The Alpine Trial Rally 2016 was staged 26-28 September in southeastern France, starting and ending in the town of Divonne-les-Bains. The third running of the Alpine Trial from Endurance Rally Association (ERA) was based around Annecy’s Imperial Hotel, with the route taking in a different direction each day — south to the 2000 meter high Col de la Madeleine, west towards the Rhone valley and the Jura Mountains and finally every road at the foot of Mont Blanc.
The ERA’s third Alpine Trial started in the little-known town of Divonne-les-Bains, nestling next to the Swiss border near Geneva. From there, the route journeyed the entire breadth of the Jura Mountains, west of the Rhone, before moving into the Alps and Mont Blanc for the finale in Annecy.
With Regularity and Special Tests as well as Alpine sections, route master Keith Baud pushed the crews to the limit as they navigated rocky hairpins, remote Alpine roads, and the steepest of mountain climbs.
Fred Gallagher, ERA’s Rally Director, said: “Another fantastic three-days of historic rallying. The route continues to offer exciting competition for those who want it, challenging roads that you’d never find on your own, and a stunning backdrop for equally stunning cars.”
The winners of the Endurance Rally Association’s first Alpine Trial reclaimed their trophy after winning the pre-war rally for the second time. Gareth Burnett and Jez Haylock won the event in the 1934 Talbot 105 Alpine, which was used in the inaugural Alpine Trial held in the same year. As well as winning the overall title, Burnett and Haylock added the Alpine Cup to their collection of silverware, given to those crews who keep a clean sheet in the results.
The all-British team faced fierce competition from John Abel and Leigh Powley in the 1937 Lagonda LG45, who were compensated for their second place with their own set of Alpine Cups, and Peter Lovett and Rob Henchoz in the 1937 BMW 328, who had to settle for third place. Alpine Cups were also awarded to Clint and Brad Smith in the 1938 Jaguar SS100, and Paul Wignall and Guy Woodcock in the 1929 Alvis Silver Eagle.
There were also awards for Czech’s Jan Hradecky and Dana Hradecka who were presented Spirit of the Rally for competing in a skeletal 1936 Jawa Aero Minor 1, a lightweight car from their home country, which was conceived and a prototype built in secret during the second world war.
Kate and Sophie Wickham were awarded the Concours d’Elegance for their 1934 MG TC, while the TT Award, with TT standing for Tin Top, was accepted by Tony and Pauline Mather in the 1937 Citroen Traction Avant.
As well as the overall winners, the Alpine Trial’s 40-strong entry-list was broken down into five categories based on engine size: up to 1500cc; up to 2000cc; up to 3000cc; up to 4000cc; over 4000cc, with class winners celebrated in each.
The next Alpine Trial will take place in 2018, alternating with the newly launched Blue Train Challenge that will start on 18 September 2017. The final ERA event of 2016 starts on 13th November as 50 classic and vintage cars compete in the Rally of the Incas, a thirty-day rally from Buenos Aires to Lima, South America. For updates and more information on the ERA events, visit EnduroRally.com.
Similar to 2014 and 2015, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2016 Alpine Trial Rally, with photographer Gerard Brown offering the following wonderful images that highlight the outstanding mountain vistas of France.
Alpine Trial Rally 2016 – Photo Gallery
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Alpine Trial Rally 2016 — Overall Winners
1. Gareth Burnett and Jez Haylock, Talbot 105 Alpine
2. John Abel and Leigh Powley, Lagonda LG45
3. Peter Lovett and Rob Henchoz, BMW 328
Alpine Trial Rally 2016 — Class Winners
Class 5 vintageant pre ’41 over 4000cc
1. Stuart Anderson and Robert Ellis, Bentley 4.5L
2. Bill Cleyndert and Matthew Abrey, Bentley Super Sports
3. James Gately and Tony Brooks, Cadillac 60 Series Coupe
Class 4 vintageants pre ’41 up to 4000cc
1. Clint and Brad Smith, Jaguar SS100
2. Wilifried Schaefer and Sandra Hubner, Talbot 105 Alpine
3. John Rushton and Michael Birch, Talbot 105 Alpine
Class 3 vintageants pre ’41 up to 3000cc
1. Paul Wignall and Guy Woodcock, Alvis Silver Eagle
2. Roland D’leteren and Dominique Gasse, Alfa Romeo 6C Pescara
Class 2 vintageants pre ’41 up to 2000cc
1. Martin Hunt and Robert Mannix, Frazer Nash BMW 328
2. Tony and Pauline Mather, Citroen Traction Avant
3. Thomas Maechler and Andrea Scherz, Aston Marton MkII Comp
Class 1 vintageants pre ’41 up to 1500cc
1. Brad Mottier and Bill Hoff, Riley Bigley Special
2. Michael and Nicolas Kershaw, HRG 1500
3. Katie and Sophie Wickham, MG TC
Alpine Trial Rally 2016 — Special Award Winners
Spirit of the Rally
Jan Hradecky and Dana Hradecka, Jawa Aero Minor I
Katie and Sophie Wickham, MG TC
Tony and Pauline Mather, Citroen Traction Avant
[Source: Endurance Rally Association; photos: Gerard Brown]