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2011 2nd Euro Balade Tour 3rd Sep

2nd EURO-BALADE FRANCO-BELGE CABRIOLET-SPORT-PRESTIGE

3rd SEPTEMBER 2011

 

Another trip across the channel for Dippy and crew to compete on a what was a new event to us, jointly organised by the Kemmel Historic Comite in Belgium and the Legend Car Organisation in France. Nick and Jill Jones were also taking the trip, making this the maiden excursion for their MGB across the Channel.

 

The start of the event was at the small town of Steenwerck on the France-Belgium boarder. We assembled in the town hall car park with the other 50 plus entries and enjoyed a breakfast of croissants and coffee - as well as the signing-on formalities - in the local café. On checking the paperwork, the first thing to shock the British entries was the omission of any distances between the tulip diagrams. The idea was to keep driving until the next tulip fitted and then make the appropriate turn. The diagrams were very descriptive and most junctions were to be shown in the road book with the exception of dirt roads, no through roads and one way roads. Great care was going to be needed not to miss even a hole in the hedge!

 

The first few miles went well for Dippy and crew until we came across a number of competitors coming in the opposite direction! This had been caused by a tulip that was not quite as per the road and so we joined the turn round and retraced our steps to the last known junction. The other dimension to the French section of this event was the inclusion of CSs or Security Controls, the locations of which were shown on the route card. These were small white letters, stuck to the stop sign poles at the entrance to a major road – but some were not visible from the car! These letters had to be recorded on the route card - another great idea to keep us all on the right route. On top of this were CPS points (Secret Passage Control) - these were 20cm square signs showing French Oil and Motor Company logos. Very hard for us Brits!

 

The choice of the narrow French roads and many 90 degree bends was making for a very interesting Saturday morning’s motoring. After passing through Le Steen’t Je and close to Meteren, the first break of the day came at a small country garage that was full of English sports cars for sale - quite unique! Here there was a display of motoring photographs to be identified and the answers recorded.

 

The 102 tulip diagrams covered so far brought us to the small town of Herzeele for the first drinks’ break of the day, with more questions to answer during the 15 minute pause. A further 78 tulip diagrams - plus more CS and CPS points - brought us to the end of the second section. For the 10k plus run to the lunch halt there was a black and white marked map - yet another challenge for the crews. The excellent lunch break was taken at the Restaurant le St Eloi, just outside the town of Watou.

Suitably refreshed and rested, we started on the Kemmel Club’s half of the event. The good news here was that we had now returned to kilometre distances between the tulips, but, like previous Belgian events, there were 12 randomly placed code boards and 10 pictures of items to be identified on the route, plus the recording of the first three letters of numerous road names. A lot of observation was now required! The roads in Belgium were a little more open than in France, but still very demanding. After a further 70 tulips, we arrived for the afternoon break at Bistro Brazil. This was very welcome as the temperatures were now 30 degrees plus. Motoring on for another 55 junctions, passing by lakes and beautiful canals, brought the event to an end in the town of Boezinge, quite close to Iper.

 

At 18.00 hours, the results for the two halves of the event were declared - for the French run the Jones family were 12th overall, with us being 24th. For the Belgian section, we could only manage 23rd overall, but the Joneses managed an equal second with four other crews, with the award going to our fellow Brits for competing in the oldest car.

 

Congratulations to both clubs for an outstanding event - the route and paperwork (produced in Dutch, French and English) were first class. The great plus-point of competing here is the quietness of the country roads; we covered over 200 kms and encountered very little local traffic and those we did meet were very enthusiastic about seeing all the old cars. This will be our last continental event for 2011, but we look forward to the next Kemmel event in April 2012. Also in August there is to be special event over the Bank Holiday, especially aimed at British crews - check out the Kemmel Historic Comite website for more information. We hope to be there.

 

Our sincere thanks once again to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in compiling this report.

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy    

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