Setting out for Epic Rally from London to Lisbon

By bellmannews / April 19, 2024
Vintage Volvo with George and Rosalind at each door

By Andrew Wallace

A former Stonehaven man is flying the flag for Scotland in next week’s tough London to Lisbon marathon car rally.

George Topp, and his wife and navigator Rosalind, are seeded in car 11, their specially prepared 1966 Volvo Amazon 132S.

The couple, who successfully completed the famous Monte Carlo Historique Rallye earlier this year, now live in SW France, with the rally route actually passing close to their home-town Jonzac.

A member of a well-known Stonehaven family, George was a journalist in the town before becoming editor of a Lanarkshire paper, and moved to France on retiral.

Fifty crews from as far away as Japan and the USA are tackling the 2,800 km 10-day rally which sees them visit four different countries.

The rally cars taking part are all classic or historic vehicles built before 1985.   A 1930 open top Bentley Le Mans from Germany is the oldest car, and the youngest a 1985 VW Golf driven by a UK crew.

Crews gather in London on April 24th for car eligibility and safety checks before starting the following day from the historic Brooklands race circuit with its famous banked curves.  In fact, as soon as the start flag is dropped, competitors go straight into the first of eight speed tests held during the rally – this opening one gives them the rare opportunity to drive around the iconic banked curves following in the tyre tracks of some of motor racing’s most famous drivers.

Brooklands was the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century.

The racing circuit was constructed in 1907 and was the first purpose-built racing circuit in the world. Many records were set there. Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands, which soon became one of Britain’s first aerodromes. It attracted many aviation pioneers prior to World War I, and was also a leading aircraft design and manufacturing centre in the 20th century, producing a remarkable total of some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 260 types between 1908 and 1987

The London to Lisbon Rally, organised by HERO-ERA, takes competitors to Portsmouth for an overnight ferry to St Malo and then down the western coast of France before heading over the Pyrenees and into Spain, and then Portugal, eventually finishing at the Palacio Estoril on May 4.  Apart from the speed tests the 10-day event includes 35 navigational regularities, the winners of which will receive their awards at a gala prize giving dinner at the Palacio Estoril.

Picture – George & Rosalind Topp having completed the Monte Carlo Historique.