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 amazing sights. Ever seen a Volvo 340GL in Starsky and Hutch colours – or a Vauxhall Carlton dressed up as the General Lee from “Dukes of Hazzard”? Well we did in the car park. Celebrations had also begun in earnest, with some of the entrants obviously in high spirits. Well, until the Calais riot police had turned up!
The following morning, we arrived at the start point (in the car park of CityEurope Calais) where we were meeting up with Alexander, and found that most of the cars competing had already arrived. Julian, the event’s organizer had taped out a start line, and at 10:15 (following the usual mayhem) the cars accelerated away. The cars were “seeded” in terms of their engine sizes, and we were fortunte to be one of the first teams to go thanks to the small engine in our Rover.
We got to the start line, were counted down, and in front of the cameras, we smoked the front wheels big time (yep, I am not above the boy racer tactic of bouncing the engine off the limiter and dumping the clutch) and rocketed away like Michael Schumacher on speed.
The fast getaway was not neccessary, but it was a fun start to a long slog on the motorways. The way to do well on the Staples2Naples run is to score as many points as possible, and this involved getting in to as many coutries as possible during the day. And with 100 points per country at stake, we decided to aim to get into eight before the day’s end. Eight countries? Yep, that’s right: France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Leichtenstein and Switzerland. A long day, perhaps, but revealing all the same. During the 700-or-so miles we travelled in day one, we got to know our trusty, willing and fast Rover very well indeed.
For one thing, we know this 1590cc car, sold in 1990 can reach 135mph (on the clock)… all legal in Germany, of course – and with a little help with a friendly BMW 320D’s slipstream.
We completed the eight-country dash around 1:00am (including a photo shoot for a future austin-rover.co.uk article), tired, but anticipating the tests for day two.
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.