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The 14th Flying Scotsman | 14-16 April 2024 - Preview

*Premier ‘Vintage Only’ rally to lead an Historic path to Gleneagles

*Multiple top crews ready to fight for glory

The 14th Flying Scotsman | 14-16 April 2024 - Preview

As Vintage Regularity Rallies go, the Flying Scotsman is the cream of the crop, the big one that leading European rally crews eagerly enter, then travel from around the world to compete in.

The 14th edition of the Flying Scotsman will be no exception. Entries will arrive from as far as Australia, the USA, the Bahamas and most countries in Europe, to motor the 600-mile route from outside the ancient Roman walls of Chester to finish to the sounds of the piper at the legendary and elegant Scottish Gleneagles Hotel.

Along the way they will compete in 15 tests and 16 regularities over three legs, the first from Chester along the great driving roads of the Yorkshire Dales, then northwards towards the tranquil Lake District, the land of the poets. The second leg will take crews through the Scottish Lowlands to the picturesque setting of Loch Lomond for the night halt, a scene made even more perfect by the addition of sixty Vintage cars silhouetting the landscape.

The rally brings together friends old and allows for acquaintances new, as they revel in their time machines that date from 1924 to as new as 1947, all with their own histories. The owners will exchange their stories of the day, some will be from the competition, others from the sheer pleasure of exercising their vintage vehicles over such great driving roads.

There will be some ardent competitors amongst the crews, rivals who although they would stop to help their friends if they were in difficulty, will certainly be aiming for a podium which would mean Flying Scotsman glory, a massive feather in the tartan bonnet.

The team of William Medcalf and Andy Pullan have not been on the entry list since their 2022 win. Andy took the HERO-ERA oath a couple of years ago and jumped over the fence to take on a senior competition role with HERO-ERA and is Joint Deputy Clerk of the Course alongside Andy Darlington on the 2024 Flying Scotsman, both reporting to Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock. Andy’s winning Vintage experience is woven into the event along with Andy Darlington’s expertise, so crews can expect a challenging but exciting rally.

A trio of teams stand out as potential podium sitters. The same three that battled for the top places last year are back for more tartan glory. Paul Crosby and Ali Procter won in 2017 and again last year in their potent 1939 MG TB Supercharged and start as favourites with Paul Dyas hot on their saddlebags. Paul’s 1937 Bentley Derby Special was second in 2023 navigated by Martyn Taylor, but this time hot shot navigator and multi-RAC Rally of the Tests winner Mark Appleton will be with Paul for a tilt at one place higher on the rostrum.

Paul Dyas and Martyn Taylor epitomised the competition last year, but also the camaraderie amongst the crews, as they stopped to help Paul Crosby when his MG suffered a bad misfire, lending them a coil which allowed them to get back into the rally and win! Ali Procter and Paul Crosby did thank the Bentley boys on the podium later.

There is also a distinct possibility that the crew who have three third-place podiums to their credit on Flying Scotsman, could just reach the top step this time. Theo Hunt and James Galliver are not just super competitive but also highly entertaining as they fling their 1933 Frazer Nash Replica TT around. Also in the running will be Theo’s father Martin Hunt, who along with Robert Mannix, finished second in 2022 in their rapid and sweet-sounding 1937 Frazer Nash BMW 328, so a family feud in the Highlands is always possible.

There is another winning combination, this time from Belgium, Ann Gillis and Filip Engelen who are in their 1926 Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans. They have won in New Zealand, South America and the Badawi Trail in the Middle East, so why not in Scotland after their previous efforts in their Invicta?

The 2024 Flying Scotsman entry is littered with fabulous Vintage machinery. Belgians Renaat Declerck and Niels Bollen are in their 1930 Bugatti 44 and Nigel Dowding and Mary Antcliff, who starred on the Temple Rally a few years ago, are in their 1929 Riley Brooklands. Michael Power and Rosalind Wild will be sitting pretty in their 1929 Rolls Royce 20-25, a grand sight on the country lanes to which the car is accustomed.

It is always good to see the Talbots out on event – deceptively quick and capable of a good result. There are five out on the Flying Scotsman, two of them with the Boland family, the Diarmaid Bolan 105 AV being navigated by experienced medal winner and football commentator Andy Ballantyne.

Whilst this Vintage-only rally may be a highland fling for some, for others there is valuable practice to be had and places on the leaderboard to chase.

Irishman Tommy Dreelan will have his daughter Gemma alongside him navigating as he warms up for the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in his 1928 Bentley Speed 6, whilst former HERO-ERA Cup Champion Stephen Owens will have regular navigator Nick Bloxham with him in their quest for a top-five finish in the fabulous Jaguar SS100.

Following a great result in 2023 with fifth place overall, Belgian Kurt Vanderspinnen and multi-LeJog Gold medallist Iain Tullie reunite in the 1928 Lea Francis Hyper to try and rasp their way up the order in the small but deft machine. The same will apply to John Lomas who has former Golden Roamer winner Pete Johnson navigating, such is Pete’s skill that he can make the difference.

The weather is a big variable, as soon as the sun shines the hoods come down, those who have permanent open cockpits have to wrap and waterproof up for the worst conditions as the Flying Scotsman has experienced snow, sleet, rain and sunshine all in one day on previous events.  So what advice does previous winner and now Senior Events Manager at HERO-ERA, Andy Pullan, have for competitors on this fabulous journey from Chester to Gleneagles?

Andy; “First of all, we give everyone a waterproof road book, that's very useful. For my tips, my mindset would be to keep the timecard dry. You can get an A4 cover that keeps it as waterproof as possible, but it is important to try and keep your timecard as dry as possible.

“You've got to wrap up as the temperature is a big thing. You have to have lots of layers and really think about what you're going to wear, when it rains or if it hails, you need protection to cover as much of your face as you can. We had lots of hail a few years and that's pretty painful. A few people used clear protective glasses to help with spray and things coming up from the road, so they can be useful too.

“Although some Vintage cars are really big, the cockpits tend to be really small. So it's about trying to keep everything as simple as you can in the car. You have one or two clocks, but be efficient with where you have your pens and pencils and your pencil case. Don't overcomplicate things.

“For me, the Flying Scotsman stands for a lot of fun. It is ace to be out in Vintage cars, there are not many events that are put on purely for Vintage cars, but The Flying Scotsman does exactly that. It’s an absolute spectacle, a great event to be part of because there's such a wonderful collection of cars around you the whole time.

“As an event, it really relies on all three parts, more so than probably most of the events that we run. You need to have a quick car that is agile and nimble, especially for the more twisty tests. You've got to have a driver who drives it well and we're very lucky to have an incredibly high-quality field of drivers who, year after year, really push the limits of the event. Then you've got the Navigator. It's one of our red events, so it is challenging navigation in places and there's lots of map work to do, but the cream always rises to the top. So it's a really good all-round event that tests those three elements for the crew.

“The highlights for 2024? There's going to be quite an intense start to the rally, we get into the first test just five miles from the start. Even before coffee, there're four tests and a regularity! So it’s a really good ‘chuck you straight into the event’ kind of mix.

“Then we break up the journey heading north, and in the afternoon we are into the Trough of Bowland with really nice landscapes and lots of rolling countryside. As we keep going north, the scenery just keeps getting better and better. We pass through the Lake District and some wonderfully quiet corners of Scotland, north of Dumfries and around the forest of Ae. There're just no people, so it's really going to provide great motoring for Vintage cars.

“Once we're up in Scotland north of Glasgow there are some real highlights such as Rest and be Thankful Hillclimb in Glen Croe, which dates back to 1906 when it was first used for motorsport, so a great place to be, I am just keeping my fingers crossed that the weather's going to play ball with us!”

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