Cross-country pursuits

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The annual Tour Britannia event is loved by competitors – it just needs more of them
By Paul Lawrence

After three days of competition on the fourth running of Tour Britannia, the Porsche 911 of Sean Lockyear and Roy Stephenson ran out a commanding winner as a caravan of classic sports and GT cars toured the country tackling races and special stages.

The entry has always been dominated by Porsches, but wins for a Ford GT40, a Morgan Plus 8 and a Chevron B16 had previously kept the Stuttgart machines off the top position.

For organisers Fred Gallagher and Alec Poole, Tour Britannia is a labour of love and the result is an event that is enjoyed enormously by competitors. But the 2008 entry of just under 60 cars is still short of what is needed to make the event truly commercially viable.

Those who take part are fulsome in their praise, none more so than newcomer Chris Chiles, a former winner of all the major European tours. “The organisation is better than any tour I’ve done and it’s a superb event. I don’t know why more people don’t do it,” said Chiles after guiding his AC Cobra to second overall with Dave Mountford alongside.

However, the award for the most spectacular car of the tour went to the Bizzarrini of Roger and Olga Wills, which was driven with huge commitment only to falter with an oil leak on the final special stage.

Unusually poor weather did not detract from the three-day event which took in races at Snetterton, Mallory Park, the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and Oulton Park. In between were asphalt special stages at venues such as Hethel, Cornbury Park and Swynnerton, and it was all accomplished in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

While Lockyear and Stephenson shared the driving of the Porsche to take victory, Chiles powered the Cobra through to second and best pre-65 car. Into third came John Sheldon and Lesley Stevens in their Lotus Elan after the hard-charging Porsche 911 of Mike Anderson and Colin Grant had its throttle stick open at Swynnerton. They recovered for fourth just ahead of the AC Cobra of Dutch husband and wife Armand and Susanne Adriaans.

On his first visit to everywhere except Silverstone, Adriaans marvelled at the road route that kept away from heavy traffic and took in some classic British scenery. “Now I want to come back and drive the route again in my road car, just to enjoy it,” he said.

Tour Britannia is a unique event on the British classic motor sport calendar. The only thing it currently lacks is a full entry list.

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