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7th London Lisboa


25th April-4th May 2024

London Lisbon Classic Rally 2024
Winners: Graham Platts/Neil Ripley (Austin Healey 100M)
Photograph: © HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

Organiser: HERO-ERA

Date: 25th April-4th May 2024

Clerk of the Course: Guy Woodcock

Deputy Clerk of the Course: Nick Reeves

Countries: UK, France, Spain & Portugal

Starters: 46

The seventh running of the London Lisboa started at what had become the traditional start point, the Brooklands Museum, with the opening test using the famous banking. Forty-six cars took the start at 10:00 on Thursday morning.

After an opening day in the South of England lanes, the route took crews through Western France, Spain and Portugal.

An innovation for the 2024 edition of the event introduced a new concept, two Jokers. A Joker reduces the largest lateness penalty on a regularity to 15 seconds; this to prevent competitors from being heavily penalised if they're held up by traffic, or such. Due to the ten day duration of the London Lisboa, it was decided that there would be two Jokers available, one for the first five days and a second for the final five days.

Paul Crosby/Pete Johnson (Porsche 911) took first honours by being fastest on the opening test, although with class improvement scoring being used, nine crews were clean of penalties as they left Brooklands.

The Datsun 240Z of Roy Stephenson/Peter Robinson was in trouble immediately as suspension travel caused a brake pipe to split. A temporary repair was made by the mechanics, which allowed the car to continue until a replacement part was fitted.

Two regularities took competitors to the Wilton House, just outside Salisbury, where a second test was tackled immediately before the lunch halt.

Crosby/Johnson were fastest once again on the Wilton test, this gave them a three second lead at the halt. Dick Baines/Harry Baines were in second place, just a second ahead of David Liddell/Ed Liddell.

The top three places remained the same over the two regularities that took the route from Wilton to Portsmouth, and the overnight ferry to St Malo. However, Baines/Baines had closed the gap to the leaders by a second.

The rally reassembled at Loheac Motor Museum for day that headed almost directly south, taking in two tests and three regularities, before the overnight halt at La Rochelle.

The lead was maintained throughout the day by Crosby/Johnson, who were fastest on the first test; Tony Sutton/Aidan Mawhinney were quickest on the second test. The best performance of the day, dropping just 6 seconds; this moved them up to second place overall at La Rochelle.

Day 3, Saturday, continued the southward journey, ending the day at Bordeaux. There were four regularities, but no tests. While the top three positions remained the same at the Day End, Michael Moss/James Ewing had been over two minutes early at the second timing point of the day; with the penalties been so close, this dropped them from fourth to sixteenth place.

Rain fell for most of the day, so it was a major problem for John Whitelock/Nicole Whitelock when the wipers on their Lancia Fulvia failed.

From Bordeaux Day 4 took the event in Spain, with the overnight halt at San Sebastian. The route to the second timing point on the third regularity caused issues for many crews. Crosby/Johnson took the wrong turning and lost four minutes. They were fortunate in two respects; firstly, the Joker reduced their penalty to 15 seconds, and, secondly, their nearest rivals, Ken Binstead/Sarah Binstead made the same mistake at the same point and triggered their Joker.

At the end of the day, Crosby/Johnson had in fact extended their lead, albeit to just four seconds, from Binstead/Binstead. Baines/Baines were now back in third place, as Liddell/Liddell lost time with their TR4's coil; they fell to seventh.

In more serious trouble was the MG C GT of David McNeill/Noel Kelly; it suffered a water pump. Despite strenuous efforts, they were unable to source a replacement part and they became the only retirement of the event.

London Lisbon Classic Rally 2024
Test Pilot Winner: Paul Crosby/Ali Procter (Porsche 911)
Photograph: © HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent

At almost 430 kilometres, Day 5 was the longest of the rally, finishing in the midst of the Rioja country. There were four regs and two tests, which finished the day.

Crosby/Johnson were fastest on both tests and this helped them extended their lead to a massive seven seconds. There was now a tight tussle for second place, as Graham Platts/Neil Ripley put in the best performance of the day and were now tied with Binstead/Binstead, who had problem - their Austin Healey's clutch slave cylinder failed on the final reg. A frantic search was then on for a replacement part.

Day 6 was a half day, giving competitors time to relax and enjoy the delights of Salamanca, scene of the overnight halt. The day's competition saw no changes to the top 15 places, although Platts/Ripley pulled clear of Binstead/Binstead, to hold a clear second place. The latter crew had struggled through the day with only third gear available, but they had managed to source a spare part, it arrived during the evening and was fitted by the sweeps.

Spain gave way to Portugal on Day 7, with the overnight halt at Lamego. There were four regularities to tackle.

There was a shake up at the front as Crosby/Johnson, amongst others, saw a trick with the route through a village, where there was no trick. They had to rely on the Joker to save them, but, in such a tight contest, this dropped them to third. Platts/Ripley were now in the lead, four seconds ahead of Binstead/Binstead.

Two runs up the Caramulo hill climb were the highlight of Day 8, which also finished with a run over the highest point in Portugal, where snow still lay around and a freezing wind was blowing.

The first regularity of the day caused further problems for erstwhile leaders, Crosby/Johnson; they turned right when they should have turned left and were three minutes late at the following timing point. With their Joker already used, they had to take the full maximum one minute penalty for the control. This dropped them to fifth at the day end.

On the final timing point of the third reg of the day Platts/Ripley were 33 seconds late, after a short wrong slot; the Joker reduced this to 15 seconds, but it was enough to put Binstead/Binstead in the lead, if only by one second. Baines/Baines were now in third, while Liddell/Liddell put in the best performance of the day to move up to fourth.

A route that included three regularities took competitors across from the mountains of central Portugal to the coastal plains on the penultimate day.

At the end of the day, in the monastery at Alcobaca, the difference between first and second was still one second, but it was now Platts/Ripley who were in front of Binstead/Binstead, the former having put in the best performance of the day.

It was a tense final day as the two oldest cars in the event fought for victory. There were three regularities and two tests to decide the result. On the first reg, Platts/Ripley dropped three seconds, while Binstead/Binstead added four to their total. The two were the only cars in their class and they shared honours on the two tests, with each taking fastest time on one test. The two crews were so evenly matched that they both dropped the same amount of time over the two final regularities, so it was Platts/Ripley who arrived at the Estoril finish to claim their maiden rally victory.

Binstead/Binstead were three seconds behind to secure the runner up spot, 26 seconds ahead of Baines/Baines, who completed the podium places. Sarah Binstead also secured the Clockwatchers Award for the least total of penalties accumulated over the event's 34 regularity.

Paul Crosby won the Test Pilot Award for the lowest total time over the rally's 12 tests; his total was almost a minute and a half less than any other driver.

London Lisbon Classic Rally 2024
Photograph: © HERO-ERA/Will Broadbent