The Rally of the Tests 2017: the final results

The dust has settled on the Goodwood Revival of car rallies, and we have a winner.

A frantic final day of competition under the textured Yorkshire skies brought the pack leaders agonisingly close together. Three full days of timing trials, navigation tricks and speed tests could barely separate the best teams.

The results are in and it was Martyn Taylor who navigated his driver John Abel to the spoils, the experienced pair finishing first of the eligible teams in their beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint.

One of the prettiest cars in the field, it placed behind three ineligible classics on the road after the three full days and prologue event, but we suspect they don’t really mind.

Their time – an accumulation of their losses versus perfection – was 10m57s.

Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan, the favourites for the event, were the bittersweet victors in their #27 Porsche 911 with a time total of 8m25s, but that car was a late, ineligible and much faster substitute for the Porsche 356 they’d intended to bring. 

Alas, poor Yorick, the 356 wasn’t ready for the rigours of this toughest of classic cars rallies and the duo had to pull out of the official fight for the win.

Not to worry; they seemed to have a good time anyway.

Worse off by just seven seconds after about 750 charismatic miles in a Morris Mini Cooper S were driver Steve Entwistle and navigator Ali Proctor.

The 1275cc ankle-biter is all the proof rally fans could ask for that size and power aren’t everything.

Handling, on the other hand, is pretty important.

Watching the dark blue #73 Citroen DS21 pitch and roll its slow, graceful way around the Tockwith go-kart track was like watching a lumbering ocean liner navigate Storm Brian.

It was probably the only time the pair were any less than perfectly comfortable over the whole event, bless them.

The Rally of the Tests wouldn’t be what it is without some breakdowns, and there were plenty.

The #23 Volvo PV544 of Simon and Niall Frost had a defective brake pipe early on, while the #47 MGB GT caught fire almost immediately, owing to some dodgy electrics.

It was only a small blaze and before long a re-wire had got them back on the road. C’est la vie when it comes to classic cars. It’s all in a day’s fun, games and rallying!

More serious was the snapped driveshaft for the #38 1965 Porsche 911 SWB.

Driver Daniel Gresly and co-pilot Max Behrndt were never likely to recover from the time lost, and finished close to the bottom of the field.

Likewise, the pairing of Beaumont and Fish had to retire early on with terminal engine top-end issues.

As for the weird and wonderful side, and there always is one, the Bentley Derby 41/2 of Stuart Anderson and Leigh Powley stole the show. 

The 1938-vintage beast’s long bonnet and open cabin lit-up spectators faces as much as its unique, head-turning power and noise filled the air with deafening history.

The tiny but seriously feisty Minis would fill a highlights reel of their own.

Screeching to a halt in marshals’ timing boxes, wheelspinning away onto the hill climb and handbrake-turning around the runways of Tockwith, the little bundles of character showed a clean pair of heels to a lot of bigger, prouder cars.

There were no major accidents, although the sight of the #36 Volvo 121S from 1965 at full opposite lock on the slippery Oulton Park Rally Stages was one to remember.

It didn’t seem to bother driver Paul Dyas much; he gathered it up and carried on as navigator Andrew Kellitt laughed. That’s the spirit, gents.

That really is the spirit. There’s competition at the top, but it’s all wonderfully good-natured. The best teams want to win and they know they can, but the engines’ roars are quickly replaced with laughter and jokes as the pints are poured on the other side of the finish line.

It feels like one of the great (and greatly under-appreciated) British institutions, and long may it continue.

READ NEXT: A review of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2017​