MICRO MARATHON 2009 - SEPTEMBER 5-12 - A SUCCESS!
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!!
MICRO MARATHON 2009 RESULTS
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
1 Loree Kalliainen/Kevin Clemens Trabant P601 Combi 146
2 Hedwig & Nicole Rodyns Morgan F2 202
MICRO MARATHON 2009 FINAL ENTRY LIST
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
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