In the March issue of Motor Sport I read with very great interest the letter from Mr. J. B. Holmes, of the South African R.A.C., and I agree with him entirely.
It was indeed a Scandalous state of affairs for a rally of such magnitude to take place without one single British entry.
There is no doubt at all that Britain could build a car capable of winning such a rally, and there are drivers such as Ralph Sleigh and Peter Jopling who proved their ability to drive in such a rally by their completely successful journey over much the same route in an Austin comparatively recently.
I imagine the trouble is, in the first place, that the cost of participation is too high for most private motorists, secondly the Government may not like releasing the necessary foreign currency, and, thirdly, the motor manufacturers of this country have appeared to be singularly unimaginative towards competitive motoring since the war. The reason for this may well be that, with the exception of the small firms, the motor industry is now run by industrialists pure and simple, to whom a satisfactory balance sheet is of greater importance than a high reputation in competitive circles. This is understandable but perhaps unfortunate and may not be quite such sound policy when the days of competitive selling come back again.
For a rally of this kind I think there is no doubt that the man likely to have most success is the private individual who is answerable to no one for the modifications to his car or for his methods of driving. And it is to be hoped that one or two such men may be able to compete next time.
I am not entirely unacquainted with this sort of motoring myself, having motored from London to Capetown via Rotterdam, Istanbul, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Cairo, in a British car (a Riley) as long ago as 1931. I understand conditions have improved greatly since, then, and I obtained all details of the rally from “Les antis du Sahara” some months ago but found the cost of participation too great. However, things may have changed by the time the rally comes round again.
To digress to the letter of Mr. K. N Hutchison, also in the March issue; with all due deference to that excellent motor car the Lancia Aprilia, I think that if the Alps had to be crossed, not once but six times non-stop, the Bentley would be first past the post and, if not “stone cold,” certainly not overheated!
I am, Yours, etc.,
Walton, War. C. D. B. WILLIAMS.