London-Sydney Marathon 2004 announced

London to Sydney Marathon in 2004. This time for modern Showroom Cars. For the first time in 36 years the famous London-Sydney Marathon will be run for modern showroom cars. In 1968 Scotsman Andrew Cowan created history winning the original ...

London to Sydney Marathon in 2004.
This time for modern Showroom Cars.

For the first time in 36 years the famous London-Sydney Marathon will be run for modern showroom cars.

In 1968 Scotsman Andrew Cowan created history winning the original event in a Hillman Hunter. The Hillman was a typical showroom saloon car of the day.

In June 2004 this icon of long distance rallies will be run to FIA regulations for showroom cars under 2-litres. There will also be a category for pre-1978 Classics.

"We really are going back to the spirit of '68," said organiser Nick Brittan. "By restricting it to 2-litre cars (no 4wd, no turbo) we keep it cheap and make it possible for amateurs, even first timers, to take part. Just as they did in '68."

Brittan, whose Trans World Events company is the world leader in long haul rallies, well remembers the '68 event for he was part of the British Ford team in a Cortina.

The modern day equivalent of the old Hillman and the Cortina is the Ford Focus, Peugeot 306, Holden Astra, Renault Clio, VW Golf or a Honda -- the list is endless.

"It's all about keeping it affordable," says Brittan. "It's possible to take a car a couple of years old and fit the safety bits the FIA require for around $6,000 (£3,900). We're not talking about the million dollar exotica that Colin McRae drives in the world rally championship. We're talking about a car that can be put together for around $30,000 (£19,450)."

15,000 kms across three Continents

Competitors will face a tough 30-day route of around 600 kms a day with two or three special stages timed to the second over both tarmac and gravel roads. From the London start the route winds through rural France to take in stages from the famous San Remo rally. Then part of the Mille Miglia route in Italy, a night ferry across the Adriatic into Greece for stages from the world championship Acropolis rally. A rest day in Istanbul and then into eastern Turkey for an airlift to India using two giant Russian Antonov cargo planes.

From Bangalore it's six days in southern India through tea and coffee plantations in the hill country that is still a freeze frame of the long gone days of the Raj. Then another airlift into the heart of Australia's Red Centre at Alice Springs.

Ayers Rock and the opal mines at Coober Pedy are two of the night stops before the event goes into its own tented camps for two nights across the Simpson Desert heading towards Brisbane.

Then the lush green coastal route will take competitors through banana plantations and eventually into Sydney and to the worlds most famous Opera House.

In 1968 there were 98 starters and 56 finishers. "We'll have 95 starters," said Brittan. "That's the capacity of two Antonovs and I think we'll have a much higher finish rate. Modern cars are much stronger and more reliable than they were 36 years ago."

The Costs

The entry fee for two people and their car is US$ 38,000 (£24,600). Not cheap but it provides a container for the car and two air tickets from Sydney to London, hotels room and breakfast, all the ferries and airlifts during the event, insurance and a whole lot more.

"It was one of the great adventure drives back in '68," said Brittan. "It will be a huge adventure again this time."

What the class of '68 say

Winner Andrew Cowan, now the boss of the Mitsubishi world rally team, said, "Doing it in modern cars is a great idea. It will provide the same sort of thrills that we had back in '68. And by excluding turbo and 4wd cars it will make it cheap for the competitor."

Australian Ian Vaughan, recently retired as a Director of Engineering for Ford Australia, who finished third in a Falcon in '68 and second in the very same car in '93, said, "A modern rally-prepared car is lots cheaper that a Classic to the power of three. It's a great idea to change the format to encourage lots of younger drivers with smaller budgets. And even 36 years on it's still one of the greatest car adventures on the planet."

-www.twerally.com

London-Sydney Marathon 1968 revisited

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Colin McRae