The Beaujolais Run 2011 Returns the First Bottle by Road

Les Amis du Circuit de Gueux and French TV welcomed teams and ‘Run patron, John Surtees to the historic Reims-Gueux circuit. Teams paid their respects to the drivers of old before heading for Blighty, with a final lap of the circuit led by John Surtees OBE in the Jaguar XJ Supersport.

Approaching Calais, the teams basked in glorious sunshine before boarding Eurotunnel en route to the Royal Automobile Club’s Woodcote Park Clubhouse; where, incidentally, their adventure began at the beginning of the week, to reminisce their fun filled five days. All teams were victorious in their efforts to raise much needed funds in memory of the late Henry Surtees, for the measurable benefit of those who need it most.

The Beaujolais Run was filmed by Felix Prasser of hotels.tv and continues to bring the ‘Run to life for families, friends and sponsors across the world. Sponsors enjoy 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.

The Beaujolais Run 2011 - Macon to Reims

Competitors awoke in Mâcon and passed Beaune, before diverting to a small French village by the name of Prenois. It then dawned upon teams that they were being instructed to multiply lap Dijon’s famous former Formula One circuit as an extension of yesterday’s navigational trial! Turbos whined, superchargers howled and rubber squeeled as some of Europe’s finest metal was let loose on the finest operational track in France. For many competitors it was their first time at Dijon, following in the footsteps of motorsport legends; Villeneuve and Arnoux who fought a memorable battle at the 1979 French Grand Prix.

The track closed at 1300hrs. All teams then made spirited progress to Reims as they knew a treat was in store…

As the sun went down on Reims, teams were transported to the home of Champagne Taittinger; Chateau de la Marquetterie, high on a hill, amongst the Champagne vineyards. Teams marvelled at the spectacle within the chateau as they sipped their aperitif; before they then retired to the wine press room. There they found Marshall Joffre’s Paris limousine. An incredible 6 cylinder, 7.5 litre car from 1911. This remarkable car was the command vehicle of Marshall Joffre during the Battle of the Marne; effectively the forerunner to the modern scout car/modern off roader. Teams climbed into the vehicle, exploring its many historic and unique features during the course of the evening.

Clovis Taittinger led teams through five different wines; including the stunning Comtes Rose 2004, accompanying a sumptuous dinner and a charity auction. During dinner John Surtees praised teams for their fundraising efforts and gave an evocative insight into his epic career.

Expectations were running high as the time for prize giving arrived. Richard and Helen Slade; Team Kitty, in Billy their Jaguar XK150; took P2 for the GT1 Maps Only navigation class. Winners of P2, Any Assistance, were Julian Di Tomaso and Chris Boon of Full Bodied; behind the wheel of the off-roading Ferarri 360 Challenge Stradale! The highly coveted P1 went to Chris Bonvini and Dom McKay of Team Banana; an awesome achievement and in their first year on the ‘Run.The wonderfully individual James Wall Trophy for the Highest Fundraiser (P1) continues in perpetuity; donated by Andy Wall of Sunpower, father to James Wall who tragically lost his fight against cancer in April 2009

Always a hotly contested award, L’Esprit du Cours went to Greg De Prow; who overcame an incredible array of challenges from start to finish. Greg flew in from Las Vegas alone; his first time in the UK and France, when his team mate tragically withdrew from the ‘Run at the last minute, due to family circumstances. Greg’s ‘Run did not get off to the best start, as not only was he to travel alone; his car was stuck on the high seas outside Portsmouth, unable to dock! Whilst Greg set out alone in his hire car, the nature of the ‘Run inspires a wonderful camaderie that meant Greg was surrounded by friendly faces who were keen to ‘buddy up’; ensuring Greg was 110% part of the ‘Run. Greg suffered a puncture en route. Helped by Team Banana in the Corvette, he was soon back on the road, but then a wrong turn set him back and he missed the coach to dinner at Chateau Chassleas on Wednesday. ‘Run HQ left a note at the hotel reception, encouraging Greg to join the rest of the teams by taxi, which he did; entering the room during the meal to a rapturous round of applause! Greg’s adventure did not stop there... He offered to return Shaken but Undeterred to the UK; following the spectacular expiry of their Lotus Esprit Turbo the day before. Greg showed true Beaujolais spirit throughout; leading to a unanimous nomination for this esteemed award by all teams.

Team Tigger; husband and wife team Sean and Anna Devaney in their Nissan 370Z proudly collected the Wooden Spoon Award having chalked up the most miles during day two’s navigation trial.
Teams then transferred back to Reims, enjoying yet another wonderful treat; Jeroboams of Champagne Taittinger en route! 

The Beaujolais Run 2011 - Reims to Macon

Reims awoke to the lively start of the navigational shoot out, synonymous with this ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ event. The starting flag was dropped by Steve Berry dressed as John Steed from The Avengers; and teams headed south, furnished with their cryptic checkpoint clues. The scene outside Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger’s offices in Reims was taken back in time, to the 1960s; the decade of the E-type’s launch. Unleashed from Reims, teams dressed as ‘Sixties Icons’, seized the challenge and went about solving five cryptic checkpoints in their attempt to cover the course in the shortest possible distance.

France was in for a treat when John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Roy Salvadori and Graham Hill, Neil Armstrong, George Best, Lady Penelope and Parker, hippies and an eclectic array of groovy Sixties fashion. Polyester was rife and often ripe, with outfits arriving in Macon somewhat dishevelled after a day’s hard driving from Reims.

A unique task en route this year was for navigators to undertake a tasting of Chablis at Simonnet Febvre; in the world famous Chardonnay biased town. Other tasks included an obligatory Sixties Icon impersonation; guaranteed to bring smiles (and raised eyebrows!) to highly populated villages throughout France. But the air of comedy couldn’t disguise their dedication to finding the shortest route – which didn’t always mean taking the most obvious route.

The day presented greater challenges for some, sadly, as two teams retired from competition due to mechanical failure. Shaken but Undeterred were renamed Shaken but Not On Fire, as a fellow team came to their international rescue, to ensure that they too could enjoy the evening’s celebrations!

Teams’ antics were viewed in real time all over the world, thanks to TrackaPhone and NOKIA. For the teams themselves it was like being part of a video game, as they tracked their competition en route!

Baron Guillaume de Castelnau awaited teams at Château de Chasselas to welcome them to the region and to showcase and explain the award-winning wines. A hearty meal ensured teams were suitably fuelled before heading out into the night for the midnight release of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Inimitable in its spectacle; teams joined a torch lit walk into the heart of the village, mixing with local vignerons who were only to proud to proclaim the near perfect conditions in Beaujolais, producing a fabulous 2011 vintage! Sante! A few glasses of the 2011 crop amidst an awesome party atmosphere, music and fireworks lit the sky until the early hours.

What will tomorrow bring.... A special Thursday stage has been announced!

The Beaujolais Run 2011 – Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Park to Reims

Overseen by ‘Run Patron, John Surtees OBE; Norman Dewis was reunited with his favourite car of all time; 774 RW, the evocative and beautifully restored D-type of Britain’s first World Champion, Mike Hawthorn.

The awesome sound of the D-type’s engine sounded the re-start of the 2011 ‘Run, as teams watched in awe as the D-type took the famous corners of Hammerhead, Chicago and Gambon. Led out onto the track by Top Gear challenge winner Anthony Reid; teams took to the circuit. Many remarked, that they could not believe how tight some of the corners were and how skilled the Stig must be!

Dunsfold Park fell quiet as teams continued their journey cross-country to Eurotunnel; where they were to be treated unlike any other passenger that day. With lanes 5 and 6 reserved solely for the ‘Run; teams sailed through check-in and were greeted individually by Eurotunnel staff with their tickets; enabling them to make their way effortlessly, led by an escort vehicle onto their high space train. A soupson of ‘in-flight service’ heightened the excitement further; as teams mapped their route ahead to Reims and the magical cellars of Champagne Taittinger.

Teams debriefed the day before receiving their first cryptic checkpoint clue for tomorrow’s navigation challenge and heading into the bright city lights of Reims’ nightlife.

The Beaujolais Run 2011 - Opening Night

It was Jaguar that took centre stage in the sumptuous Cedar Room at the Royal Automobile Club; Mike Hawthorn’s 1955 Le Mans-winning D-type, alongside the latest XK Coupe created a stunning centrepiece to the evening’s proceedings. Teams immersed themselves in the romance and history of both the ‘Run and Jaguar’s heritage.

In the audience present; ‘Run Patron John Surtees OBE, Norman Dewis, British motoring history marvel and Jaguar test driver for 33 years; Anthony Reid, BTCC Master, Le Mans and sports car legend; and Steve Berry, car and bike supremo. All of whom took to the stage to share racing anecdotes and wish teams well on their journey ahead.

For one night only The Cedar Room at Woodcote Park had become ‘Run HQ. A stunning buffet accompanied by Champagne Taittinger and wines by Messrs Louis Jadot ensured the competitors were kept refreshed in style as they viewed this year’s competing cars from the Terrace and came face to face with their competition for the first time.

Teams were briefed on how to use their Nokia device; so that their friends, family and sponsors can track their adventure live during the ‘Run.

For the first time ever, the ‘Run has allowed a third team member; each team will be accompanied by a Royal Automobile Club teddy bear mascot – look out for photos of teddy on tour during the 2011 ‘Run!

Surtees and Dewis released the cars in a night start; destination, the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Park. Competing teams picked their way through the night to parc fermé.

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