LeJog attracts adventurous competitors but it also brings unusual rally cars
German journalist Thomas Geiger accompanied by Andreas Ignaz have brought a 1979 Volkswagen Iltis (German for polecat) to Le Jog, a machine originally made by VW for the military, it resembles a land duck but actually formed the basis for the Audi Quattro with its 4WD and turbo charged engine. Rumour has it that Audi’s Walter Tressler took inspiration from the vehicle and formulated the Audi Quattro which went on to win so many WRC titles.
The German duo of Jochen Hempel, a four times LeJog veteran and newbie LeJogger Martin Hoermann, have brought a series 1 Bristol 411, a most unlikely rally car, although Bristol did compete on Monte Carlo in the early sixties. Jochen decided to bring his Bristol after his friend had to pull out with their 1981 SLC Mercedes 500 AMG, he reckons English car will be fine and go the distance.
Rod Hanson and Clare Grove have returned with the mighty 1988 MG Maestro. A car known for its race track prowess in the MG Maestro Challenge, although it competed on rallies too in many famous drivers hands. Rod reckons the car handles like a Mini, and with Clare on the maps they could be in the medals.
The 1958 Austin A35 of HERO Challenge winner Nick van Praag and Yaan-Alexandre Tytgadt with its jelly mould shape has never looked even likely as a rally car. Yet the late John Sprinzel proved everyone wrong when he won in the car on stage and track. It won’t wobble its way to Scotland, instead it will fizz its way down the lanes and over the mountains as the potent but unusual rally machine that this Austin has become. It will also be very popular with the fans as Alastair Caldwell’s A35 was with the Mexican fans on the Carrera South America when they christened it the ‘Cockroach.’
You think the A35 is slow but it isn’t really, not when compared to the 600 cc 1965 Citroen 2CV AZAM of Eric van Straaten and Joost Bolwidt. A brave and unusual entry on LeJog this little puddle jumper could probably prove a lot of folk wrong and get to Scotland in fine style. It will lean its way round the bends and absorb every big bump there is as it wallows along the road. 2CV Racing is friendly and fast, 2CV’s have been across the desert to Dakar so why shouldn’t the Dutch 2CV get to John O’Groats?
Equally unusual yet supremely streamlined and luxurious is a 1973 DS Pallas from the top end of the Citroen range. Teams of them tackled the Monte Carlo Rally and one nearly won the London Sydney Marathon, but as Jules Tops and Gerard Speksnijder said; “we would rather be comfortable and do LeJog in style.”
One to attract the eye and say ‘you don’t see many of those about’ is the 1973 Chrysler Galant of Peking to Paris hero Owen Turner and ace navigator and fellow competitor Andy Ballantyne. Owen loves the unusual, less likely rally cars, and often turns then into winners. Watch out for this car and its crew, they could be gold medal winners.
Then there is the 1985 Honda Accord. It looks incredibly boring and semi boxy but it belongs to Simon Mellings and he has made many silk purses out of sow’s ears, as he did with his previous and equally conservative looking Toyota. It was quick, this car too will be swift and reliable, but more than that, he and Dan Middle travel to John O’Groats with a purpose, to raise as much money as possible for the Hope House Children’s Charity along the way. We will learn more, but what a wide range of rally cars we have on the 26th edition of LeJog!