Amazing mountain passes, fun driving hour after hour with fab views: that's Liege-Brescia-Liege!
Glorious mountain scenery, deserted, beautiful roads: that's Mycenaean-Minoan Rally 2016!
VITAL ADVICE IF YOU'RE THINKING OF ENTERING ONE OF OUR RALLIES - READ ALL ABOUT THEM HERE!
How soon should we enter?
If you're thinking of entering, move fast to be sure to avoid disappointment. Some of our LBL hotels told us in 2008 that they could only give us a maximum of 60 rooms: we managed to get 68 rooms in the end (for 54 entries and support crews) but couldn't have taken any more entries! Since LBL 2010, we have selected smaller hotels than in 2008 for two of the nights in order to keep right on the original route rather than deviating off just to get a bigger hotel, and for 2016's Mycenaean-Minoan Rally our maximum is 22 cars.
Where does the rally go?
The Liege-Brescia-Liege route runs from Liege down through Germany, across Austria to northern Italy, where it turns east through the Dolomites into Slovenia. From Ljubljana, it heads back west into the Dolomites again and on to the Stelvio Pass, then down the Gavia Pass to Brescia. From Brescia it heads east then north again, over the stunning Passo Pennes, back across Austria and Germany to return to Liege.
The XK-E Pyrenee route starts at Toulouse, heading south-east into the Pyrenees before looping around to head west, driving the best-known and the least-known, most scenic and challenging roads of the French Pyrenees before crossing to the Spanish side and making its way through tiny, near-forgotten lanes to the glorious seaside resort of San Sebastian. After a morning on the beach (or in the shops!) we head inland again, but now into the heart of Spain, on deserted country roads that offer fantastic driving experiences and taking in several tests at the stunning Motorsport Aragon complex. We hit the Mediterranean sea at Tarragona before heading north, back into the Pyrenees at Andorra. The final day takes in some more fine passes before finishing in the astonishing mediaeval citadel of Carcassonne.
The Mycenaean-Minoan Rally starts at Igoumenitsa in the far north-west of Greece, where the ferries from the heel of Italy arrive (we'll be leading a convoy down from Calais) and heads into the quiet and delightfully bucolic mountain pastures adjacent to the Albanian border, staying in a delightful lakeside hotel. It then heads east across northern Greece to the co-capital, Thessaloniki, where we stay in a majestic, historic city-centre hotel looking out over the sea while we explore the north east up to the Bulgarian and Turkish borders. Then we turn south-west, visiting the magnificent historic site of Delphi before crossing on a floating bridge to the island of Leukada, then by ferry to Kephalonia where we stay two nights, passing on by specially-chartered ferry to Zakinthos, then back to the mainland - the Peloponnese, where we stay in a tiny mediaeval citadel on a promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean. We visit Mycenae (of course) before taking the overnight ferry to Crete, where we travel the length and breadth of the island, taking in all its finest sights including the Minoan Capital Knossos, and Phaestos, and a stunning hillclimb from the seaside to 800m high, all smooth switchback with no traffic and breathtaking views. We stay in a superb, quiet harbourside hotel in Chania, in the heart of its vibrant historic district, and in another excellent harbourside hotel in Heraklion, a short walk from Crete's finest archaeological museum and the historic centre. We return on overnight ferry for the triumphant finish in Athens, staying in one of Athens' finest hotels with views over the Parthenon for the Prizegiving Dinner.
What accommodation is provided?
All accommodation (11 nights on LBL, 9 nights on XK-E Pyrenee, 16 on Mycenaean-Minoan Rally) is in twin or double rooms at hotels of a high standard (many 4 star, some 5 star) and virtually all meals are provided, including lunches.
If we can find one or two other people with the same cars, or some others have already entered, can we enter a team?
Yes! there will certainly be a Marque Team Trophy, as on the original event (when it was won by the Zundapps!) and a team of three cars entered together earns all a discount of 5%. In 2008 the winning team was the Messerschmitt Tigers, closely followed by the Vespa 400s and Zundapps. Team entry costs just 90 euros, that's 30 euros per car.
How do we follow the route?
The route will be given out as a list of place names (plus more detailed info for getting in and out of cities) so that you can plot your route on the maps provided at Signing On, and then follow it - points will be awarded for following the full, correct, route! All the maps you need are provided as part of the entry fee.
Included on LBL are visits to places of interest along the route, such as the Boxenstop Museum at Tubingen, Museo Gino Tonutti near Udine, the Mille Miglia Museum at Brescia, Automobil Museum Fritz Busch at Wolfegg, Automuseum Engstingen, the fascinating reconstructed wooden castle of Bachritterburg at Kanzach and the fabulous, fairytale castle of Schloss Lichtenstein - and optional special tests on kart circuits close to the route.
How tight is the timing on the rally?
There is no strict timing schedule as the event is run as a tour, not a regularity rally. However, to enable us to keep track of everyone and send out search parties if any do go missing, we require everyone to clock out during a half-hour window each morning, and to clock in during a one-hour window in the evening. Each day's route will be approx 200 miles (slightly less on XK-E Pyrenee and Mycenaean-Minoan Rally) and there will be around 10 hours between the start and finish 'hours'.
Is the rally competitive or not? How can we win?
It may be a tour, but there is still plenty of competition if you want it.
First, you must keep your car in good shape so that it can get through the day without lengthy delays for repairs. Points will be deducted if official assistance is required.
Second, you must transfer the route, which will be provided (as on the original rally) in the form of a list of place names, onto the maps. Then you must successfully navigate yourselves on the route you've plotted. You will be required to provide evidence at the end of each day to prove you have covered the correct route and missed nothing out (how this will be done will be revealed later!).
Third, there will be special tests, along the lines of autotests to assess handling, manoeuvrability and performance, on the superb kart circuits at (for LBL) Spa Francorchamps in Belgium and Liedolsheim in Germany - both circuits are over 1km long - plus a circuit lap consistency test on the very impressive new Circuito di Franciacorta race circuit in Italy, which has hosted many high-profile races including European Touring Cars..
Are there prizes?
Yes, prizes will be awarded in a wide range of classes and categories, for navigation, performance, style and durability.
If we tow our car to the start, what can we do with our towcar and trailer for the duration of the event?
We have secured parking for all towcars and trailers at Liege for the duration of LBL.
Is it compulsory to have a navigator, or can I drive solo?
A navigator/co-driver is required, though if you have a son/daughter/niece/nephew etc old enough and responsible enough to hold a map and point you in the right direction, that's fine. The youngest navigator so far, in 2012, was 9, and the oldest in 2011 was 84 - and both came away hugely enthused and begging for the chance to take part again!
Will you provide a back-up minibus to take passengers up the steepest passes?
No, part of the challenge is to get the car and two people up the passes! Microcars were originally designed to carry full loads in all road conditions and were geared accordingly. On the original event there were four 250cc four-stroke Zundapp Januses, with big Germans driving/navigating, and they managed to complete the entire route without problems - and quite a few of the passes then were unsurfaced, so much harder work. In 2008 we had a 197cc Heinkel and a 191cc Messerschmitt that completed the whole route two-up.
Unlike the original event, we're not running against the clock so there should be time to stop, enjoy the view and let the engine cool down if it gets a bit hot. On our microcar events, we provide a baggage van to transport your clothes/overnight bag during the event, so all you need to have in your car are two people, tools and spares. Deciding what tools and spares to take - minimising weight while covering as many possible failures as you can - is another part of the challenge!
What happens if my car breaks down after a few days, will I miss out on the rest of the rally?
All participants must take out European Breakdown Recovery Cover, just in case. We will have mechanical back-up (with a towing dolly) to help repair breakdowns and to transport any that cannot be repaired on the spot either to the nearest garage where repairs can be effected or, if close, to the finish of the day. The nature of the route, which passes through the same area in north Italy three times on LBL, means that it is often feasible to miss a couple of days and rejoin the rally not too far away. It is of course in the entrant's interest to make sure their car is in perfect running order and to drive in such a way as to avoid undue strain, while maintaining good progress. All part of the skill and the challenge of successful rallying! If you send your car home and take a hire car, you will be welcome to continue with the event, but of course you will be out of the competition.