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Syd Stelvio, London to Lisbon Day 10 – Alcobaca to Lisboa – 177km

Syd Stelvio, London to Lisbon Day 10 – Alcobaca to Lisboa – 177km

The final day of the rally was heralded by gorgeous spring sunshine, and it didn’t take long for the temperature to rise. There was a buzz in the makeshift paddock outside last night’s hotel, as those first away on the road waited to check out at the time control. The excitement of the final day or the thought of the finish just down the road, whatever it was the atmosphere was palpable.

There wasn’t excitement in all corners of the camp though, positioned in various quiet corners of the car park those with more on their mind went through their pre-rally rituals quietly. Graham Platts fastidiously cleaned his windscreen, whilst Ken Binstead attempted to get his mind on the job. It was a big day for these two, a maiden victory for Graham and Neil, or a fairy-tale ending for the Binstead’s. Healey vs Healey, but with the Baines waiting to hoover up the scraps if the pressure got too great for either crew.

There were three regularities to contend today, as well as two tests and whilst the route was only 177 km, with the machines so close on the time sheets it wouldn’t take much for the balance of power to swing either way.

After the first regularity it was still advantage Healey number 3, gaining another second in hand, but then it was time for the two tests and Ken, with his more powerful machine could smell blood. The marshals at the test start commented on just how focussed and revved up for the challenge he was, and after the first circulation of the Kiro Karting track, he had pulled back some time, and each machine went into the second test equal on time.

Ken and Sarah went first, out of the blocks like a scalded cat and pushing for every spare second, but the line between success and failure is a fine one and on one of the tight 180-degree bends first the back went, and then the front. The potential spin was caught, but the time had been lost and it was advantage Platts and Ripley again.

Two regs to sort it all out, two more opportunities to take victory and the cars went at it. The Mini was out of it by this time, but they were on for a solid third, a great result considering the time lost earlier in the event. The two out front though traded seconds, a gain here, a loss there, as tight as you like. Of course, neither would know what the other was doing, all they could do was be as accurate as possible over the final miles, and then, wait.

By the time Lisbon appeared the rain had returned, and the finish line was a soggy affair, a fitting conclusion to a rally that had suffered unprecedented unseasonable weather. By now the times were in, and the two crews had equalled each other over the final two regularities of the event. This meant that Healey number 3, the 100M of Graham Platts and Neil Ripley had triumphed, by just three seconds against their great rivals, Ken and Sarah Binstead. A titanic battle had gone down to the wire and the rally had erupted into a fearsome finish, after it looked for so long to be the 911 of Crosby and Johnson that would win.

For the first two cars home to be separated by just 3 seconds, after 2800kms is remarkable, and even more so considering that on day 5 it looked like the Binstead’s might well be out. But they kept on going and pushed the winners all the way. A huge applause though for all of the competitors, all of whom have made this rally a wonderful adventure from the off, and, as well as them a massive thank you to the travelling marshals who have suffered in the rain and the snow, just to enable us all to go rallying.

The final congratulations must go to Graham and Neil after a tremendous performance, under the most intense of pressure. They were supreme and are worthy winners of a memorable competition. To them the spoils, and until the next time we chance to meet,



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