Winning start for rally first timers

FOR an all female driving team - competing together for the first time in one of the most prestigious classic car rallies in the UK - just completing the race would have been considered a victory.

Lizzie Parry

FOR an all female driving team - competing together for the first time in one of the most prestigious classic car rallies in the UK - just completing the race would have been considered a victory.

And so no-one was more surprised to see them win than they were.

Emma Henchoz and Jeanne Taylor took part in the three-day Tour Britannia, covering 720 miles from Cambridge to Cheshire.


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In a 1960 Volvo PV544 - with Mrs Henchoz driving and Mrs Taylor navigating - the pair came first in the Regularity competition with a six second lead, having led from the start.

Mrs Henchoz, 38, from Brundish, near Framlingham, a classic car enthusiast, told of her surprise at achieving so much at the first time of asking.

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“It was a lovely thing to win, we were very proud to have done it on our first attempt,” she said. “On the first day we were very surprised to be winning, and by the last day we were quite terrified, because we knew we could do it if we didn't make too many mistakes.

“By the last day though we were both tired and very jittery and it felt like we were making more mistakes - but then I think everyone was.

“It is a pretty prestigious race to win; we certainly did not expect to come first, especially as it was the first time we had rallied together. We were on such a high, grinning from ear to ear.”

The race covered some of the most famous tracks in the UK including Snetterton and Hethel Lotus in Norfolk, Silverstone - where the British Grand Prix is held, Mallory Park in Leicestershire and Oulton Park in Cheshire.

At each track they had to complete five laps, ensuring the third and fourth lap on each was completed in exactly the same time. Any variations led to penalties.

“The opportunity to drive on so many famous tracks was fantastic,” Mrs Henchoz said. “It was great fun, a lovely event to do, we saw lots of things and did lots of things you wouldn't normally be allowed to do.”

As well as track racing the Suffolk crew faced the gruelling task of navigating unknown country roads, steering clear of main roads, in a regularity exercise.

“Traffic is something you just have to put up with,” she said. “You could come across cows, horses, people - who knows? There are no allowances for it at all, it is part of road rallying - it is a fine art.”

The final section of the competition tested accuracy - where teams had to complete circuits of specific tracks, at a specific speed, usually between 35 and 40 miles per hour.

Despite the tense atmosphere and pressure charged conditions there was no bickering or arguing.

Mrs Henchoz said: “It was very harmonious in our car, we didn't argue once, unlike when we both race with our husbands.”

The pair won their chance to compete in the famous rally - which took place at the beginning of September - after Mrs Taylor and her husband Bob, from Surrey, won the Tour of Cheshire earlier in the year.

Mrs Henchoz and her husband Rob - who met the Taylors while rallying - run Amazon Cars in Brundish, specialising in classic Volvos.

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