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30th Classic Marathon


18th-23rd June 2023

Classic Marathon 2023
Overall Winners: Mark Godfrey/Sue Godfrey (MG B)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent
Classic Marathon 2023
Top of Leader Board: Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan (VW Golf GTi)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

Organiser: HERO-ERA

Date: 18th-23rd June 2023

Clerk of the Course: Guy Woodcock

Deputy Clerk of the Course: Anthony Preston

Route: 2,200 Kms, 35 Regularities & 9 Tests

Countries: Slovenia, Croatia & Austria

Starters: 44

For 2023 HERO-ERA took the Classic Marathon to Slovenia, to roads used a number of times in the event's history.

Bled was the base for the Marathon, hosting both the start and finish. In between the 44 competing crews faced a six day, 2,200km challenge, using roads and tracks in Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.

Those expecting an easy introduction to competition were in for a rude awakening as the opening regularity, in the hills to the north-west of Cerkno ski resort, demanded close attention to the route instructions. A number of crews fell foul of the section. Most significantly top seeds, and winners of the 29th Marathon, Paul Crosby/Ali Procter (Porsche 911), picked up a maximum one minute penalty at the final timing point; they'd overlooked an instruction and missed a turning. Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan (VW Golf GTi) made the same mistake and gained the same penalty. Best over the regularity were Steve Robertson/Julia Robertson (Triumph TR3), who dropped two seconds.

In trouble before the first timing point was the Volvo P1800E of Robert Smith/Richard Stanier; a loss of the power feed to the coil led to the engine cutting out. They were stopped for almost 30 minutes, but the Sweep Crew got them going after a small adjustment to the wiring loom. The crew completed the remainder of the event without incident.

Another demanding section, with four timing points, took competitors to the lunch halt at Razorto, just off the main A1 motorway. At this point Graham Platts/Neil Ripley (Austin Healey 100M), who had finished second on the Scottish Malts, held a narrow lead; they had dropped 18 seconds, while Paul Wignall/Annabel Jones (Alfa Romeo Giuiletta Sprint) were just a second behind.

After the break the route moved to the first tests of the rally, two climbs up the closed roads at Vrhpolje.

Richard Siddle/Katherine Siddle had originally been due to use a Ford Escort Mexico for the Marathon, but this wasn't ready in time, so they joined in with a 1989 Porsche Carrera; this wasn't an eligible car, so they were put into a separate class. They however completed the whole route and took fastest on both ascents of the test.

Thomas Herold/Marion Herold were fastest of the eligible cars up the climb, stopping the clock a second behind Siddle and one second ahead of the Jaguar E-Type of Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose. The latter crew tied with Siddle for quickest time on the second run up the climb.

Classic Marathon 2023
Test Pilot Winners: Marcus Anderson/Matthew Lymn Rose (Jaguar E-Type)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

The day finished with two more regularities, which took the route down to the coast at Portoroz. The only drama of these section was that a number of crews missed to find a timing point located on a triangle. These crews included the erstwhile leaders, Platts/Ripley, who fell to 17th place.

The leaders at the day end were Robertson/Robertson, who held a lead of nine seconds over Klaus Schaffrath/Andrew Duerden (Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint). Anderson/Lymn Rose were in third, while Crosby/Procter were recovering from their earlier error and were now in fourth place.

Day Two took crews into Croatia, with all competitive sections on the Istria Peninsula. It opened with a test at the Motodrom Porec kart circuit. The test had to be altered to just one lap of the track, as, since the recce, the second entrance/exit had been closed off. With only opening having to be used to access and leave, it was felt that it would have been unsafe to run the original two lap format.

There was a three way tie for fastest time, with Anderson/Lymn Rose, Crosby/Procter and Klaus Mueller/Rolf Pellini (Lancia Fulvia Coupe) sharing the honours.

There were then three regularities amongst the hills in the centre of Istria before the lunch halt. Crosby/Procter put in a superb performance over these and dropped only four seconds during the morning. This moved them up to be on the same penalty total as Schaffrath/Duerden; the Alfa crew now led on a tie break, having picked up a smaller penalty than Crosby/Procter at the first timing point of the event.

Also having a good day were Mark Godfrey/Sue Godfrey (MG B); they added just seven seconds to their total and were now in fifth place.

Three more regularities took crews back to Portoroz for a second overnight halt. Crosby/Procter took the lead on Reg 2/4, but then lost it on the final section of the day as they dropped nine seconds at one timing point. This meant that Anderson/Lymn Rose hit the front for the first time. At the Day End they held a one second lead over the Porsche team.

Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan were now third on the leader board, but, as they were in a Category 4 car, they weren't eligible for overall awards; they were simply leading Class 5.

Day Three took competitors all the way through the length of Slovenia from the Adriatic coast to the Hungarian border at Terme Olimia.

The day started with a test at a kart track at Koper. Once again, Anderson/Lymn Rose were fastest, three seconds ahead of Crosby/Procter.

On the second regularity the Lotus Cortina of Chris Kemp/Sid Sadique developed a leak in an oil pipe. They were delayed, but got going again. They avoided a time penalty at the morning coffee halt by one minute and from being OTL at Lunch by four minutes.

There was a change at the front of the field in the morning as Anderson/Lymn Rose got stuck behind a logging lorry, this led to them being 49 seconds late at a timing point. They dropped to third, losing out on a tie break to a recovering Robertson/Robertson. Meanwhile, Crosby/Procter now found themselves with a 18 second lead over Bloxidge/Canavan.

Classic Marathon 2023
Spirit of the Rally Winners: Alican Eric/Ali Eric (Anadol STC-16)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

During the afternoon Bloxidge/Canavan closed the gap to 10 seconds, but Crosby/Procter still led. With the Golf crew not being eligible for overall awards, the top seeds now held an overall lead of 49 seconds over Anderson/Lymn Rose.

Former leaders Schaffrath/Duerden were now slipping down the field as their Alfa's gearbox started to play up; they lost reverse, which made overshoots a time-consuming error. At the end of Day Three they were in eighth place overall.

The route moved into its third country on Day Four, as the event went north into Austria. There were five regularities, but these made little difference to the top six positions, which all remained the same, with the leading crews evenly matched.

Further back, Paul Taylor/Paul Haslam (Ford Escort RS2000) were moving up; they were on the same penalties as the top competitors for the morning and now led Class 3 in eleventh place.

A large chunk of the latter part of the field were badly delayed on the regularity prior to Lunch, when they encountered a logging truck loading up; nominal times were awarded to those affected.

After a lunch halt at Stift St George, a test was tackled at the driver training centre at FTZ Mobling. As had become the pattern, Anderson/Lymn Rose took fastest time here, with Crosby/Procter second.

Two regularities, plus a second test, completed the competition for the day, with the overnight halt at Schladming. At the test Anderson/Lymn Rose recorded their fifth fastest time from six tests.

The leader board had settled down and the top five remained unchanged, however, in a family battle, Paul Wignall/Annabel Jones (Alfa Romeo Giuiletta Sprint) moved ahead of Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage (Alfa Romeo Giuila Sprint) to secure fifth place overnight.

There was an early start on Day Five as a test and regularity were being run on a closed road hill climb at Stoderzinken. Crosby/Procter were best on the regularity, they cleaned the section. Behind them Taylor/Haslam continued their good run, dropping just two seconds.

As expected, Anderson/Lymn Rose were quickest on the test, however their morning became unstuck on the third regularity as they missed a feature indicating a speed change; they were 43 seconds early at one timing point and 31 late at the next. This dropped them behind Godfrey/Godfrey for second place overall.

The day finished with two tests at the AMZS Driving Training Centre, near Ceplje. The first test crossed the wet skid pad and as their Porsche hit the following dry tarmac, event leaders, Crosby/Procter ground to a halt; a half shaft had snapped. They were out.

This put Bloxidge/Canavan at the head of the leader board, with a lead of almost a minute. However the battle for the overall win was now between Godfrey/Godfrey and Anderson/Lymn Rose. As usual, the latter had been fastest on the first test, but almost went wrong on the second and were only ninth quickest. Honours on that test were taken by Klaus Mueller/Rolf Pellini (Lancia Fulvia Coupe), who were making a late charge up the leader board.

There was further drama at AMZS, when the Lotus Cortina of Kemp/Sadique sprung a new oil leak, this caused an engine fire, the car only being saved by swift action by Martin Lamb/Robin Crees and the sweep crews.

Classic Marathon 2023
Class 2 Winners: Klaus Mueller/Rolf Pellini (Lancia Fulvia Coupe)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

After a night in Ljubljana, competitors embarked on the final day of competition, which consisted on seven regularities. The first was on gravel roads and had ambitious average speeds. All three timing points were on triangles. Nigel Woof/Sally Woof (Alfa Romeo Giuila Sprint), who had been in fifth place overnight, wrong slotted for over ten minutes and fell to seventh at the lunch halt.

Two crews put in impressive performances during the morning, with the best being from Mueller/Pellini, who moved up to ninth. Meanwhile, Philip Armstrong/Peter Rushforth (Volvo PV544), who had dropped back after a wrong test at AMZS, were now in fifth.

The weather had been hot and sunny throughout the event, but things were to change over the last two regularities as crews headed back to Bled and the Finish. Heavy thunder storms with torrential rain and hail stones made the going extremely hard.

Godfrey/Godfrey lost half their lead over these sections, but arrived at the Finish with an advantage of 30 seconds over Anderson/Lymn Rose, to take their third Marathon win. Armstrong/Rushforth and Mueller/Pellini both continued their strong finish and came through to take third and fourth places respectively.

Paul Bloxidge/Ian Canavan ended the event at the top of the leader board; 1m 20s ahead of the rest of the field. They won Class 5 and Canavan secured the Clockwatchers' Award for the best total performance over the 35 regularities. The Test Pilot Award was won by Marcus Anderson.