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Per Ardua Ad Infinitum 2024 Preview

*A Firecracker of a Rally to Usher in the 2024 Season

Per Ardua Ad Infinitum 2024 Preview

In just five days time, Per Ardua ad Infinitum will get HERO-ERA’s rallying year off to a flying start, with an intense three-legged competition in Britain’s rallying heartland. ‘Through Endless Adversity’ is the strapline, but ‘always take the hard way’ is what the event's moniker roughly translates as, and this is why competitors come, to test themselves and their machines against the rally. Against the road. Against the fatigue of three taxing Legs behind the wheel and the map. From sunrise and into the dark, this is 36 hours of four-wheeled persecution, and it is delicious.

The illegitimate son of the Three Legs of Man and Rally of the Tests, Per Ardua is something familiar, but different. The regularities are punishing in their complexity, and the tests are exhilarating, but the drivers and navigators are performing on a knife edge and the pace is relentless. No let up, no time to relax, no room for error.

An intoxicating mix of elements, and a concoction that few rallyists could resist and this year the special ingredient is the location. Based in the epicentre of Britain’s national and world championship rallying in Wales, 400 miles will begin and end at the famous Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells and the demanding route will spend much time on Epynt, a name that provokes goosebumps on those in the know. These are hallowed tracks indeed, and as we stand on the shoulders of giants, all will be doing their utmost to emulate their heroes of years gone by.

Of those in the mix any number could take glory, with Clerk of the Course and Route Planner Guy Woodcock declaring that the field is as competitive as any as he has seen in his long tenure with the sport. Indeed, he admits that it was way back in 1980 (!) that his love affair with Epynt began, with his first competitive outing in the famous training area. He won’t be as easily drawn on who he thinks will take the win though, but the bookie's favourite must be Dan Willan and Niall Frost, last year’s Three Legs of Man and RAC Rally of the Tests champions. They are the top seeds and carry the number one plate for the competition.

Trying hard to beat them will be a chasing pack that includes long-time sparring partners Paul Dyas and Martyn Taylor, with Mr Dyas ditching his ‘fifty shades of grey’ Volvo for a - new to him - Volvo PV544, matching the car that has taken Willan and Frost to so much success. If you can’t beat them, join them hey Paul! Don’t count out Paul Crosby either, with former Golden Roamer Champion Pete Johnson onboard there is a wealth of experience between them, as well as Paul’s affinity with his stalwart 911 and his usual determination.

In fact, anyone in the top ten has the ability to win the event if things go right. Could Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan return to winning ways? Or could Paul’s grandson Oli Waldock taste success, who with driver John King is seeded two places higher than his grandfather with the number five plate? Or perhaps former stage rally champion Rikki Proffit, who is no stranger to Epynt, will offer up a challenge for the podium. He has certainly got a safe pair of hands in the maps seat, with Charlotte Ryall sitting with him, and if the pair gel who knows what might happen.

It is a salivating prospect, and even more so with the route that is on offer. “We’re going into the heartland of road rallying” says Guy Woodcock, “Beginning and ending at the Metropole Hotel, or should I say infamous Metropole!” I can tell from his tone that he’s excited, which, when you’ve been around the sport as long as Guy, is a good sign. “We’ve made it all pretty compact and are utilising the military areas as best we can, although there are a few restrictions with training exercises going on. We are using some iconic routes though, like Abergwesyn and I’m hopeful that the weather will get involved and add an extra element to the event.” For anyone with memories of last time LeJog went through Abergwesyn, that sentiment will either leave them excited or full of terrible memories of the river that cascaded down the road at 3am and indeed sank one poor Mini.

What else can Guy tell us though, without giving too much away? “Well, there are 20 tests planned, with 12 on Epynt, as well as an hour of four challenging night-time TC sections on different surfaces.” In fact, Guy sees Leg Two, which largely takes place on Epynt under cover of night as the one that could make or break people’s chances on the rally. It’s certainly the Leg he is most looking forward to, and he even considered bringing out the old red Escort as the course car for this one. Thankfully, he has seen sense with that idea.

Who could blame him though, as this rally is going to offer up plenty of driving excitement, in amongst all of the difficulties. The components are there for a classic and a competition that could be one of the closest all year. If all of the elements combine, whoever does walk away with a trophy will be fully deserving of the congratulations of their peers, for it will be a hard-won victory. Per Ardua ad Infinitum, always take the hard way, for therein are the greatest rewards.

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