Monte Carlo or Bust Rally: Black Forest Gateau 2023 | Many Minis, poorly jags... and Celine Dion!
The mighty Black Forest Gateau never fails to deliver and once again we enjoyed an emotional roller coaster of sun, sea, sand and snow - with a dusting of the usual bizarre behaviours!
This amazing long weekender in Namur with a registration evening filled with strips, sun hats and some inflatable. sumo. Namur's famous market suare was buzzing as usual as teams set-about the ice breaker challenge with various degrees of cheating and bribery to set the tone for the weekend. Many teams were on time and had all their paperwork. Some weren't (you know who you are). A few sheepish looks from rally regulars at the teams driving Rovers.
There were a few sleep heads on Friday morning as over 40 teams followed the twists and turns up to the spectacular Citadelle dn Namur for the start line. At first it felt like a Mini invasion as The Self Preservation Society Collective were joined by several other members of the club.
Thankfully more started to arrive and we had a fine mix of motors ranging from the Jags, to Beetles to London Taxis. We even had a lovely Ford Capri. And yes - the Rovers both made it up the hill.
And then we were off! The first leg of our adventure was to head to Germany and complete photo challenges along the way. At the bottom of the hill we had our first overheating engine and a couple of teams who failed to get out of bed in time for the start!
We quickly left the pot-hole ridden roads of Belgium and on to the tax-dodging super loveliness of Luxembourg with it's mix of greenery, lakes and brilliant service station toilets. Teams were busy snapping away with challenges including rockets, bunk beds and ride-on mowers.
Back into France and then a final crossing into Germany. Home of the amazing Black Forest and our home for the evening - Freiburg. Despite a Jaguar getting a bit poorly on the way, all our teams made it. The City was packed out but we soon made ourselves at home; exchanging stories of condom translations, lost exhausts and new friendships with hitch-hikers. As evening set-in the conversation turned to the next day and the challenge of The Alps and our journey into Italy.
Early Saturday morning and 150+ rally folks were slapping on the factor 50 in their togas as were prepared to head South to the mountains. Togas were the theme for the day - most of the covering all of the important bits.
The drive through Switzerland was a real test for teams with rain and thunderstorms. The heat finally kicked in as we hit the mountains and several cars struggled with climb. To be fair, the Rovers made light work of it and we were more concerned about the water pistol fights, which were by now getting out of hand.
Hot pads, smoking wheels and few twists and turns later and we were down the other side of Gotthard pass and over the border to Italy. The weather remained changeable as teams battled to completed their scavenger hunt with items including CDs, lego and inflatables. Some teams just opted for the pool instead.
Our evening in beautiful Menaggio was as memorable as ever. Not only for its beauty - but for the team that booked a hotel on the opposite side of the lake, for the dropped pizza and for that strange red drink that seemed to keep appearing. Never the less, we had some brilliant performances on the challenges and it was a tense finish as the clock struck midnight.
A relaxed start on the Sunday morning, plenty of time to explore, find your car (if you were the team that forgot where they parked) and enjoy the amazing drive around the lake - waving at George Clooney's house on the way. The fine weather returned as we hit the coastal roads and entered French territory yet again. It wasn't long before we arrived in the glitz and glamour (and heatwave) of Monaco - and it time to complete your lap of the circuit - most of which was still set-up for the F1 from the prior weekend.
It was amazing to watch our teams be cheered at they entered Casino Square with many of the cars getting much more attention than the near-by Lambos and Ferraris. After completing laps and exploring the Principality it was time to hit the road to Nice in search of hot showers and air conditioning!
Ma Nolans was the setting for celebrating all of our teams crossing the finish line. Medals and trophies were presented and we danced the night away to the amazing band on stage. Well done to all our teams! Thank you all for taking part, it was an honour to share it with you all.
Roll of honour:
Champions: The Tubbies
Runners up: Prop & Prostate
Best Dressed Team: Model Tie Ford
Best Dressed Car: Rusticle Roadtrips
Best Team Spirit: Wight Knuckle Flamingos