After a 3-year enforced absence, the 12th Flying Scotsman rally organised by HERO-ERA lived up to its reputation as one of the world's most challenging rallies for vintage cars. True to form, the weather in the region at springtime delivered everything from snow, hail, rain, sub-zero temperatures and brilliant sunshine over the 600-mile route, which started in Northumberland, crossed the border into Scotland via the Kielder Forest and continued via St Andrews, the Cairngorms, Aviemore, concluding at the end of day 3 at the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel.
Although the event attracts some of the finest vintage cars, driven by nearly 100 competitors from all over the world, this is no gentle run along country roads. The rally is not for the faint hearted, a typical day often starting with competitors jumping into snow covered cars, many of which have no hoods or heaters and undertaking a range of competitive driving tests and regularity stages across some of the finest mountainous roads that the region has to offer.
The event is fiercely competitive and a core of regular participants thoroughly prepare their cars to the highest level to be in with a chance of winning, whilst for many simply reaching the finish is testament to a crews endurance and evidence of a well prepared car.
William Medcalf of specialists "Vintage Bentley" has competed on the event many times and was looking to add to his tally of two victories, particularly after his last participation resulted in a close 2nd place after being baulked by a non-competing vehicle on the last event. This year William teamed up with Andy Pullan, again to right that wrong, a navigator with superb credentials. Andy has been reading the maps competitively since the age of 14 and now at the grand old age of 26 was on the cusp of giving up his career in Civil Engineering and following his true passion, to work full time for the Flying Scotsman event organisers – HERO-ERA. In fact, he deferred the start of his new career with HERO-ERA so he could compete in the event. In practical terms this competitive participation in the Flying Scotsman was to be his last for some time as you can't work for the organisers and compete on their events simultaneously, so with the clear objective of improving on his own 2nd place best finish from six previous participations, he was keen to leave this phase of his competitive career with a win.
For the world's leading Vintage Bentley specialist, a Bentley SuperSports was the ideal car to compete with and with the consent of an enthusiastic new owner, a freshly rebuilt example was entered with a view to using the event as a road test before final handover to the client! There are not many freshly restored cars that would use an event this arduous as a final road-test, certainly not those whose origins are almost a century old, but a Vintage Bentley SuperSports is made with competitive use in mind and benefits from Vintage Bentley's vast experience in preparing successful cars for these types of events.
In isolation, the fact Vintage Bentley prepared the 1923 Bentley SuperSports which stormed into the lead from the start and led throughout the three-day event, appears to present a commanding performance for the Medcalf/Pullan duo, but that would simply not accurately reflect the true intensity of the competition.
At lunch time on day one, a mere 20 seconds covered the top 10 cars and literally the smallest mistakes would result in a crew dropping out of contention. The Bentley had the advantage of really good power and torque synonymous with the marque and on some of the more open tests such as the Crail airfield on day two, the SuperSports was in its element. That said, some of the smaller younger vintage cars with equally high levels of preparation and the added benefit of new-fangled radial tyres(!) presented very stiff competition on the twisty stuff. The Vintage Bentley crew left nothing on the table in their efforts to preserve their lead, which led to a few anxious moments when the outer limits of the car were explored(!) especially with the knowledge the car had been sold and needed to be presented to its new owner on Wednesday morning after the rally, in the same fundamental condition it had left the works!
"Make no mistake, to finish this event is an achievement in its own right and any of the crew near the sharp end of the leader board were in with a chance of the win. I had the advantage of a superb navigator in Andy Pullan, as well as a great car to drive, which just gets better the harder you drive it. I know the SuperSport's new owner appreciates the commitment we applied to giving the car a thorough shakedown! A great effort by the team at our works who prepared the car, I tried my best, but I couldn’t break it!
Now Andy is retiring from the competitive side, I need to think of who I can crew with on future participations of this legendary event. At the awards ceremony I had a chat with an Australian youngster who nav’d for his Dad. At 14 years old he was the youngest competitor to have ever participated in this rally. Anyway, if he sticks at it and maintains his progress in competitive navigation, I have told him he has a navigator's seat in one of our Bentleys at a future event. It's great to see the next generation showing a passion for vintage cars and reassures us there will be enthusiastic custodians for all these fabulous old cars in years to come."
The victory in the 2022 Flying Scotsman rally means that William has now recorded a hat-trick of wins on the rally with three different navigators, and three different Bentley SuperSports, all having benefited from expert preparation by Vintage Bentley. As a company, Vintage Bentley had a good event with all five cars prepared by the concern finishing the rally, including the class win for Number 17, a Bentley SuperSports.
Our event cars are built to be driven HARD and we would hope that our successful participation in this highly respected event is testament to the fact that you can really use our cars in the spirit in which they were conceived. Apart from being great fun to drive, seeing the expression of drivers in a "modern" as you overtake with ease to maintain brisk progress....is a priceless experience every time! Finally, I would like to applaud the sporting nature of the new owner for allowing us to properly shake down his car on the event. We have done approximately 3,000 miles ensuring everything works as it should and when he flew into the UK from the States he came straight down to our works. He was keen to be presented with his car as it was, thoroughly caked in mud and road grime and drenched in champagne - clearly he is a proper enthusiast and worthy new custodian of this great old vintage Bentley!
As the world’s leading vintage Bentley specialist, we work exclusively on W.O Bentley models from 1922 to 1932 and operate from unrivalled facilities. Our dedicated team of skilled craftsman offer a full range of services in our workshop including preservation, restoration, and event preparation. Our investment in people, equipment and process means we can perform all these services in-house.
Delivering Bentleys on time and on budget to the world’s toughest events, from 24hour races to the Peking to Paris is what we excel at. 26 years of first-hand experience and major victories across 17 countries and three continents by our founder William Medcalf gives the business unrivalled knowledge and passion for our modest yet strong team of 30.
Our manufacturing and spares division manages the supply of over 2,000 quality components, all specifically designed for Vintage Bentleys. These parts can all be viewed and ordered on our website, alternatively they all feature in our latest 300-page parts catalogue. We also offer bespoke in-house manufacture capability to meet specific requirements.
Our showroom presents some of the most historic vintage Bentleys for future custodians, all vehicles are supplied with comprehensive ownership history. Please peruse our website for current showroom listings. Personal visits to the works and showroom are by appointment. Please contact our enthusiastic and experienced team to discuss your requirements.
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Located just 15 miles north of Goodwood.
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