The 2015 Rally of the Tests fully lived up to the event’s reputation of being one of the toughest rallies of the genre and it took the combined talents of Howard Warren and Iain Tullie to clinch victory.
This is the event that recreates the style of the RAC Rally before it moved over to forest-based special stages in the early 1960s. This time around the route was all about the Scottish borders, with the two longest days delivering a mighty challenge for 70 crews in pre-1977 cars.
The competitive action was a typical mix of special tests on private ground, regularity sections on public roads and tough time control sections run in the evenings and giving crews a taste of road rallying with testing navigation. The use of military land at Dundrennan and Catterick allowed clerk of the course Guy Woodcock to lay on very challenging time control sections on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
The rally started with a short prologue section from the start in Hexham, Northumberland, on Thursday evening. Competitors then tackled a full day in the Scottish borders on Friday to an overnight halt in Dumfries. Saturday took crews east for an overnight halt in Darlington, before a shorter final day to the finish in Blackpool on Sunday afternoon.
Although cars from the 1970s are able to compete, the major award is for pre-1965 cars and so Warren, best known for great success in Porsche 911s, switched to a 1962-vintage 356 for the event and enlisted the co-driving talents of Tullie. It proved a winning combination and they took an early lead on Thursday evening.
However, through Friday a storming charge from Andy Lane and Matt Fowle put their Volvo 131 into the lead and at the overnight halt in Dumfries they had half a minute over Warren/Tullie as the MGB of John and Peter Dignan also got into the mix. Sadly, Lane was in trouble early on Saturday with a failing alternator and they dropped out of contention.
As the weary crews reached Darlington, Warren and Tullie were back in front with 1min 17sec in hand over the Dignans and the margin was largely maintained through the final day. Father and son Roger and Leigh Powley (Porsche 911) were third in the final classification, although the award for second overall among the earlier cars went to another Porsche 356, this time in the hands of Neil Wilson and Matthew Vokes. Paul Lawrence