­pressed by the roads, vis­tas and the ca­ma­raderie of the crews. Each day saw im­promptu reg­u­lar­ity coach­ing among the co-pi­lots be­fore the start, and gen­uine joy among the teams at the nightly prize­giv­ing and film show, es­pe­cially if a pre­vi­ously un­lucky crew had man­aged to con­jure a stage win.

With 15 reg­u­lar­i­ties spread over five days and 1325km, the or­gan­is­ers threw in a Speed Gun chal­lenge (a short dash into and then out of an up­hill hair­pin) which was dom­i­nated by two Porsches: the youngest par­tic­i­pant, Fabrice Ger­va­soni, and the old­est, Jean-Claude Miloe, who is a sprightly 83.

In the fi­nal stand­ings, each of the first four also won their cat­e­gory: lead­ing out­right from start to fin­ish, Philippe and Ni­cole Ger­va­soni, in a beau­ti­ful 1957 Jaguar XK150 coupé, also won Cat­e­gory 1 (’50s). Yves Mori­zot (co-driven by my­self) in a 1973 Lan­cia Ful­via claimed se­cond over­all and Cat­e­gory 3 (’70s), while Yan­nick Mori­zot (brother of Yves) and his wife Jac­que­line in a 1982 Porsche 911 Targa came third and won Cat­e­gory 4 (’80s). The only 100% non-French crew on the rally, brothers Martin and Peter Sch­mitt from Switzer­land, in their 1966 Alfa Romeo Gi­u­lia Sprint GT, took fourth over­all and won Cat­e­gory 2 (’60s).

Hos­pi­tal­ity for crews in­cluded a stun­ning parador and a re­stored monastery, Miche­lin­starred restau­rants in the middle of nowhere, and lunch un­der the arches of the me­dieval vil­lage of Monells. The fi­nal stop saw par­tic­i­pants park by the Olympic Port in Barcelona for lunch at the fa­mous Can­grejo Loco, be­fore a gala din­ner and awards cer­e­mony in the evening.

With the em­pha­sis on the qual­ity of the routes matched by the food and ac­com­mo­da­tion, it is no sur­prise that 14 of the 18 crews had al­ready par­tic­i­pated in at least one of the pre­vi­ous events. It re­turns for 2016 in Sar­dinia, 2-9 Oc­to­ber.

Above, from top The win­ning Jaguar XK150; top­less Day­tona and Lan­cia Ful­via coupé make the most of Span­ish sun and scenery.

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