By David Whitney
What a superb XIX edition of the Rally Clasico of Mallorca over three days of close racing in all categories of those taking part in what is certainly one of the prestigious events of the island. The roads and hills were filled with the noise of the engines which to fans is music to their ears.The roads and the mountain sections filled the hearts of the sound of engines for all pilots, navigators and fans lining the closed sections of the rally from the start of the Rally at 6pm on Thursday 9th March to it’s finish on Saturday afternoon. The organisers with Toni Dezcallar steering the Rally for the 125 teams taking part must be praised as do all on the Rally Organisers team. The Rally just does not happen. It takes so much planning and discussions with Councils to use public roads and to close certain sections to the public allowing the drivers to take their cars to their full potential.
For some classes the cars are real rally cars made for racing whilst others, especially the older classic cars are doing their best to keep to timed sections. So time is vital for some and winning as the fastest is the goal for other classes of cars taking part. Whatever class you are in all were delighted as the cold and wet weather of past weeks passed to bright sunshine, warm and dry. The perfect conditions for the Rally. I am sure that the days chosen by Toni is a sign of good weather to come as I have been to all the Rallies and for the most part we have been blessed by wonderful weather. Long may that continue for the 2024 Rally. It was well worth the visit on Day 1, the start day. I was not alone as the pits were crowded with fans, families and enthusiasts of such beautiful, powerful cars. All were immaculate with many of course, the real rally cars of old painted in their livery with sponsors names adorning the bodywork and others in the original signage of the sponsors of their era. To see the cars close up was something that many had not done before so a treat for photographers and for children who have never seen such cars in real life. Who said that electric is the future.
For me and the huge crowd of fans walking the pits, seeing the cars and seeing each start later in the day, the noise, the smell of the petrol engines, watching each team prepare their car is something that electric cars can never compete with. Petrol heads were filling the pits, meeting drivers, talking to each other and I for one hope that this continues as this is an event that brings so many together from not just Mallorca but throughout Europe as well. The tv coverage, radio coverage, the many media writers on the rally from here and afar put Mallorca on the map. The restaurants, bars and hotels and the publicity for the island cannot be underestimated. Not only that and as I reported in my last article on the rally the organisers recognise sustainability and work on raising awareness of the unique countryside we often take for granted. The Organisers as mentioned before support the planting of over 1000 olive trees in areas such as Cala Tuent as was the case in 2022. A long day was had by me, taking photos and talking to friends, drivers and to strangers never met before so new friends made and a big hello to others that I do not see so often.
The Classic Car Club members were out in force and a fine selection of MG’s, Triumphs, jaguars and Alfas. Lancias and the good old Ford Escorts were to be admired. Porsche rules they say and indeed they did with Porsches from many different years, from Germany mostly but what a turn out for those who love the Porsche. So the Rally begun at 6pm with each car being presented to the huge crowd at the start line and along the roadside. Each car had to take a sharp left aafter the start up the hill and out of Puerto Portals for stage one of the Rally. The engines did indeed roar and the smiles on the faces of the crowd was of delight as the pilots and co-pilots waved although many concentrated with helmets on and in car radio communication between each other to follow the route laid down on the maps given to each team.I know some teams just compete in the Rally for fun whilst others are professionals and rally all over Europe so speed is paramount and it showed on many stages. Sadly, the recent storms led to a few sections being closed but a new section between Lluc to Puigmajor replaced the Sa Calobra section but all teams enjoyed this new route so no disappointments. Another job well done by the Organisers at such short notice.
It was a close race in many class categories and the Rally winners overall was not decided until the final stretch with the leaders changing places throughout the 3 days. It was great for Mallorca as the “Young Timers” category was won by Mallorcan David Garcia and Rudy Hensen in their 1995 Renault Clio Maxi so a team of the future. However, for me it was a delight to see that the British pilot Seb Perez was proclaimed speed champion of the rally and winner. His third triumph in the Rally. And yes, it was a Porsche that won. A Porsche 911 Carrera RS of 1975. So congratulations were in place after a tremendous 3 days of hard driving, early mornings and much work to do each day to make sure that your car was ready for the next morning. Great fun, and excitement for all who raced or just came along to watch. Long may that continue as the Director Toni Dezcallar thanked all teams for taking part at the prize giving and encouraged all to look out for details of the plans for 2024 on the website www.rallyislamallorca.com Do also check out the site for all details of the winners and photos from the rally.
So I thank all who made this another special event especially Toni and GenaroTrigo Izquierdo for their support of Celebrity magazine and providing me with daily updates as the rally unfolded. Celebrity magazine is now online monthly and in addition there are also many interesting articles online so do please visit our website at www.celebritymallorca.es. Subscribe to our free newsletter and enjoy what is, we believe the best magazine on the island. So start your reading and engines!!