We are delighted to have continued longstanding partnerships with many global brands and to have welcomed so many new event partners into the fold to enable us to execute HBR 2008 to a unique standard.
Jaguar Cars Ltd has always been supportive of the 'Run. This year, to celebrate sixty years of the XK, their involvement has been at an unprecedented level.
The Jaguar XKRS and the XFS V8 proved to be the two most capable vehicles yet of taking on the behind the scenes work associated with the 'Run. Run Directors and marshalls arrived refreshed and relaxed thanks to the level of comfort afforded by both vehicles and some unique technical features.
The XFS V8 proved to be the most comfortable support car one could wish for. Carrying capabilities in its huge boot allowed us to transport all required for a five day with ease. Automatic braking using radar and blind spot recognition ensured increased safety during the event, as did automatic headlights, wipers and a supremely accurate GPS system.
The XKRS with its sheer grunt and refinement established itself as probably the greatest Grand Tourer ever made. The handling of the vehicle combined with its comfort levels both on event and recce has established this vehicle as the benchmark within the team for other GTs to aspire to.
Thanks to Vodafone, TrackaPhone and Blackberry, HBR 2008 antics were viewed in real time all over the world. Texas, Monaco and Sao Paulo were just three key examples of countries who requested to view. For the 'Run team it was like being part of a video game, as they tracked cars converging on their location.
PowerStarGO allowed competitors to ensure electrical devices were fully charged every night and gave a portable power supply on the move.
BP Ultimate offered the choice of clean and efficient power delivery for competitor vehicles en route.
Casio provided state of the art event timing. The provision of Waveceptor watches ensured healthy competition for prizes and accuracy for the 'Run team. Waveceptor technology allows these stainless steel timepieces to remain accurate by picking up radio signals making timezone transition effortless.
Champagne Taittinger and Louis Jadot ensured competitors were kept refreshed in style when away from the wheel.
Footman James celebrated twenty five years by sponsoring the dinner at Chateau des Ravatys. The DilEmmas, representing Footman James, were the only ladies team on HBR 2008, driving their Maserati GranSport with gusto!
HBR 2008 webstreaming, filmed by Marc Lis, brought the 'Run to life for families, friends and sponsors across the world. Sponsors enjoyed a vast audience on a global scale, giving patronage of a unique event where 100% of competitors' sponsor monies benefit the event's nominated charities.
Teams left Paris in their own time, bound for Blighty. An informal rendez-vous on Eurotunnel resulted in much back slapping and story telling before the pack split to follow their own paths home. A hardcore of teams continued to Sloane Street before lighting up the Kings Road en route to Bluebird for an informal wrap party in the Members Club. A suitably reminiscent, relaxed evening, surrounded by the wonderful memorabilia synonymous with Sir Donald Campbells Bluebird built many years previously on the site.
Emerging from the haze of a spectacular torch lit, firework rich party in Beaujeu. Teams collected their Louis Jadot wines before making a leisurely return to Paris for the black tie prize giving dinner. Unprecedented, Galeries Lafayette welcomed teams to a private dinner on the sixth floor of their iconic establishment. All competitors took a glass of Champagne to the roof top terrace (opened only for their visit) where they took in the most incredible views of Paris by night. The tills remained open to allow those who wished to, to enjoy a little retail therapy amongst Paris' couture. Promptly at 2100hrs the dinner gong was sounded by the store being closed to the public. HBR 2008 reigned supreme.
This is the night that the most competitive had been waiting for. Jeremy Hackett, Chairman and Founder of the brand presented awards and a special Casio Waveceptor timepiece to Paul Brazier and Richard Stokes, John Riley and Nick Kift, John and Maxine Fack, Louise Crichton and Hamish Gordon. L'Esprit du Cours Award was collected by Louise Orpin and Neilsen McConnell for bravely completing the event in their D-Type, amongst other efforts and escapades completed with true Beaujolais spirit. John Young and Bradley Baker proudly collected the Wooden Spoon Award due to a route more based on gastronomy than navigation!
A standing ovation welcomed Alex Burns, father of the late WRC Champion Richard Burns, as he rose to collect the award for the GT1 Maps Only navigation class. Alex competed in his RB320, number 1 of 320, built to commemorate Richard. Alex was ably assisted by Peter Martin, a true Scotsman, one of many to arrive at Galeries Lafayette, sans pantalons, in traditional dress. Peter wanted to ensure that his win was dedicated to his Mum, who we know is an avid voyeur of the HBR 2008 blog - a big "Hello" to Peter's Mum!
Dawn broke over London as we made our way to the Michelin building in Kensington, site of Sir Terence Conran's Bibendum restaurant. A planned ferry strike at Dover dictated a rolling start to ensure teams had time on their side en route to Eurotunnel. The 'Run is made up of a series of money can't buy experiences and it was clear from the off that this year's teams would not be disappointed! Bibendum was to become a drive-thru for one morning only! We collected breakfast rolls and coffees before Sir Stirling Moss wished us well and flagged us off for France.
Before boarding our train we were treated to a slice of birthday cake in celebration of sixty years of the Jaguar XK. On reaching Paris, we were all eagerly anticipating the grandeur of the British Embassy Champagne Taittinger Reception. We were welcomed into the Throne Room before having full run of a truly breathtaking building. Formula One supremo Eddie Jordan wowed competitors with a surprise visit. French Tennis champion Henri Leconte joined Eddie to serve the first clue for tomorrow's navigational shoot out.
HBR 2008 launched with a bang tonight when Jeremy Hackett flung open the doors to Hackett's flagship store on Sloane Street to greet competitors and friends of the Run. A red carpet created the perfect runway, framed by the beautiful NUB 120 and the brand new Jaguar XKR Convertible; a fitting start to the official celebration of sixty years of the Jaguar XK. Des Lynam compered the evening superbly, whilst Mike Brewer whipped up a bidding frenzy as the room fought for a variety of unique prizes in the glittering charity auction. Neil and Christine Hamilton joined teams at Sloane Street as did David and Karen Richards (Aston Martin, Prodrive) who arrived to wish competitors well in France.