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 up another twisty road on the side of a mountain (what a view), and at the top, there was a big gravel car park. I waited with the car as Alexander and Declan went off sightseeing, and what should happen, but some of the other teams rolled up. Senator and General Lee (Team Frontbum) went in for some oversteery ballet, which didn’t just kick up a fuss, but also a great deal of dust. Still, it was all a good laugh.
The second photo took us to the top of another mountain north of the Bay of Naples – the view was absolutely stunning, as was the drive. The third photo – pretty much more of the same.
As we drove further south, the traffic became increasingly scary. Italian drivers really are a law unto themselves, and it would seem that the concept of priority, lane discipline or indicating had been completely abandoned in favour of a high speed free-for-all. Until experiencing the south of Italy, Leicester city centre always registered as the scariest place to drive (and I’ve done Paris and London), but now I think we have a new winner.
At many points of the day, we met up with other teams at the photo points or just generally on the roads, and the spirit of camaraderie was just great. We would wave and hoot – and it generally felt good to be in company. Especially with such a great bunch of people. The scenery was stunning, the weather was great and spirits were high.
We caught up with four of our cars going through a small Italian town on the Via Appia, and watched with wide smiles on our faces as they performed a range of interesting formations – manoeuvres that you would never dream of doing on your own car on your own patch. All perfectly safe, but as funny as a funny thing to watch. The Italians certainly enjoyed it from what we could see…
By 7:00pm on day four, we had finished all our challenges. We rolled up to the hotel, caught up with the organizers, declared our points (we had not dropped a single one) and went to relax with some of the other entrants. And what stories they had to tell…
The prize giving came later, and as we all waited in the conference room for Justin to announce the winner, the atmosphere was good – we were all happy to have made it, beers in hand.
As it happens, Team Snooty Fox won the prize for the biggest heap of rubbish to make it to the end of the rally – no doubt, the guys’ ears would have still been ringing from the abuse – I mean, 7000rpm to go 60mph – for over 200 miles? Only on Staples2Naples!
The winners of the most points, and therefore the recipients of the £1000 first prize was the team known as “The Direct Numbers”, and their story was brilliant: they entered the event, got a friend to buy the car, turned up on the day, got in (having never driven it before)… and won. Oh yes, and they came in from America. Talk about swooping in and stealing the spoils. The guys did exactly what they needed to do – eight countries, nine passes, all the petrol stations, and all the photos.
Team austin-rover.co.uk did get an honourable mention though, as we came a very close second (out of 65 teams)… Scott and Kai did what we didn’t though – they spotted that you could do nine passes if you mixed and matched the day two options, whereas we stuck rigidly to the instructions (meaning a total of eight).
Next time… next time.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.