The Baltic Classic Rally 2017
28 May - 10 June
MAY 27, 2017 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Prestart in the land of Lego - and Hamlet
As the Bard himself declared, brevity is the soul of wit, so this should be but a short introduction to both the proceedings and the dramatis personae.
The Baltic Classic is possibly the most northerly rally that the ERA has done. Only the forays into Alaska and Canada during the Around the World in 80 Days in 2000 and the 2012 Trans America Challenge come anywhere close to its overall latitude.
The route has been put together by the ERA Rally Director Fred Gallagher and local boy Hans Sylvan who both know this neck of the woods well from 'way back in the day'; so we're looking forward to lots of sub-arctic action on the type of gravel piste and three dimensional roads more usually seen on the WRC circuit.
Applying the rules of the rally to the runners and riders is Mark Appleton who joins us for the first time as Clerk of Course with the very same Hans Sylvan as his deputy.
We're in Copenhagen, the fine capital city of Denmark and, in the carpark of the Clarion Hotel it was pre start business as usual. Andy Inskip and his band of rude mechanicals were busy with all manner of spannering, scrutineering and reviewing the assembled fleet of motorcars. And, as usual the assembly set before them was indeed an impressive one, which remarkably featured what we think are the first ever Ferraris seen on an ERA event. The Modanese prancing horses are crewed by Joerg and Louis Lemberg who are more usually seen in a vintage Lagonda and Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis who are with us for the first time.
Much of the day was taken up with the signing on and paperwork protocol which was led once again by Eleonora Piccolo and Jill Cotton. The navigators then sat with their road books in anxious huddles taking in the scale of the challenge that was laid out before them.
Any free time which was left saw some crews taking to the roads of Copenhagen for a short shakedown and some sightseeing although for one crew this all that they would see of the event from a classic car. In an act worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy, Monte Gingery - ex Peking to Paris - saw his Oldsmobile drop an engine valve which means that his rally is over before it has even started. He’s going to continue in rental car though and simply enjoy the ride.
The Clarion Hotel was busy all throughout the day with crews reacquainting themselves with old friends or just chilling out. Lorens Imhof and Adrian Bielser are with us for the first time in a Rover P6 and they’ve come to explore new countries, make friends and enjoying the English style of rallying with plenty of regularity to keep them on their toes.
Fred Gallagher and Mark Appleton addressed the rally before dinner outlining what lay before us: 8 countries in two weeks is quite some adventure.
Finally it's worth mentioning the fact that ten years to the day the 2007 Peking to Paris was pulling away from the Great Wall of China. David and Jo Roberts and Joerg Lemberg last seen tucking into tonights meal hold the bragging rights to being in attendance both events.
The building blocks of another fine event are now in place and tomorrow we’ve got to get on with things. There’s a rally to be run and look what procrastination did for Hamlet!