AFTER a hugely enjoyable and successful event, the annual Beaujolais Run is over for another year, with the 45th anniversary of this iconic motoring tour marked with style and panache, aided by a Battle of Waterloo theme on the 200th anniversary of this great battle.
More than 30 participants took part in this year’s run, using a variety of interesting classic and contemporary cars to navigate their way across some amazing driving routes through Belgium and France.
The cars included four Bristols from enthusiastic members of the Bristol Owners Club – ranging from a 1949 400 Pininfarina, one of only three built on this chassis by the celebrated Torinese coachbuilder, right up to a modern and rare Fighter gullwing coupe – plus a Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, a TVR Tuscan, Morgan Aero 8, Bentley Continental GTC Speed and Eunos Roadster, among others, supported by a fleet of new Ssangyong SUVs.
Covering more than 1,200 miles over five days, the Beaujolais Run crews encountered vineyards, chateaux, historic battlefields and the world-renowned Reims motor circuit at Gueux, where the participants were joined by the world’s only two- and four-wheeled World Champion, John Surtees, at the wheel of his Ferrari FF.
Each year the run prides itself on its unique access to venues, wine makers, vehicles and experiences in a five-day fundraising extravaganza. After being flagged away from the Royal Automobile Club at Woodcote Park, Epsom, by John Surtees and Anthony Reid, the participants headed via the Eurotunnel to the city of Antwerp, a location much favoured by Napoleon.
On Tuesday the navigation trial run moved on the historic Battle of Waterloo site, including a long climb up the Butte du Lion to survey the battlefields, before heading into Reims to spend time with the Taittinger Champagne family, and explore the Champagne House’s vast network of cellars.
After a challenging navigational trial day on the Wednesday – designed to give a level playing field for all types of vehicles, with navigation classes for ‘maps only’ and ‘any assistance’ (satellite navigation) in the attempt to cover the course in the shortest distance to win the coveted ‘P2’ position on the following year’s start line – the crews headed for deepest Burgundy. Here they aimed to be the first to ‘bring back the Beaujolais’ after its midnight ‘launch’, having joined the mayor of Beaujolais for the official dinner and the release of the 2015 Nouveau vintage.