Austria’s Silvretta Classic regularity rally is just getting underway. “It’s like ‘the Mille’, but the organisation’s a bit better and the scenery’s more spectacular.”
That’s how Steve Cropley described the event to a bloke who’s never even done a regularity rally before, let alone one that runs up beyond 2000 metres of altitude: me.
We’re here to take in the incredible mix of priceless classics and Alpine splendour, and to try to bring in our car – an Opel Ampera – home roughly when our timing sheets say we should.
The Ampera’s entered in the Silvretta E-Rally, a shorter version of the event for classics that incorporates an efficiency challenge as well as a regularity challenge.
Over three days we’ve got just over 200 timed miles to drive, which are themselves littered with other little timed challenges. One of them involves rolling the car, in neutral, down a fairly steep hill, and covering exactly 150 metres in exactly 15 seconds. The regularity experts will be able to nail this to within less than a tenth, they tell me. Oh dear.
For now, we’re waiting for our starting slot, watching the ‘oldtimers’ file past, all of them in absolutely stunning condition. My favourite was the lovely BMW 507 that just spluttered and hummed its way past – but having said that, the line of about ten immaculate 1950s Mercedes 300SL roadsters wasn’t a sight I’ll forget in a hurry.
We’ll be up against it to finish well in the competition. There’s a Smart Fortwo ED here which I fancy to win the efficiency section tomorrow, and if it’s well-driven, possibly the whole E Rally. If that misses, we’ve got a Tesla Roadster Sport, Audi R8 eTron and Mercedes SLS AMG eCell to worry about too. And neither me or my co-driver has any regularity experience.
Our plan is to break ourselves in gently today, and ramp up the effort tomorrow and Saturday. So here goes nothing.