Classic Marathon 2018
The 27th Edition
Congratulations to all of the crews that took part and completed The 27th Classic Marathon
RESULTS ARE NOW FINAL
The overall winners of the Classic Marathon 2018 are:
1. Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan - Porsche 911
2. Daniel Gresly / Elise Whyte - Porsche 911 SWB
3. Marcus Anderson / Matthew Lymn Rose - Jaguar E-Type Series 1
FULL LIST OF COMPREHENSIVE RESULTS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE
After a hot day for the Scrutineering and Documentation, crews sat down to yesterday evening’s Welcome Buffet at the beachside Mythos Restaurant, part of the luxurious Divani Apollon Hotel, which hosted our pre-event activities. With a backdrop of the setting sun and with the waves almost literally lapping at their toes, Marathon entrants dined on fine local Greek cuisine as acquaintances old and new eagerly discussed the week ahead.
All crews made the start, although there were the usual last minute dramas. Through the help of local classic car enthusiasts and the hotel concierge, the Norwegian crews Agnete Segalstad and Ole Rasmus Robak were able to track down a new rotor arm for their Mercedes-Benz 500SL that was fitted by the HERO Maulden Garage mechanics during a late night session.
After some late night partying by early arrivals on the Friday night, most crews were in bed at a sensible hour ready to be up bright and early this morning to collect the first of the daily Routebooks from 08:01 in the hotel lobby.
It was then an easy 60-km drive north from Vouliagmeni on good roads to the official Startline of the Classic Marathon 2018 in Marathonas. Despite being close to the Athens, the Sunday morning traffic was relatively light and free flowing.
On arrival in Marathonas, cars were parked on display in the large public area close to the historic Marathon Race startline for excited locals to take photos while crews grabbed a drink in the nearby Kalliopitaki Café. We must thank the Municipality of Marathonas and our friends at PHILPA (the Antique Car Club of Greece) for all their help in arranging our start at this iconic venue.
At 10:01, the Mayor of Marathonas flagged away the Jaguar XK120 of Thomas Groot and Line Sandvik, the first of the 62 starters for the short drive to the first ‘autotest’ style slalom around the local Gymkhana arena close to the town. Fastest out of the blocks here were four crews who all shared a time of 1m23s.
A couple of surprises from this first test saw Mark and Sue Godfrey hit with a penalty for failing to stop-astride the finish, whilst another pre-event favourite crew of Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan were issued with a jump start penalty, clearly a little too eager to get a flying start to their event.
Suitably in the groove, the route took to the hills for the first regularity along the rugged coastline of the South Euboean Gulf. With four Timing Points and some tight twists and turns in 13 km’s, this testing first section has set the scene for our week in Greece but proved no problems for Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose in the Jaguar E-Type and Mark and Sue Godfrey in their MGB who shared the lowest penalties on 10 seconds.
After passing through the small seaside town of Agioi Apostoloi, some interesting back roads lead crews to a quick sprint round the circuit at a local motorcycle training academy circuit where Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lynn Rose once again lit up the timesheets with fastest time of 1m46s, two seconds clear of second placed Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley in their Porsche 911.
A brief motorway run then followed in order to bypass the largely industrial areas of this part of Greece and took us to lunch at the Tzivani Winery. Here a fine spread of Greek cuisine had been laid on by Chrissie and George Tzivani, whose family have been harvesting the grapes here since 1960. During the lunch break, crews took the opportunity to visit the on-site museum, housing a vast collection of winemaking tools but also boasts a unique assemblage of other artefacts from local rural life.
The HERO Mechanics seemed busy attending to a number of vehicles during the lunch halt, car five, Graham Plants and Neil Ripley getting a new wheel bearing fitted, whilst car seven, Peder and Cecilia Silfverhjelm in the beautiful Jaguar XK150S had a new ball joint.
After lunch, it was back on the motorway again across the immense plains of Thiva to the start of the next regularity in the hills above Mazi. This 12-km section, defined by Jogularity instructions saw top performances by Daniel Gresly and Elise Whyte in their Porsche 911. The descent from this regularity offered the first taste of Greek gravel and some care was needed due to winter road damage.
It was then on to the afternoon refreshments break at the Koukos Café in the sleepy town of Amfikleia, where the heavens opened and a thunderstorm passed through the mountainous terrain as temperatures plummeted from 31 degrees celsius to a chilly 15 degrees, bringing with it torrential rain which had not been predicted and caught many competitors off-guard as they scrabbled to put the hoods back on their cars. This coffee break was a welcome rest before the final regularity of the day. Starting from Polydrosos, this was an ‘Alpine Climb’ in true Classic Marathon tradition, which scaled a myriad of hairpin bends on the fir-clad northern flanks of Mount Parnassus – one of the highest and most sacred mountains in Greece. No less than five Timing Points were packed into 15 km’s so crews were not surprised to see the HERO marshals at regular intervals. Proving a fine performance and finishing their day in style was the Porsche 911 crew of Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan who took a stunning penalty of just a single second through the five timing points which not only gave them the best on Regularity but also propelled them into the lead of the rally on a total days penalty of 31 seconds.
Having passed over the summit, the route twisted its way down towards Amfissa and on to Delfi, where the Main Time Control was located at the entrance to the Museum and Archaeological Site – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, Guy Woodcock checked crews in after a relatively short (295-km) first day on the road. For those that wanted to, there was the opportunity to consult the Oracle, as well as marvel at the other historic buildings found here at Delfi, which the Greeks consider to be the navel of the world.
After this cultural interlude, everyone retired to the nearby Amalia Hotel for the overnight halt. Set on a hillside, the hotel affords panoramic views all the way down to the sea at Itea, but for many a more welcome site were the cold beers on offer at the hotel bar. Day One Results show that the early leaders are Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan, who collected their bespoke Best on Day awards (reviving a Marathon tradition of the past) at this evening’s dinner. They are closely followed by Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose who slipped to second on the final regularity having led for most of the day, with Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley in 3rd just a single second further afield.
Tomorrow promises to be a sterner test with ‘tortuous’ being one of the word used by the route planners to describe the 400-km route to Kalambaka, which contains no less than eight Regularity Sections and one Test.
Good Evening from the Amalia Hotel just outside Kalambaka and close to the world famous Monasteries of Meteora, which we will visit tomorrow morning.
The downpours of yesterday afternoon failed to dampen the spirits of the Marathon crews and there was a lively buzz in the hotel last night. Thankfully the skies cleared shortly after we arrived and we awoke this morning to more settled weather as we embarked on Day Two.
Overnight we were pleased to find out the local Philpa Car Club had assisted the Owens crew to find suitable help locally to get the Porsche 356 back on the road and they were able to rejoin the Rally later into Leg Two.
Leaving Delfi, a long descent took us to Amfissa – a busy little town, which played a major role during the Greek War of Independence (1821 to 1830). It was here that the first regularity of the day got under way. This twisted its way for 14 kms over the hills at Prosilio and saw two crews of John Abel/Niall Frost in the Sunbeam Tiger and Benno and Nina Britschgi in the Ford Mustang GT-390 being the most accurate over the three Timing Points taking only three seconds of penalties.
Shortly after the end of this section, crews had to watch out for the lumbering lorries servicing the nearby Bauxite mines en route to Regularity 2/2. We were now in traditional Acropolis Rally territory and the next regularity used the classic (albeit now tarmaced) roads around Inohori. Best here were three crews on just a single second penalty. The Godfrey’s in their MGB matching Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan along with the similar Porsche of Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley.
More rally heritage then followed as we took in the famous old Bralos Pass and its winding descent down to the morning rest halt in the Tempelis Hotel at Gorgopotamos (which means ‘The Rushing River’ in Greek). Crews seemed pleased to have a coffee halt and refreshment in the shaded garden of the Hotel.
Following the brief break here, we pressed onwards past the small spa town of Loutra Ypatis to the next regularity in the hills around the fine Monastery of Agathonas. This proved to be the first real challenge of the day with some interesting control locations catching out the unwary. At the top of the table, however, two crews of Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose and Klaus-Uwe Schaffrath/Andrew Duerden escaped with a mere single second penalty.
The morning session of Marathon Motoring was rounded off with a short sharp regularity at Kapsi, which featured just a single Timing Point and saw three crews clean, and a long climb to lunch in Karpenisi. While the town of Karpenisi itself is fairly unremarkable, the ‘greenness’ and beauty of surrounding countryside has earned this region the name – ‘Switzerland of Greece’. Our venue for lunch was the Montana Spa. This fine old hotel, sitting on the hillside above town, was a regular haunt for the Subaru World Rally team when they were testing for the Acropolis Rally.
The lead of the event had been cut to a single second at this mid-point and the afternoon looked set for a showdown between the top crews.
From lunch, it was a stiff climb to over 1800 metres as we passed the Velouchi Ski Centre and enjoyed a spectacular mountain vista on the subsequent descent down into the valley for the first afternoon regularity on the twisty roads around Vracha. The local authorities had kindly been out early this morning to sweep clear the roads from numerous fallen rocks during the spring snow melt. This section featured a challenging gravel triangle that tested navigators. Best were the all-female crew of Lisa Lankes and Catriona Rings in the Ford Escort RS2000 with just eight seconds of penalties beating second closest by a full two seconds.
Bends were something of a theme for the next hour or so as we tacked our way along and over a multitude of small ridges and the sight of some straighter roads after the next regularity was welcomed when we finally headed out of the hills to pick up fuel at Kallithiro.
It was a brief respite, however, as we were soon climbing again towards the beautiful Plastrias Lake. This is actually an artificial reservoir (one of the highest in Europe) formed by the flooding of this valley after the construction of a dam in the southwest corner in 1960.
A short but sweet 2.5km regularity along the old shoreline road needed some spirited driving and saw three crews topping the time sheets on zero penalties – a fine effort on such a demanding stretch of road. Straight after the end of this regularity, we enjoyed a few minutes breather after the long run from lunch at Plaz Lamperos, a quaint little restaurant right on the water’s edge.
Suitably rejuvenated, we then returned north through the small mountain towns of Mesenikolas and Morfovouni to the day’s final regularity at Fanari. This 19km section traced the edge of the hills and combined a bit of everything to keep drivers and navigators busy. Taking best time on this final regularity of the day were Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley.
A cross country run through a series of small towns and villages took us past the major conurbation of Trikala to the day’s test venue at the tight and twisty Meteora Race Park, where we were enthusiastically welcomed by a excited local crowd of spectators. After all the bends this afternoon, crews were well set for this final challenge with two crews sharing the top honours of best time on test award – Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose in the Jaguar E-Type and Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage in the Sunbeam Tiger.
A small drama for Car 5, Graham Plants and Neil Ripley in the Austin-Healey 100M which caught fire on the start line of the test was soon dealt with by fellow crews and marshals who raced to assist the pair and put the assumed electrical fire out.
All that the remained was a short run from there to the Amalia Hotel – a large hacienda style building set in 14 acres of greenery. After a long day on the road, the bar was the first port of call for most.
The Best on Day award goes to Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan in the Porsche 911 who have climbed to sixth overall with an excellent leg total of just 37 seconds.
It’s all change at the top...
Hello from Rio... Where we are staying in the shadow of the mighty Rio-Antirrio Bridge after another long, hot but very enjoyable day of Greek rallying. The combination of excellent weather (well mainly...), brilliant roads with almost no traffic and the amazing Greek hospitality is making this a Marathon to remember.
Yesterday evening, having dined on a hearty Greek buffet at the Amalia Hotel, activities moved poolside (and almost “in pool” for some...) and continued late into the evening.
Starting at 08:30 this morning, crews quickly reached the first scenic highlight of the day – the spectacular Monasteries of Meteora, made famous in the James Bond film – ‘For Your Eyes Only’. The name Meteora meaning ‘suspended in space’ is very apt as the monasteries are built atop the immense natural pillars that dominate the local area.
Extra time had been built into the schedule to allow for photo stops here before the route descended through Kastraki and Kalambaka to the first competitive motoring of the day with a short regularity on the other side of the valley. With just one timing point, this proved an easy start to the day with no less than 11 crews on zero penalties.
The next section through Ampelochori, however, was a longer and more challenging section. Four timing points in 16 km’s saw best times going to the Godfreys’ in their MGB, along with John Abel/Niall Frost and Tomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley who all shared seven penalty seconds. We then joined the Egnatia Motorway, which whisked us west through the northern Pindos Mountains by way of an impressive series of bridges and tunnels to the morning refreshments stop at the roadside Café Restaurant Papadopolous.
The top crews were busy swapping penalty totals from the opening two regularities and also trying to decide the exact amount of goats they had all met across the road just prior to the opening timing point of the day.
From here, crews tackled a superb 30-km regularity featuring a series of long twisting ascents and descents as we traced the route of the Arachthos valley – a popular destination for rafting and canoeing. With a short gravel section thrown in for good measure, it was not surprise there were no clean sheets here. Proving most adept were Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose and also Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan with six seconds over the four timing points.
The Arachthos River remained our companion as we headed south to the final morning regularity, which wended its way along the Vlacherna Ridge and offered fine views out towards the waters of the Amvrakikos Gulf. There were just two timing points here with David and Edward Liddell topping the timesheets in their Triumph TR4.
Our lunch halt today was in Arta or more specifically at the ‘Over the Hill’ café perched on the side of Peranthi Hill overlooking the city and the surrounding countryside. Here we saw many crews trying to cool their cars as much as possible as temperatures began to climb into the high 30’s.
Klaus-Uwe Schaffrath and Andrew Duerden were admitting to a small navigation error at a tricky gravel junction in regularity three which saw them claim a minute penalty at the third timing point.
After enjoying some local fare, we took a ‘lonely road’ road along the spine of Peranthi Hill, before returning to the valley to join the recently opened Motorway No. 5 to head south to the first regularity of the afternoon. This was an interesting 19-km affair featuring good driving roads across the hills at Ariada. The inclusion of a ‘hard to spot’ old road loop with two hairpins saw most crews dropping time. Best here were the leading pair of Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan with just four seconds of penalties. Daniel Gresley and Elise Whyte had a frustrating regularity when they took a turn slightly too early and found an event ‘NO’ board, giving them a 26 second penalty.
We then traced the shoreline of Lake Kastraki south to the busy city of Agrinio, famous as a centre for tobacco production until the late 20th Century. The hustle and bustle here came as a slight culture shock after the deserted mountain roads we have become used to. We were now headed for Lake Trichonida (the largest natural lake in Greece) but before we could enjoy an afternoon break on the water’s edge at the Kafe Ntougri, a short but sharp regularity at Paravola was on the cards and saw six crews clean the regularity. The heat was really beginning to soar now and the Time Control rest halt saw numerous competitors making the most of the lake to have a cooling swim.
After our brief lakeside sojourn, the day’s action was rounded off by a long and testing regularity starting just outside Thermo. This section essentially followed the course of the Evinos River and there were plenty of twists and turns along the way which saw a big change in the shape of the day’s leaderboard. Boasting five timing points in the 32 km’s, penalties were expected to be higher here and so it proved. Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley led the way on a very impressive eight seconds, two seconds ahead of Daniel Gresley and Elise Whyte.
Having surmounted this final challenge, we ended the day with a crossing of the mighty Rio-Antirrio Bridge. Officially called the ‘Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge’ and opened in 2004, this 2880 metre-long feat of engineering spans the Gulf of Corinth and is one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and is probably the longest of the fully suspended type. This crossing marked our arrival on the Peloponnese Peninsula. There will be more about this tomorrow but for now we enjoyed an easy run to the nearby waterfront Porto Rio Hotel & Casino, where once again there was a welcome beer or G&T waiting and the cooling waters of the pool to enjoy after another tough Marathon day.
Best on Day award has been handed to Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley in the Porsche 911 who have also taken the lead of the event with a very impressive leg total of just 37 seconds, a full 14 seconds better than anybody else. They now lead the event by ten seconds from Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose in the Jaguar E-Type.
Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan were unfortunate to lose the lead of the rally on the final regularity today when a small error in navigation at a tricky junction dropped them a minute and saw them drop to fifth overall.
Stephen and Thomas Owens’ event was set to become yet more woeful as they slipped their Porsche 356 off the road and had to wait to be pulled back on. Benno and Nina Britschgi have unfortunately slipped into a ditch on the final regularity section of the day and have been unable to complete the remainder of the route. The car is still being recovered so we will give more news when we have it.
The scorching heat has proved a major role in today’s outcome with many crews reporting to being very weary as they arrived at the Hotel this evening. Tomorrow will be an easier drive after two long, hot and challenging days in the saddle but there will still be six regularities and a test on the menu to keep crews busy plus the prospect of the mid event ‘Special Awards’ presentation to look forward to.
Well good evening from Kalamata, home of the world famous olives...
After two long and tiring days, the Classic Marathon crews had an easier drive today as we began our exploration of The Peloponnese. This is sometimes considered as the largest of the Greek islands even though it is essentially part of the mainland. Here everything is to generally more laid back with a predominantly rural way of life.
Historically the region is the ‘stuff of legends’. This is where the gods walked the earth at Olympia, where the Argonauts set sail in search of the Golden Fleece and where Hercules fought the Nemean lion. It is also a land of geographical variety with lofty, snowcapped mountains bisected by vast gorges giving way to sandy beaches and azure waters.
We started the day by using the motorway to bypass the busy port city of Patras, before turning south to head into the hills. The first 13-km regularity had a different flavour to those of the previous days as it traversed a network of small farm roads through rolling countryside. Four timing points had to be found and on time, which Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan did with the best score of two seconds.
This preceded a long slow climb to the morning rest halt at a super coffee shop in the quiet little village of Paos. Then it was quickly on to an allocated start regularity quickly and this was on more familiar terrain, featuring a hairpinned climb and descent. Best performance at the two timing points were Daniel Gresly/Elise Whyte matching Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan on just two seconds.
A longer section was next up, which twisted its way past Limni Ladona before climbing over the hills to Lagkadia. This was a longer section at nearly 20 km’s and boasted four timing points. Proving themselves to be the most accurate here were two crews of Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan and also David and Edward Liddell who took just four seconds each.
Lagkadia is a busy little mountain town with distinctive stone buildings. In fact, it is famous throughout Greece for its traditional craftsmen (called pelekanoi), who were responsible for the building of houses all over the Peloponnese Peninsula.
Our lunch halt today saw us welcomed by Kostas and his family at the roadside Taverna To Lathos with a hearty traditional meal on offer. This set us up well as it was straight into the action with an allocated start for the next Regularity which passed through a number of traditional villages. Crews were a little surprised to find timing points in the slower village sections with a number recording early penalties. Topping the timesheets were John Abel/Niall Frost in the Tiger.
The Porsche drivers were continuing to show concern for their tyre situation with chunks of rubber flicking off the tyres in the hot conditions. Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan managed to find a garage on the route and had two new tyres fitted and balanced for a very fair price, whilst Thomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley were busy using the assistance of the HERO Mechanics at lunch to get new tyres fitted onto wheels in order to be fitted to the Porsche.
The landscape in these parts is reminiscent of southern Italy and it was a very pleasant drive on good roads to the next regularity, south of Andritsaina. This was a relatively simple affair and that showed in the results with Thomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley dropping just four seconds.
Having enjoyed a few hours of mountain roads, we descended to the flat lands as we made for the afternoon refreshments break at the Restaurant Ithomi, picturesquely situated in a small village on the southern slopes of Mount Ithome and overlooking the ruins of Ancient Messini.
The remains of this vast ancient city (founded in 371 BC) are as extensive as those of Olympia and Epidavros, yet less well known. The site, still undergoing excavation, comprises a large theatre, an agora (marketplace), a vast Sanctuary of Asclepius and the most intact and impressive of all Ancient Greek stadiums.
Following this brief taste of ancient culture, we got back behind the wheel for a final regularity that wended its way through the many olive groves that abound in these parts. These are home to the famous Kalamata Olives, well known throughout the world. Some narrow twisty roads on this section and three timing points in 13 km’s kept crews on their toes. Top of the pile were Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose matching Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan on two seconds to seal a great day for both of these crews with minimal penalties.
Kalamata, our destination this evening, is built on the site of ancient Farai and is the second most populous city of the Peloponnese Peninsula. It has a very modern appearance as many of the historic buildings were sadly destroyed during an earthquake which hit the region in September 1986.
Our arrival here was marked with an enjoyable 2-lap test around the local kart circuit, situated right by the seaside, before an easy drive to our base for the next two nights at the Filoxenia Resort. Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose matched Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan to take top honours on the timesheet on this fast flowing circuit. The Chevrolet Camaro of Dominik Lingg/Kaspar Wittwer were unfortunate enough to suffer a spin on their second lap and ending up needing the Marshal’s assistance when the starter motor wouldn’t fire the car back up. They completed the test and have returned to the Hotel.
Tonight is our traditional mid-event ‘Special Awards’ presentation. Attendance at this good humoured event is, of course, compulsory...!! More new on this tomorrow. In the meantime...
The overall lead has been reigned in again over today to just four seconds with three days of competition remaining. The Best on Day award was presented to the second overall pairing of Marcus Anderson/Mattew Lymn Rose which demonstrated what a positive day it had been for the pair.
Klaus-Uwe Schaffrath/Andrew Duerden showed to be best improvers, jumping up four places during the day with a very good low penalty total compared to the crews around them.
We’re hearing that the MGB crew of Chris Chapman and David Broome are having to retire from the event this evening due to a small incident in the final Regularity. The crew are fine and well here at Kalamata.
After last night’s ‘Special Awards’ presentation and with the Filoxenia Hotel being all-inclusive, some bleary eyed crews were noticed this morning at breakfast. Clerk of the Course, Bob Rutherford and Deputy Clerk of the Course, Guy Woodcock had also dried out from their impromptu visit to the hotel pool.
We sadly lost early event leaders overnight, when Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan withdrew with a clutch arm failure. This summer is proving to be a frustrating for the pairing and surely their luck will change soon.
John Abel and Niall Frost worked hard through last evening to try multiple fixes to solve their misfire and with the help of HERO Mechanics the crew were able to leave the Hotel to start their day on time.
Anyway, moving on to Day Five where our backdrop for most of the route has been the wild and rugged Mani Peninsula. This remote, mountainous and often windswept region peppered with small tower studded villages has been compared to the western regions of Scotland or Ireland and has something of an ‘end of the world’ feel to it.
Leaving Kalamata, the route followed the coast before diving inland for two short mountainous loops which formed the basis for the day’s first two regularities. On the first, there were four timing points in 17 km’s and on the second shorter section, there were a further three. Best performance over these two opening sections were Paul Crosby/Andy Pullan with nine seconds.
The morning time control and drinks stop was in one of the small cafes, dotted along the waterfront in the picturesque fishing village of Agios Nikolaos.
Having eased crews into the day up to this point, the ‘wick was turned up’ with a testing third regularity in the hills. This featured a final timing point on a small gravel loop after 11 km’s of sinuous tarmac. Topping the timesheets were Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose with just a single second.
We then passed through the unassuming town of Areopoli, which is well known to all Greeks – as it is where that the Greek War of Independence started in March 1821. Areopoli marked our entry into the ‘Deep Mani’, where the coastline became more rugged.
We had one final regularity section to round off the morning action. This explored a dense network of small country lanes before it descended the dramatic bluff of Cavo Grosso to the pretty seaside village of Gerolimenas. This section proved decisive as rally leaders Tomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley missed a junction incurring a one minute maximum penalty and plummeted to fourth overall. Jean-Pierre and Mireille Demierre posted the best performance for their first time on the event scoring a very impressive single second penalty.
Next on our tourist itinerary was picture postcard Vathia. Perched high above the sea, this village sprouts a forest of tower houses. After stopping for photos here, it was then time for lunch which was hosted at the beautiful Marmari Paradise Resort, clinging to the hillside overlooking two sandy coves.
The main story at lunch was the mix up in the top five overall and the come back of Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan who were up to second, just 15 seconds from the leading pair.
The afternoon section from Marmari started with a stiff climb away from the coast offering stunning vistas and the next hour was generally a feast for the eyes as we journeyed along the ‘sunward coast’, where the mountains drop dramatically straight down into the sea.
Crews almost forgot that they were on a competitive rally, however the next regularity provided us a timely reminder as it climbed into the hills from the coast at Skoutari. Two challenging points among the four that were spread through the 13 km’s resulted in higher scores with the lowest penalties being posted by once again by Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan with a total of seven seconds, shaving a further three seconds from rally leaders Anderson/Lymn Rose.
More challenges were in store on the following section at Polovitsa with further navigational trials for crews to ‘enjoy’. Best yet again were Crosby/Pullan with eight seconds.
Leaving this section we entered Laconia – the homeland of the fierce Spartans. Battles of a different kind were witnessed today between Classic Marathon crews with two kart circuits tests in quick succession before the day’s rallying ends at the lovely Xenia Restaurant perched on the hillside above the modern village of Mystras.
The first test was a standard ‘two-lapper’ while the second had a different flavour featuring a slalom section near the finish. Anderson/Lymn Rose were victors over the two tests beating all other crews by four seconds.
The reason for finishing at the Xenia Restaurant was to allow crews the chance to visit the breathtaking medieval Mystras Ruins – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mystras was founded in the 13th Century, during the Frankish occupation of the Peloponnese, by William of Villehardouin who built a fortress, a palace and surrounding walls. This once mighty city boasted over 2000 houses and a population of over 25,000 before it was abandoned in 1832.
Those crews that wanted to were able to enjoy an interesting hour or so walking among the well preserved buildings and admiring the fine frescos. Then the drive from Mystras back to Kalamata was a spectacular one over the serpentine Langada Pass.
After another long day behind the wheel, the hotel pool and all-inclusive bar have been busy this evening.
Best on day has been awarded to a crew that have been in a league of their own today and stormed through the regularities with just 32 seconds of penalties, almost half that of any other crew.
The battle at the top has truly heated up today with just four seconds splitting the top two crews as we head into the penultimate day.
Hello from Nafplio...
While Wednesday evening had been animated, yesterday’s at the Filoxenia Resort was a chilled out vibe with people cooling in the pool and then enjoying a leisurely meal and drinks in the bar. Even mechanics had little to do?
Moving on to Day Six then while yesterday the ‘Coast’ had featured heavily, the theme for our drive to Nafplio today was ‘Alpine’ with the route climbing above the tree line to the high plateaus, which were still snow covered on the March route survey. In between, however, a large variety of landscapes were on offer.
Before we ascended into the hills, the day got under way with a return to the Kalamata kart circuit for a quick blast to warm up engines and drivers. Following the current form guide, the battle for top spot was between Anderson and Crosby with the E Type driver emerging on top.
Then it was a long climb up from the coast through an impressive gorge to the first regularity, which scaled the Taygetos Ridge at Neochori. This was an involving 23- km drive with a particularly hair-raising descent to the finish. Over the four timing points, the lowest total was just seconds which was the second overall pairing of Crosby/Pullan bringing the overall gap between first and second ever closer.
By the end of this section, we were almost back at Mystras but we quickly turned north for a short but technical second section through Koniditsa. This included a short gravel ‘loop’ to the second timing point but by now nearly all crews knew to be looking for these. Best penalty on the section with just a single second was the E Type who claimed a precious second back on the charging Porsche behind.
The morning halt was in a small family run roadside cafe at Ardames. This preceded a tough allocated start regularity exploring the Skiritida Forest. In days gone by, these dark woods were the ancestral home to the Skirites, who were considered to be elite soldiers. Elite navigation was the order of the day for Marathon crews with some challenging timing points in the 23 km’s. Here xAnderson/Lymn Rose showed their skills with a best penalty of 19 seconds whilst other notable crews took a maximum minute penalty at one timing point.
Crossing the main Corinth to Kalamata motorway and following the old road as it climbed and descended a small pass, we arrived in the town of Megalopoli – which is far less grand than its name suggests. All that then remained was a twisty regularity through Vangos with three timing points. This was an easier affair and de Vargas Machuca/Powley topped the time sheets. From here, we embarked on a circuitous route to the lunch halt at the Agroktima Papakia. This is a local 260 acre farm park, home to all manner of fauna including such exotic creatures as Emus... Lunch was served in the on-site taverna, whose walls were adorned with a variety of exhibits dating back to 1700.
The main excitement at lunch was from regularity three which will always be remembered for the picnic area. The overall lead had switched hands and it was Crosby/Pullan who lead the event for the first time after their mammoth fightback through the past six days.
From lunch, we completed the ‘Megalopoli Circuit’ by passing the End of Regularity 6/4 and were soon at the start of the first afternoon regularity, which was a long ‘Alpine’ climb through the Chalikiou Forest. The roads here are reminiscent of those in the Ardeche and Cevennes regions of southern France and so regular rallyists knew what to expect... Five timing points in 24 km’s kept the pressure on and Anderson/Lymn Rose excelled in taking just nine seconds of penalties.
Reaching the high plateau, we skirted the growing tourist hub of Vytina (where fuel is available off route) and climbed ever higher to pass the Mainalo Ski Centre – one of the oldest in Greece, dating back to 1965. Keeping with the ‘Alpine’ theme, we stopped for afternoon refreshments at the Chalet Mainalon – a lovely wooden chalet.
News was reaching us that once again the lead had changed with Anderson/Lymn Rose taking the top spot.
We then took the motorway for a short run north and within half an hour, the scenery had changed totally and more stereotypical Greek landscape was the backdrop for the final long regularity across a low range of scrubby hills ringed by the ever present olive groves to the coast at Nea Kios. Although the character of this section was different to Regularity 6/5, what was the same were the statistics for those sports fans amongst us – five timing points in 24 km’s. Rounding off a good day, best penalties were posted by Anderson/Lymn Rose on seven seconds, also being matched by the Godfrey’s pairing.
A short drive along the seafront brought us to our second test of the day at Memphis Kart – a short but flowing circuit for all to enjoy... Obviously enjoying it the most were Anderson/Lymn Rose beating de Vargas Machuca/Powley by two seconds.
This final competitive action was located just a stone’s throw from our overnight halt at the Amalia Hotel – a neoclassical building set in beautiful gardens just outside the elegant port of Nafplio. As has become the norm this week, the first port of call was the welcoming pool in which to cool off after a tough day on the road.
The Best on Day Award this evening has been awarded to Roger Tushingham and Amy Henchoz who had a stellar day taking just 1 minute 41 seconds of penalties.
The overall lead has extended to 18 seconds with the excellent form shown by Anderson/Lymn Rose this afternoon and with one day remaining, they look very confident to keep their cool and claim the top spot.
Good Evening from Vouliagmeni and the Divani Apollon Hotel, where we started just over a week ago. As everyone prepares for this evening’s Gala Prizegiving, here is the final event report…
We spent the morning of the final day exploring the lesser known roads of the Argolida Peninsula before finally leaving the Peloponnese to return to the ‘mainland’ for the run back to Athens.
It was quickly into the action with two busy regularities within minutes of leaving the hotel. The first explored the network of roads surrounding the Moni Karakala monastery while the second took to the hills through a classic arid Greek landscape dotted with occasional orange and olive trees with a few of the now customary ‘gravel’ loops to add some flavour. It was here that the rally was turned on its head, a tricky to find track just after a more inviting ‘dead end’ caught out many including the rally leaders. Then, with their tripmeter running out of synch, they missed the final tricky junction onto a very indistinct track just before the main road.
Gresly and Whyte also picked up big penalties on this regularity to leave Crosby and Pullan with a big lead on arrival at an early rest halt at Epidavrus, where the Time Control was located in the Xenia Restaurant. For those who wished to, time was allowed for a short visit to the Archaeological Site. The most famous attraction here is the mighty Amphitheatre, one of the best-preserved Classical Greek structures in existence. Renowned for its symmetry and incredible acoustics, the 14,000 capacity theatre hosts performances of ancient Greek drama during the summer months.
Leaving Epidavrus, we passed through the busy little town of Lygourio, before starting the next regularity across the hills at Arachneo. This 23-km section featured four timing points and a couple of navigational twists to keep crews on their toes. It was good to see Cliff England and Peter Rushforth in their well-travelled MGB topping the timesheets here.
More peaceful rural roads and traditional villages then followed en route to the final short morning regularity, which was a drivers’ section featuring a twisty section followed by a short gravel stretch through the local olive groves. Penalties were expected to be low here and so it proved with the leading crews picking up just a handful of seconds.
From the end of this regularity, it was a short drive to Corinth. We took the ‘back way’ to the Corinth Canal passing through the 'café area' where crews were able to park up and walk the short distance to get a photo from the bridge of this engineering marvel.
The idea for a canal here was first proposed in classical times and a failed effort was even attempted in the 1st Century BC. However, it took until 1881 before construction work on a canal actually began.
Heading north from the canal, we bypassed the busy seaside resort of Loutraki, home of the Acropolis Rally in recent times, to reach the lunch halt at the Taverna Edem.
From lunch, we crossed the hills to reach the northern coast for a scenic run along the Alkyonides Gulf to Egirousa and the start of the final long regularity, with no less than seven timing points, back across the hills to Megara. With limited navigational challenges, this section was all about timekeeping and concentration. Results showed that the leading Porsche duo were taking no chances with Crosby / Pullan just edging out Gresly / Whyte by 3 seconds.
With that final section over, the navigators could breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the final test at the Megara karting circuit. Overcoming earlier dramas, Anderson and Lymn Rose claimed a final test victory by 1 second from Crosby and Pullan.
A Time Control was located in the Circuit Café in order to collect the all-important data before crews embarked on the long run along the coast, through Athens, to Vouliagmeni. The official finish was back where we started over a week ago, in front of the Divani Apollon Hotel and all finishers were greeted in true HERO style at the Finish Arch.
Our “marathon race” from Marathonas to Athens has been somewhat longer than 42 kilometres and arriving at the finish, every crew acknowledged that it had been a tough but very enjoyable challenge. Final results show that the ‘gold medal’ winning drive was performed by Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan in their familiar green Porsche 911. After problems on Day One, they fought back through the week to take victory by nearly two minutes from Daniel Gresly and Elise Whyte, similarly Porsche mounted. A podium finish was some consolation for Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose after a fraught final day.