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|The Norman Conquest|
7th - 13th September 1997
Twenty-nine cars gathered at HMS Victory, Portsmouth for scrutineering and signing on. Parked alongside the historic ship was a 1919 Standard SLS, a 1948 Austin 16, a 1933 MG J2 Midget, and a 1966 Triumph TR4a amongst others. A 1953 Morgan Plus 4 had cheekily slotted itself into the sleek Jaguar E Type line up, it was that kind of rally! At 1.00 p.m. all the cars departed for Caen via Brittany Ferries, lunching on board.
The morning began leisurely with a calibration run, followed by an afternoon's rallying. At one time control, the local mayor arranged refreshments and the school children cheered and waved as each car checked in. After several further controls the rallying finished at Hotel Ferme de La Rançonnière, where the navigators navigated their way to a drinks reception, whilst the drivers drove a short regularity circle by themselves, proving that a few of them really could "Do it All!"
By close of play John and Trisha Venables (1954 MG TF) were leading Chris and Julie Rashbrooke (1953 Jaguar XK120) by just 14 seconds. In Class 3 (The Young Ones) Hugh and Judy Mayes (1960 MGA) were just ahead of Chris and Val Harbridge (1973 MGB GT).
This morning the rally route wound through the Bocage areas of Normandy with glorious scenery and views. By now most competitors had got the hang of things, though Ken and Barbara Waller (1936 Ford Y Type) were searching hard for a right-hand turning located just after a named headstone. When they asked a local he turned out to be the grandson of the deceased, so they had to stay to listen to the family history before moving on. After several more time controls, a speed change and a secret time control everyone arrived at Thury Harcout for lunch. As the afternoon was free many competitors then visited the Normandy Beaches and Monuments or viewed the Bayeux Tapestry.
John and Trisha continued to lead, but second place had been taken from Chris and Julie by Mike Sutcliff and John Hopwood (1959 Triumph TR3a). In the Team Competition, the Musketeers were beginning to stretch their lead over the battling Normans, Saxons and Troopers.
The Mayor of Cruelly bid "Au Revoir" to the competitors, who then rallied their way to the bustling town of Falaise, William the Conqueror's birthplace. Small villages were visited, (several times apparently by some of the Jaguar E Type drivers!) whilst the old hands negotiated the challenging route aware that one wrong turning could slip them well down the placings.
Mike and John were now leading Class 2 (The Middle Aged) and were still second overall to John and Trisha but by just 9 seconds. Meanwhile, in Class 1 (The Old Timers) things were nearly as close with David and Anne Tingham (1934 Alvis Speed 20) chasing Roger and Kathleen Learmonth (1938 Jaguar SS100).
Today, the rally route twisted up and down the Suisse Normande area passing through the village of Clecy, with lush green tress arching over the river, and then to Pont d'Oiully, a town straight off a chocolate box lid. The first two sections were relatively short, whilst the third section was just a shade over 80 kms, which over-ran many speed tables. John and Glenice Jubb (1957 Austin Healey 100/6) were heard to comment after missing a particularly difficult backward facing sign, "We weren't lost, just not on the right road!" The final control was at the magnificent Château Vendeuvre, where after lunch competitors had time to visit the Water Gardens and Château Museums.
John and Trisha maintained their lead, whilst Chris and Julie had sneaked ahead of Mike and John into the lead of Class 2. By now the Knockout was reaching the final round, with Tom and Ingrid Coldicott (1958 Jaguar XK150S) preparing for battle with Dennis and Jennifer Barker (1955 MG TF).
After starting in front of Château de la Fresnaye competitors rallied to Honfleur, but not before completing seven sections! Marshals were seen to count them all in, and then dash to another control to count them all through again. Navigators not only had to contend with turning left here, forking right there, but changing speed several times and not being caught out by the secret time controls. However, all the drivers and navigators made it to the finish, still talking to each other, where they enjoyed lunch and a celebratory tasting at Calvados Boulard.
At Clos St Gatien, our final night's hotel, everyone gathered for "La Fête Final avec Petit Orchestre" in best bib and tucker, still not quite sure who had won, though it was not really a surprise when John and Trisha Venables were announced as winners. After the presentation of prizes and an evening of good food and gentle music, the rally closed with several competitors wondering what the results would have been, "IF ONLY!"
The Norman Conquest
First Overall...John and Trica Venables............1954 MG TF 1250cc Second Overall..Mike Sutcliffe and John Hopwood....1959 Triumph TR3A Third Overall...Dennis and Jennifer Barker.........1955 MG TF 1500cc Old Timers First...Roger and Kathleen Learmonth...............1938 Jaguar SS100 Second...David and Anne Tringham...................1934 Alvis Speed 20 Third...Edward and Lesley Behrendt.................1933 MG J2 Midget Middle Aged First...John and Trica Venables....................1954 MG TF 1250cc Second...Chris and Julie Rashbrooke................1953 Jaguar XK120 fhc Third...Mike Sutcliff and John Hopwood.............1959 Triumph TR3a Young Ones First...Hugh and Judi Mayes........................1960 MGA 1600cc Second...Robert and Brenda Goodchild...............1964 Austin Healey 3000 Third...Chris and Val Harbridge....................1973 MGB GTOther Awards
First Teams "Musketeers" Mike Sutcliffe and John Hopwood..........1959 Triumph TR3A Chris and Julie Rashbrooke...............1953 Jaguar XK120 fhc 3 ½ ltr Tony Payne and Amanda Riles..............1966 Austin Healey 3000 Mk III BJ 8 Knockout..Dennis and Jennifer Barker...........1955 MG TF 1500cc William Award..Christer and Inga-Lill Olsson...1964 Jaguar MkII 3.4 (Spirit of the Rally) Harold Award..John and Kate Conder.............1919 Standard SLS dhcHow the Competition was Run
The Norman Conquest 1998
For your information, we will be running another event next year. At present we are still in the planning stages, but it will be similar in concept to 'The Norman Conquest', and will be based in Normandy, although we are planning to use different hotels and routes. We have several of this year's competitors already committed to coming with armfuls of friends!!
So if any MG owners would like a first bite at the cherry, we are advising interested parties to get in quick! The event will be run between 5th and 14th September (exact dates to be confirmed soonest, subject to ferry crossing times).
Brochures listing all the goodies on offer and the price (which hopefully will be similar to this year's) will be availalbe towards the end of November/early December.
Email: Nicola Walsh email@example.com
Previous Conquest News
Conquest 97 Announced
Conquest 97 Update