F40 at Classic Adelaide Rally
Imagine driving your car on empty roads through Provençal countryside, the sun is shining, the scenery is majestic, the people are warm and friendly and your location is populated by world-renowned vineyards. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? In fact, this is reality. This is Classic Adelaide.
Established over nine years ago by David Edwards, chairman of Silverstone Events, Classic Adelaide is now internationally recognised as one of the world’s best rallies. In 2005, the rally was heavily over-subscribed yet managed to accommodate almost 360 entries. This year was particularly notable as the rally was sponsored by Ferrari with the consequence that the largest concentration of Ferraris ever seen in Australia attended the rally – over 120 cars in total.
The rally is based in and around Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. With an average daily temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, the surrounding countryside is populated by two major wine growing areas -- Barossa and McClaren Vale -- that between them account for about 70 per cent of the vineyards in Australia. Internationally recognisable names such as Penfolds and Jacobs Creek are resident here, as well as less known, but highly revered labels, such as Grant Burge, McClaren Wines and Woodstock.
Classic Adelaide has several different categories from Competition (where full race speed is allowed on the closed stages) down to Classic Touring (which is more relaxed). While each category has certain criteria for entry, there was a huge selection of cars participating. Memorable cars included a Ferrari 288GTO newly arrived from England, an unregistered Jaguar XJ220, numerous Ferraris including a 275GT, 250 TDF, two F40s, an F50, two 612 Scagliettis and several Dinos, 355s and 360s.
The rally is organised as a tour through the countryside and hills surrounding Adelaide over four days. Each day starts and ends in Adelaide which is used as a hub throughout the rally. Each day of the rally consists of public road sections where normal speed limits apply but interspersed with closed sections of public road where only rally participants can enjoy themselves.
The special stages are not barriered in any special way. If you get it wrong, your mistake can be fatal as many sections are lined with trees, have precipitous drops or are edged with rock faces! Notwithstanding, this is a place to have serious fun.
Smoking and squealing
And boy did we have fun! Round hairpins, through gorges and over fast flowing mountain roads, we slithered, squealed and smoked our car to the end of each special stage.
Except for the competition category, no other categories are officially timed. However, that didn’t stop us timing ourselves and comparing notes in the evening over a cold beer. Overall, there was a real sense of camaraderie and many friendships were made during the course of the event. As a result, on the special stages quicker entries were let through by slower entrants even though each car was separated by a 30-second interval.
Each evening there were events to attend at one restaurant or another, including a memorable dinner by the coast at Glenelg. Adelaide is not short of excellent restaurants. In nearby Gouger Street every taste is catered for – seafood, steakhouses, Asian, Chinese, Italian etc. Food and beer is cheap by UK standards – an average meal will cost about A$30 (£13) and a pint of beer typically costs A$3.50 (£1.50). The biggest shock though is the price of petrol – typically A$1.3 per litre (£0.57/litre).
Come on down
If you like driving and fancy escaping the gloomy winter nights in the UK, then there is no excuse for not packing your bags and heading Down Under for 2006. Although the 19-hour flight from the UK is long, the rewards are worth it.
The organisers of Classic Adelaide take care of the shipping arrangements for your car which will be cleaned and liveried by the time you arrive. Registration and the briefing sessions are a doddle and your accommodation is the well-appointed Hilton Hotel, right in the heart of the City.
Many people take advantage and spend two to three weeks before or after Classic Adelaide to take in other parts of Australia. By way of example, the Gold Coast and the Barrier Reef are good areas to visit. All of this can be arranged for you as part of your Classic Adelaide experience.