The motoring marathon has always held an appeal to me – travelling far and wide, seeing new things, meeting interesting people. The downside is that you have to be extremely rich, talented or have lots of spare time on your hands. As I cannot enjoy any of these luxuries, the dream became a pipedream at an early age, as I accepted that transcontinental marathons were not for me.
Happily, it seems that there are many others out there that share the same sentiments as me. The first and most widely known ‘marathons for the common man’ is the Plymouth-Dakar challenge, which encompasses a month away from home, crossing Europe and Northern Africa. And joy of joys – it had to be undertaken in a car that costs no more than £100. Now that was a budget that www.austin-rover.co.uk could run to, if it looked down the back of the settee for spare change. For sure, this is a trip of a lifetime, and when the organizer, Julian Nowell, got in touch with me late last year to invite me to join for 2004, I deliberated for a long time…
The deliberation ended on the back of not getting time away from the office, and the difficulty in finding a co-driver.
That did not stop me wanting to do it… not for one moment. Sadly, real life got in the way, though and that I thought, was that. I didn’t count on the Staples2Naples challenge though. According to its website, the event was organised for exactly the reasons I had forsaken Plymouth-Dakar: “Staples2Naples is the banger rally for wages slaves… S2N was an idea conceived to address the problem in the amount of time people have to spare. A Banger rally is great fun, but many people are unable to take 3 weeks out of their lives to do this. Either work or home commitments make this impossible.”
That was it! Eureka! I could enter this one, and still get home in time for tea…
UPDATES: How the adventure unfolded
So, the rally is over and we have finally returned to normality. It seems bizarre to think when looking out of the window at all the rain we’re getting at the moment, that only a week-or-so ago, we were enjoying a balmy 26 degree morning in Southern Italy. A world away. The rally has been […]
So there you go… a few magical days and it’s all over. Staples2Naples was an absolute blast from start to finish and it just shows that it is still possible to have fun on the roads without the spectre of GATSOs, road rage or aggravation from other drivers. OK, so we had to go to […]
No rest for the wicked. 11:00am the following day, we were back at the hotel to meet up with a few of the entrants, and get their stories, then it was into the car to head North at a furious pace. Once on the autostrada, we settled down to a healthy pace and watched the […]
The last day was pretty easy in comparison with those that came before. We had to take photographs of three different locations on the way to the end of the rally. The first photo was easy – an entry sign into a painfully beautiful mountain-top village. The route there was great, as it involved driving […]
Sunday morning. The town square in Tirano is not the sort of place you would expect to see fifty UK-registered bangers. And certainly not the sort of place you would expect to hear them hooting their horns in unison… Still, it happened today, and it made for a great sight – and sound. Spirits were […]
The maximum point count for Saturday involved crossing up to eight Alpine passes (subsequently, we found out that we could have done nine). And yes, we decided to go for eight. The day went well, and it was here that the 216GTi really excelled. The ride may be firm, but the handling is very crisp, […]
The tone of the event was set on the night before the event. Declan and I rolled up into the cheap and not so cheerful Formula One hotel in Calais, and before we even got into the car park, we knew we had hit the Staples2Naples ground zero. In front of us were some absolutely […]
Two days to go until lift-off. Well, not lift off exactly, but on Thursday evening, Declan and I will be getting on the car ferry at Dover in our trusty Rover 216 GTi 16V. Yep, Staples2Naples is nearly with us… Preparations haven’t been as thorough as I would have hoped given my starting the new […]
Took the 216 for its first test in anger since the new clutch (and sump) was fitted last month. On a 100-mile journey up the motorway, the Rover proved faultless. Acceleration was sprightly enough, and although the gearing is on the low side (4,000rpm equates to an indicated 72mph), the Honda’s inherent smoothness as high […]
Just before I went on holiday, Brian Gunn and Stuart Bishop managed to get some time to replace the GTi’s clutch. The job had been straightforward for the guys – plenty of tea and not too much swearing had the gearbox off, and the clutch in. ‘Box replaced and the suspension put back in, the […]