The galleryrally 2012 saw our gallery van beat the supercars into first place. It’s our fifth year, so it’s about time. With so many hare like supercars on the field we went out there and got a win for the TORTOISES…
The rally really snuck up on us this year. In previous years we’ve taken a Jeep. Unfortunately a local car retailer that deals in such brands had our Jeep in their posession for 4 months this year and then gave it back broken. They want £1000 more to re-fix damage caused by their neglect so, with the rally approaching, we had to look for another option. Without a stable of cars to choose from we opted for our trusty steed, the Gallery Distro delivery van. She’s been circling the Island for us for years and we must owe her a trip to the French riviera by now.
There was some concern over conditions as a force 7 had ferries running for a harbour the night before we were due to depart. Fortunately, following our send off coffee and bacon rolls courtesy of the Royal Yacht Hotel, Poseidon and Mother Nature calmed things just enough to allow Condor Rapide to power over the undulating ocean and safely to St Malo. As usual, in addition to a first hidden clue in our competitor pack, we had a challenge for a ferry. To avoid Google’s ability to answer just about every quiz question in previous years this year our organiser had a new plan; a massive word search. I’m sure it’s been a while since you had the time or inclination for a wordsearch….you’re missing out.
Our 24 Jersey ralliers rolled off the ferry to meet the organisers, marshalls and a couple from the UK who, on learning the ferry from the UK to Jersey was cancelled, had driven to Folkstone and down through France early doors to meet us in time for the start.
With the First day’s clues in hand we set off. There’s something fantastic about setting off on a mission with only a vague plan of your route. Having solved our four clues to find the day’s stop points we were pretty sure we were on the right path, but still managed to do a figure of eight just outside St Malo. Our first ‘Location’ clue was French bridge or a close relative – just East of St Malo we located the answer; a small town called Pontorson. Fortunatley we arrived there before all the others had left and joined a few teams for a croque monsieur. The day went well and we crossed beautiful countryside and passed through quaint towns. The loving smile of rural French pensioners when they see a ground of Rosbifs fly through in convoy is truly a site to behold.
Evenings on the rally are everything you’d expect of a French holiday with good food in a rural French hotel; tasty morcels, flowing wine and good times as everyone waits to see how they’ve faired with clues during the day. Fortunately for us we seemed to be holding our own, sharing the top spot with a few die hard ralliers, some of whom already had their name engraved as winners on the GalleryRally trophy.
The first night saw us staying at a familiar location; a beautiful country hotel with a windmill and cracking food we stayed at on the rally in 2009. Ralliers socialised into the night and morning. That’s the beauty of the Rally, no-one is going to berate you for burning your candle at both ends provided you’re capable of being up and at ‘em. Even a dip in the pool at 3am didn’t hamper our classic camper driving team…
Day two took us to Fontevraud-l’Abbaye (clue: holy place but confused Advent four) – an amazing Abbey that had an incredible and chequered past. The abbey became a prison from 1804 to 1963, in which year it was given to the French Ministry of Culture. Having been restored it now fuses incredible architecture with a modern art exhibition and a stylish cafe. We had a coffee. Great Florentines. Other clues took us to pretty little towns and hunting for doorbells. On arriving at our destination for the evening, Bonnat, there were no cars in the carpark. Chip had arranged for a private racetrack nearby to be opened for our ralliers to get the most out of their cars for a few laps.
One of our R8s got a little more than that, spinning off in great style. Fortunately the car and driver were both unscathed. We wiled away the hours after dinner with some games of pool and I was fresh enough the next morning to make use of the pool. You know how swimming pools at hotels sit there, taunting you, calling you lazy. I wasn’t going to be defeated. Ahead of our day Chip had devised another non daytime quiz; a time trial to name as many of the 44 presidents of the USA as you could. Fortuntely with some well remembered song lyrics and a bit of Bill&Ted we managed to come out at the right end of the field.
Our rainy day three (the only rainy day in 5 years of rallies) took us to Privas, stopping for lunch at Le Chaise Dieu in the sort of restaurant where you wonder if they’ve EVER had a customer before. Privas, in the Ardeche was the location for this year’s paper aeroplane challenge. Ben’s brute force won us the prize for distance but the engineering of Adam and Chris was easily enough to grasp first place in the design category (below) – it even had a proper fuselage. Sadly for our UK entrants the mountains and mist had proved too much for their 911 speedster and they arrived for a late dinner courtesy of a long taxi ride. The pool at Privas also proved too tempting for a few ralliers (us included) and we got a few early hours swimming races in to work off the Vin de Table and bottles that followed.
We awoke to learn that the Speedsters had a new means of transport. As it seemed a bit tricky to get back to their car and a hire car was to be troublesome, they hopped into the back of Karl and Neil’s classic VW Combi for a ‘Summer Holiday’ style final day. After breakfast we had an extra challenge for the day; to find a pineapple, a melon, two red hats and some lavender in order to fill a clue later that day. It was to get a photo at the summit of Mt Ventoux, a famous Tour de France stage. The cyclists at the summit looked a little bemused when a slew of J plated supercars came over the brow and parked up amongst their steeds.
Safely off the mountain and after a quick motorway section we arrived on the beautiful coast of St Tropez just before sunset to the usual amazing finale hotel where you feel you’re suddenly a high roler. Thankfully the 900 euro a night rate was for the other guests. Part of your entry fee ensures a great deal on the hotel!
A gala dinner, a firework display over the superyachts mored offshore and a win (the first in five years) for team Gallery couldn’t have finished the rally off in any better form. Some ralliers snuck off early and others came to our room to do the best to drink their prize wine, kindly sourced and distributed by our cluemaster. Four days of stories and we’re still counting up the fundraising total and following up next month. Here’s looking forward to next year!
We could only do a brief overview here. Garry and Mike, our most consistent champion ralliers, have an amazing blog of all past Galleryrally and Tour de Liberation at
Please check it out!