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In a finish worthy of a Hollywood movie, the ground-breaking Road to Mandalay rally was won on the end of a rope!

Driving a 1968 Volvo 142S, popular Portuguese couple Jose and Maria Romao de Sousa took the lead midway through the three-week H&H Classic Rallies event, following the retirement of previous leaders Gerd and Birgit Buehler, whose 1936 BMW 327/38 suffered engine damage on a regularity section around the spectacular Bagan Temple Zone.

After almost 1500 trouble-free miles, the Volvo crew approached the finish at Yangon (Rangoon) with a comfortable 39-second lead over the 1971 BMW 2800 CS of Roger Allen and Maggie Gray, but were sidelined within a mile of the flag by a broken throttle linkage. Happily, this made no difference to the final results, and the winners crossed the line on the end of a tow rope to warm applause.

Organised by H&H Classic Rallies, the Road to Mandalay was the very first competitive rally held in Myanmar (Burma) and has been acclaimed as a huge success, with particular praise for the country and its people. Experienced 1937 Chevrolet driver Xavier del Marmol called it “The best rally I have ever done in my life,” while well-travelled Ford Model A co-driver Barbara Shooter described it as “A stupendous rally, really outstanding and extremely well organised.”

Attention now turns to the 2nd Paris-Madrid Rally, scheduled for 22-25 May. Several well-known names in the classic rally world have already reserved their places on the event, and confirmed car marques so far include Alvis, Bentley, Ford, Jaguar, Lagonda, Peugeot, Riley and Rolls-Royce.

As in 2013, period-dressed crews will compete for the Charles Jarrott Trophy, in honour of the pioneering British driver who led the infamous Paris-Madrid Race in 1903. Halted at Bordeaux after a series of terrible accidents, that ill-fated contest was the last of the great city-to-city races and was almost forgotten until H&H launched a prestigious new reliability trial to mark last year’s 110th anniversary.

Attracting 52 crews from 18 nations and won by Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings in a 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C, the event was immediately established as a highlight of the motoring year.

The 2014 event will again start from the Trianon Palace in Versailles, but an improved route will travel via Limoges and Pamplona, to finish at Alcala de Henares, a medieval World Heritage site on the outskirts of Madrid, famed as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.

The rally is open to all pre-WW2 cars and has been designed to offer every participant an equal chance of winning. The £3,500 entry fee includes accommodation (with breakfast) for the nights of 22-25 May inclusive, group dinners (including the gala prizegiving), parking, breakdown support, rally plates, road book, finishers’ awards and prizes.

More details of the Road to Mandalay, Paris-Madrid and other H&H Classic Rallies may be found at http://www.hhclassicrallies.com.

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