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Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 17 Fujairah to Dubai – 412 KM

First ever Badawi Trail to the Last Oasis breaks new ground in Middle East

*7500 kms in 17 days across 4 countries as Historic rally cars are first to cross Saudi Arabia

*Argentine rally stars Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta take inaugural win in Chevrolet

*109 year old LaFrance is first of its kind to complete the Trans-Arabian endurance adventure

*Belgians Ann Gillis and Filip Engelen capture Classic class win in Porsche 911 Targa

*HERO-ERA Competition Director Guy Woodcock says ‘there’s more to come in the next edition”

Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 17 Fujairah to Dubai – 412 KM

The Badawï Trail to the Last Oasis has reached its final destination, the cosmopolitan city of Dubai, 7500km since the start in Aqaba, Jordan 17 days ago. In that time four countries have been crossed, 23 regularities contested, 10 desert time controls conquered and 1 test driven, as well as a couple of rotations of the Jeddah Corniche Grand Prix circuit. There have been temperatures of 45 degrees, sand, rocks and even thunderstorms to deal with and despite, or perhaps in spite of that, of the 45 cars that began this journey, 43 have made the finish here in Dubai.

It has been a tremendous adventure, one that has had ups and downs for everyone and in the end, there can only be one winner. But before we delve into that particular detail there is the final day of rallying to discuss, as this was no processional finish, but a proper day on the tools, with 400 clicks to churn over on the trip, as well as two regularities and a final desert time control section to finish the competition with a flurry.

The first regularity wasn’t distinguished by great scenery, but there was the classic ‘long-way-around’ a triangle trick to catch out the unwary. It was also completed under grey sky, with rain threatening as we moved away from the first reg and onto the next, the heavens opened and the roads, so unused to such a heavy downpour, had rivers of water running across them, white with the flotsam and jetsam deposited on them. A long climb up Jebel Jais was the scene for the second regularity, and here a Chevy Chase was ensuing, with Tommy Dreelan and George Barrack chasing Jorge Perez Companc up the mountainside, in the battle for first place. Tommy and George needed a miracle to catch the Argentines, but there was always hope with the leading car’s gearbox problems, as it deposited oil behind it making the way to the top slippery for the car in second spot. There would be no breakdown though and no huge error, meaning that the positions of the top three remained the same.

Victory then goes to the Argentine pairing of Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta, taking the win by over 6 minutes in the end. The feat is all the more impressive with the crew nursing the gearbox problem with the Chevrolet Master Coupe for the latter stages of the rally and finishing without second and fourth gear. Jorge had this to say, “It was a really difficult rally, Jose did a brilliant job on the navigation. The car was great, but we had a lot of problems with temperature and the gearbox, but we are here, and we cannot believe we have won.”

As mentioned, Tommy Dreelan and George Barrack finished in second, with Tommy’s brother Mike, alongside navigator Bob Pybus taking third place, a job made all the more difficult as they had also suffered almost catastrophic gearbox problems in the Lagonda.

In the classic category the winner has been all but written in stone for a good part of the event, with the win going to Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis, their second major endurance rally win in the past 12 months, after achieving first place during last Novembers Lima to Cape Horn rally. They have been untouchable on most days, amassing just 6:22 of penalty across the entire competition, winning by nearly 8 minutes and topping the leader board overall. Navigator Ann had this to say, “It was a fantastic rally, I really really loved it and I’m happy to be here”.

Behind them were sailors Peter and Louise Morton in second place in the 1972 Rover P6, a car which looked more used to sedate UK roads of that period, but yet it proved to be a mirage, performing as well as the crew did in the desert.

Australians Bill and Kathy Gill finishing in third in their Mercedes Benz 350SLC putting in another superb performance across the Arabian Peninsula.

It has been a tremendous and ground-breaking rally, the first of its kind to pass through many of the countries in this part of the world, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as a place that until recent years has been largely off limits to Western tourism, let alone this sort of historic vehicle event. Through wonderful cooperation with local organisations and the associations of the countries themselves, it has happened. It even overcame the lawful boundaries over driving right-hand drive vehicles in the places that we have visited.

Of course, the competition has also been enjoyed by all involved. Like all events of this kind some are here to win and some just to achieve personal goals, getting to the end for many is achievement enough. A man who always relishes the competitive aspect of these rallies is HERO-ERA Competition Director and Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock, and he had this to say about his experience of the event, “It was bloody marvellous! A few hiccups but that’s what you get when you are being pioneers. We played it safe in a few areas to get the job done, but I think there is lots more to come from this region on the next edition.”

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