Mick and Sara Bell, who won everyone's admiration on LBL 2008 by working all day to rebuild their Isetta 300's engine in Ljubljana, then driving all night across three of the event's toughest passes in order to catch up and keep their class lead, came back to sample the Pyrenees on Micro Marathon...


Carcassonne, World Heritage site and spectacular finish location for Micro Marathon 2009, where we had special permission to drive in convoy into the heart of the largely pedestrianised Mediaeval city.
What an unforgettable experience!


We had a real treat lined up for microcar rallyists in 2009. Not just the Pyrenees – a full week in the mountains could become gruelling even for you hardy types. Instead we gave you a taste of South West France and North East Spain, a big dollop of the Pyrenees and a sip of both the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas...

 We stayed in superb hotels in fascinating cities, we found some fabulous kart circuits for tests and we visited places that had you marvelling at the panoply of history around you...

At Tarragona, we stayed in a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean – the only thing between us and the sea was an incredibly well-preserved Roman amphitheatre.

At Morella, we visited an ancient town still surrounded by its original mediaeval walls, complete with a Roman aqueduct stretching across the valley, and were welcomed with a Civic Reception and given special permission and a police convoy through the pedestrianised centre to park in the heart of the mediaeval city.

At Belchite, we had a dose of more recent history, for it was the scene of one of the most bloody battles of the Spanish Civil War in August/September 1937. The entire town, held by 7000 of Franco’s Nationalist troops, was destroyed by a much larger Republican force including American troops and Russian-supplied aircraft. Franco later declared the ruined town – where contemporary reports claimed half a million people died – to be left untouched as a monument of war. Now, partially collapsed and buried in rubble, it is a sobering place to visit. The energy of war has allegedly still left its traces, psychic researches recording distant sounds of gunfire, bombs exploding and aircraft flying over in the dead of night...

And the roads... Just unbelievable. I have never seen such deserted roads, anywhere. Even in the wilds of South America, there is more traffic than on most of the roads we found on this route. You can drive for half an hour without seeing another car. And forget sat nav – we took roads that aren’t even on the map, let alone the sat nav! To give the proper flavour of rallying as it was in 1958 (for we are still celebrating that pioneering LBL), we found some dirt roads too – nothing that would damage your car, these were incredibly smooth, just making for a new experience and stunning photographs.

The Pyrenees have passes that are a match for anything you can see in the Dolomites (splendid though those are), the biggest difference being that where at the top you might have expected a gift shop, here you find a handwritten sign “Queso, Fromage” beside a dirt track leading to a small hut. Follow it and you can buy for a few euros a huge chunk of delicious sheep’s cheese the like of which you’ve never tasted before. A perfect supplement to those packed lunches, eaten in rustic peace on the mountain top where wild horses, wolves and bears roam and vultures fly...

This rally was not intended to leave you as utterly exhausted as LBL did in 2008, even for drivers of the smallest microcars. Some days were shorter, the routes more varied and the photo controls more imaginative: Yes, we got you to dip your toes in the Atlantic AND the Mediterranean. And there was a free day at the end, to enjoy the spectacular finish location...

For the climax of the rally, we had something really special. Carcassonne (above right) is a World Heritage Site, an incredibly unspoilt mediaeval hilltop fortress town in France. All the walls are intact, as are most of the buildings inside and it is the most incredible place to visit. Normally you cannot drive into the city – but we did, and better still, we stayed at one of the only two hotels inside the ancient city walls. A truly unforgettable experience, that we will repeat for a wider audience in the future: WATCH THIS SPACE!!



Up to 360cc                                                                                   Penalties

1   Vic Sayer/Craig Lawson                       Subaru 360                          6

2   Mick & Sara Bell                                     BMW Isetta 300               206

3   Phil Tetley/Martin Archer                       Berkeley T60                  1010

4   John Ducker/Theo Clift                         Heinkel 200                    1270

     Jane Puttock/James Ewing                 Subaru 360                      DNF (retired due to engine failure on day 4, when lying second in class)


1   Mark Smith/Jane Southgate                 Messerschmitt TG500        6

2   Howard & Jane Atkins                           Fiat 500                             210

3   Tony Maybury/Gerry Moroney                Fiat 500                             788

4   Dan O’Brien/Bernie O’Connor             Fiat 500 Giardiniera        880

Over 500cc

1   Loree Kalliainen/Kevin Clemens        Trabant P601 Combi      146

2   Hedwig & Nicole Rodyns                      Morgan F2                        202



No   Car                                             cc      Driver                    Co-driver

Up to 360cc Class

1     1959 Heinkel 200                   198    John Ducker, GB     Theo Clift, GB

2     1960 BMW Isetta 300             298    Mick Bell, GB           Sara Bell, GB

3     1960 Berkeley T60                  328    Phil Tetley, GB        Martin Archer, GB

4     1967 Subaru 360                    356    Vic Sayer, GB          Craig Lawson, GB

5     1967 Subaru 360                    356    Jane Puttock, GB     James Ewing, GB

360-500cc Class

6     1960 Messerschmitt TG500  493    Mark Smith, GB        Jane Southgate, GB

7     1972 Fiat 500                            499    Howard Atkins, GB    Jane Atkins, GB

8     1969 Fiat 500                            499    Tony Maybury, EIRE  David McCarthy, EIRE

9     1963 Fiat 500 Giardiniera       499    Dan O’Brien, EIRE     Bernie O’Connor, GB

Over 500cc Class

10   1977 Trabant P601 Combi     595    Loree Kalliainen, US   Kevin Clemens, CAN

11   1936 Morgan F2                        933    Hedwig Rodyns, B    Nicole Rodyns-Vervloet, B

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