Better Late Than Never: Paris-Madrid Completed On Its 110th Anniversary

Filed under: Classic News |
Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings win inaugural Charles Jarrott Trophy The course of the infamous 1903 Paris-Madrid race, halted in Bordeaux after a series of terrible accidents, has been completed at last, thanks to H&H Classic Rallies. At 0630 hours on 24 May, exactly 110 years and three hours since the start of the original race, the 2013 Paris Madrid Rally was flagged away from Versailles, as more than 50 pre-war cars set off on the 820-mile run to Madrid. Led by the 1903 Mercedes of Tim and Chris Scott, the 52 rally crews were competing for the Charles Jarrott Trophy, in memory of Britain's first motor racing champion, who was seeded No1 in the original, 1903 race. Despite driving an untried de Dietrich car on dirt roads, Jarrott reached Bordeaux in fourth place, at an impressive average speed of 87.39kmh (54.3mph), although the 'winner', Ferdnand Gabriel, who started 168th, set an astonishing average of 98.05kmh (60.92mph) in his Mors, driving at speeds of up to 130kmh (80mph). Adding to the sense of history surrounding the 2013 rally, Charles Jarrott's great-nephew, Nigel Herring, was present to wave the starting flag at Versailles. The three-day event, which aimed to follow the original race schedule, rested at Angouleme on its first night and at Pamplona on the second, although the route was slightly modified; the course of the 1903 race is mostly motorway and dual carriageway today, so the rally followed more interesting and picturesque minor roads through France and Spain, with a series of special tests and average-speed regularity sections along the way. From a field comprising no fewer than 18 marques and as many nationalities, the overall winners were Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings in their beautiful 1938 Alfa 6C, the most technically advanced machine on the rally. Second were Rudi and Helga Frederichs in their 1932 Alvis Speed 20 and third were Roland van Pelt and Olima Khaitova in their 1934 Bentley. Genuinely touched by a sense of history, all the competitors enjoyed a memorable drive from Paris to Madrid, with none of the controversy which marred the 1903 race. "It was a fabulous event," said Alastair Caldwell, after being presented with the Charles Jarrott Trophy by Simon Hope, Chairman of H&H Classic Rallies, at the gala dinner and prizegiving in the Ritz Hotel, Madrid.Tags:,