Badawi Trail to the Last Oasis
10th-28th October 2023
Vintage Winners: Jorge Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta (Chevrolet Master Coupe)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Blue Passion
Classic Winners: Filip Engelen/Ann Gillis (Porsche Targa 911)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Blue Passion
Date: 10th-28th October
Clerk of the Course: Guy Woodcock
Deputy Clerk of the Course: John Spiller
Route: 7,500 Kms, 10 Sporting TC Sections, 23 Regularities & 1 Test
Countries: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates & Oman
HERO-ERA devised an ambitious format for the Badawi Trail; taking a classic car navigational event across the Arabian Peninsula, passing through four countries. The seventeen day rally would cover 7,500kms.
Forty-four crews took up the challenge and assembled at the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba. Thirteen cars conformed to the Vintage pre-1947 requirement and would therefore be eligible for the overall awards; Classic cars would battle within their own category.
Starting with four days in Jordan, the rally would then be in Saudi Arabia for seven, including the only rest day of the event. Day 11 took the rally into the United Arab Emirates, after three days there, Days 14 and 15 would see competition in Oman, before the Trail returned to the UAE and a finish at the QE2 berthed in Dubai.
Day One took the cars from Aqaba to the northern shore of the Dead Sea, via a visit to Petra. Three regularities had been planned. The first at Wadi Araba saw Jorge Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta (Chevrolet Master Coupe) take the best performance, dropping a total of just three seconds at the two timing points, one second ahead of Bill Cleyndert/Emily Anderson (Bentley 3/4½).
After an extended stop at the delights of Petra, crews headed for the second regularity. It was at this point that the Jordanian Police intervened; they were under instructions to protect the event, but, with the tension at near by Gaza Strip, they were obviously nervous about their mission. They insisted that the whole rally travel in a convoy, directly to the Finish hotel.
Anton Sr Gonnissen reported that initially they were kept at 40kph, then after a couple of hours the speed increased to 120kph and then the police disappeared. The outcome was that two regularities were lost.
Day Two included the northernmost point of the route as competitors initially headed north from the Dead Sea before looping back to finish at the Jordanian capital, Amman, at the Royal Automobile Museum. There was a single regularity, but it was 13 miles long and named the Labyrinth.
Richard Walker/Faith Douglas (Chevrolet Coupe) put up the best performance on two seconds, followed by Peter Morton/Louise Morton (Rover P6) on four. This put Morton/Morton in a shared lead with Cleyndert/Anderson.
Car 31, Serge Berthier/Jacqueline Berthier, had to miss some the route as their Citroen SM developed problems with the alternator. They were unable to rejoin until the following day as they sought a replacement at a local garage. Also in trouble was the Bentle Speed 8 of Anton Sr Gonnissen/Ingeborg Willemen, engine problems saw it being towed to the lunch halt.
2nd Overall: Tommy Dreelan/George Barrack (Chevrolet Fangio Coupe)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent
The third day provided the most varied competition of the event, with one regularity, the rally's only test and the first Sporting TC sections; the latter are off road sectors with demanding target times, all timed to the minute.
The test was at the start of the day and used the Madaba Circuit, where Filip Engelen/Ann Gillis (Porsche Targa) took fastest time, one second ahead of Lars Rolner/Annette Rolner (Porsche Safari), who lost time with a spin. Morton/Morton were third quickest.
After their circuit success, Engelen/Gillis followed it up by dropping one second less than any other crew on the day's regularity. On the two desert Sporting Sections they added 30 seconds to their total - the penalty for being one minute late was 30 seconds - and ended the day at the top of the leader board, a position they were to hold to the Finish. Morton/Morton were in second place 30 seconds behind the leaders.
Only the 13 cars in the Pioneer, Vintage and Vintageant were eligible for the overall awards; Companc/Volta led this battle, leading Michael McInerney/Jose Arana Villavicencio (Ford V8 Coupe) by a minute.
The third overnight halt of the Badawi Trail was at Wadi Rum, a spectacular area used for the filming of the Star Wars films.
Day Four was set aside for the border crossing into Saudi Arabia. This is where a major issue unfolded for some cars. Right hand drive cars are illegal in the kingdom, but waivers had been acquired from the authorities for the RHD cars involved in the event. However, the customs officials would not accept the documentation and it took 12 hours, and calls to the high echelons of Saudi governance, before the vehicles were allowed in.
Competitive motoring resumed on Day Five, with the route moving south and including two regularities and a sporting section. The final MTC was at the Al Ula resort.
With the best performance of the day, Engelen/Gillis extended their lead, while Companc/Volta moved up to second place on the leader board.
Disaster struck for Car 2, when navigator Emily Anderson dislocated an elbow and had to withdraw from the event. Driver, Bill Cleyndert decided to continue in a solo run to the Finish, which earned him the Spirit of the Rally Award.
2nd Classic: Peter Morton/Louise Morton (Rover P6)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Blue Passion
After a rest day at Al Ula, the route took crews to the holy city of Medina on Day Seven; three regularities were tackled on the way.
There were mechanical problems for a number of cars, these included the Porsche Safari of Rolner/Rolner; clutch problems caused them to miss the final section.
There were also problems for Engelen/Gillis, they slid into soft sand towards the end of the regularity and they were stuck. Despite this they remained at the top of the leader board due to the maximum one minute penalty cap at timing points.
On the following day the route headed further south, crossing over the Asir Mountains to the Red Sea coast. The finish was at the Jeddah Grand Prix Circuit, where competitors were allowed to drive around the track.
Companc/Volta put in the best performance of the day and moved to within a minute of Engelen/Gillis. Michael Dreelan/Robert Pybus (Lagonda LG45 Touring) had a good run and moved up from eighth to fifth place on the leader board.
The Day Nine route looped south from Jeddah before moving back inland, through the mountains and back north to the resort of Taif. There were two regularities and a STC section.
Alain Lejeune/Herve Collette (Volvo 121) added least to their total and moved to within 20 seconds of their Class 4 rivals, Erik van Droogenbroek/Catja van Heusden (Volvo P1800).
Engelen/Gillis extended their lead further, dropping just five seconds. Dreelan/Pybus had gearbox issues and fell two places to seventh. Rolner/Rolner had a good day and got back into the top ten.
Day Ten was a transit day, taking the route across the Arabian Desert, covering over 930 kilometres, while Day 11 was set aside to deal with the border crossing into the United Arab Emirates.
Spirit of the Rally Award: Bill Cleyndert (Bentley 3/4½)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent
There remained six days of the event and all contained competitive sections. Day 12 was probably the most intense of the entire rally, with 330Kms filled with a STC section and two regularities.
The STC desert section caused problems for many as they got bogged down in the sand. Despite this, twelve cars, including all the leading runners, reached the STC on schedule.
The two regs didn't cause any major problems. With Engelen/Gillis dropping the least time for the day; a pattern had been established.
After an opening short regularity, the Day 13 route headed north, to almost touch the coast of the Persian Gulf. There was a scare for Companc/Volta, when they reported gearbox problems at the lunch halt; an oil leak necessitated top ups at every opportunity. However, they put in the best performance of the day and extended their lead in the overall standings to over four minutes.
Peter Morton/Louise Morton had a bad day, dropping over two minutes and falling a place on the leader board; they were now behind Michael McInerney/Jose Arana Villavicencio.
There was just one regularity on Day 14 as there was another border to get through; the event moving into its fourth country, Oman. The minimal penalties incurred on the reg meant that the top nine positions remained unchanged.
The most eastern point of the route was reached on Day 15, with the lunch halt being taken at Sur. There was a single regularity, but it was the longest of the event, with five timing points. Engelen/Gillis dropped just three seconds over the section, four better than any other car. They now had a seven minute lead in the Classic Category. In the battle for overall honours, Companc/Volta were five minutes ahead of McInerney/Villavicencio.
The route moved back into the United Arab Emirates on the penultimate day. There were 200kms to traverse to the border, then a reg and an STC section to tackle before the day end at Fujairah.
Companc/Volta reinforced their lead by cleaning all the sections. Behind them McInerney/Villavicencio missed a route check, this added five minutes to their total and they well from second overall to fifth.
The Badawi Trail ended in Dubai at the QE2, which is where the ex-Cunard liner is now berthed. There were two tricky regularities and a sporting section to negotiate, but there was no doubt about the crew at the top of the leader board, Filip Engelen/Ann Gillis put up the best performance on the day and came home eight minutes ahead of their nearest Classic rivals, having dropped just six minutes themselves. Thus they added the Badawi title to their other successes, the 2019 New Zealand Classic and the 2022 Lima to Cape Horn.
The overall win went to Jorge Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta, who nursed their Chevrolet to a convincing victory; they had a six minute winning margin over Tommy Dreelan/George Barrack (Chevrolet Fangio Coupe).
Forty-one of the 44 starters made it to the finish line.
- Overall Positions
- Award Winners
- Class Positions
- Time Penalty Details
- Test Times - Test 3/1
- Team Competition
- Best Regularity Performances
- Best Sporting Section Performances
- Top 30 Positions At Each Day End
- List of Starters