Who said that
weather in spain is all sunshine and Sangria? CCHMSC member
John Stuart felt right at home up in the mountains around Loret de Mar
as the snow came down. He thought he had left it behind in the UK !
Car of choice
stops to clear the windscreen
Oops - keep your
south for the coast
Brava - 13 & 14 March
Story John Stuart
Peter Collier (Left) and John Stuart
(with shades) collect their Autobianchi
last minute entry saw club member John Stuart sitting on the start ramp
of the Rally Costa Brava at the wheel of a hired Autobianchi A112
Abarth with Peter Collier navigating. The Rally Costa Brava (RCB) is
several events in one and is a round of the FIA European Historic Stage
Rally Championship and a round of the FIA European Regularity
Championship as well as several Spanish championships.
were one of
24 crews entered in the FIA Regularity class running at the tail of the
field. The rally is run over 12 stages on closed public roads with 4
stages on Friday night and 8 on the Saturday
The cut off date for cars
eligible for historic in the FIA stage championship is 1990 so the
entry included several Lancia Delta Integrales, Lancia 037s, Sierra
Cosworths and of course numerous Porsche 911s of varying vintage.
cars lined up on the seafront in Lloret de Mar in warm sunshine for the
5pm start before heading north to the stages near Girona. For the later
crews like us, all would be run in the dark. There were many spectators
out cheering on their favourites and they remained in place for our
passing. I was really pleased with the handling of the A112 which
turned in so much better than my A40. This was my first competition in
a left hand drive car and I had no problem with this apart from pulling
off the gear lever knob in the second stage which may have been related
to inexperience! This was a sphere
and trying to find the
right way up to refit it was not easy in my gloved hand. We
enjoyed the twisty stages and finished the night with no real incident
at parc ferme in Girona.
Saturday dawned grey and
wet - and unseasonably cold, but even so there were a good number of
spectators at the restart. Today’s stages were west of Girona
and included some higher ground. There was light rain to start with,
then fog and then heavy rain. The highest stage,
Espinelves-Collsaplana, 23km long, was run twice and by the second run
the heavy rain had turned to sleet and ultimately heavy snow the higher
we got. Several cars were in ditches as conditions became very Monte
Carlo like. Snow was piling up on the windscreen and the wipers could
barely cope but the car handled brilliantly on its narrow road tyres.
We passed several cars on less suitable rubber and I was quite enjoying
the conditions as we headed downhill again.
after a few miles, something was wrong with the engine, there was
absolutely no power. Initially I feared head gasket problems but then
suspected water in the ignition system. Fortunately the road by now was
generally level or slightly downhill so we could keep going but at not
much more than walking pace. Then we came to an uphill section and it
was obvious we would not make it. We pulled off at one of the many
radio points thinking this to be the end of our rally. I expected the
engine to die but strangely, and happily, after a few seconds it seemed
to rev freely so off we set up the hill - and the car made it, albeit
not firing absolutely cleanly.
Most spectators had
wisely retreated to their cars but a few hardy
’snowmen’ were to be seen. Conditions eased to wet
snow then sleet as we dropped down to the valley and we finished the
stage albeit with massive penalties. At the next garage, WD40 or its
Spanish equivalent was sought but we never did find any. Even our
Spanish service crew did not carry it.
We had no
further problems as the car dried out and we went on to complete the
final two stages without incident. Clearly it had been dampness or
condensation in the ignition system. Our aim was to finish and this we
The FIA stage rally was won by well known
Italians "Lucky" /Fabrizia Pons from fellow Italians
"Pedro'/Baldaccini, both in Lancia delta Integrales.
prize giving was a lavish affair and, needless to say, we did not
feature in the
awards but what great fun we had on these
Spanish closed roads.
COSTA BRAVA HISTORIC 1-4 OCTOBER 2015
details are beginning to emerge about this regularity rally at the
October. The organisers, Rally Classics, will
again be offering a special deal for UK
entrants called the
‘Golden Pack’. In the past it covered the rally
entry fee, transport
of the rally car from the UK to Spain and
back in a solid sided transporter, a shared
breakdown service on the event, airport pick up and drop off and 3
for the crew in a hotel for a fee of around 2000 euros. A range of
can reduce this figure including deductions for age
of the car and/or combined age of
the crew. This is a really
good deal for what is always a fantastic and well organised
with the confidence of getting your car back to the UK no matter what.
This is a
great way of doing your first foreign event.
your car must be taken to the transport companies’ depot in
but a local pick up in Scotland is a possibility.
Of course you can always make your
own arrangements to get to
Spain and just pay the very reasonable rally entry fee,
the discounts referred to above, but with less peace of mind.
you are interested in the Golden Pack or want more information about
the rally see
or contact me:-
John Stuart by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 10 April 2015