TIME ON TRIAL AS VETERANS WATCH THEIR SPEED

The 2017 Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, supported by Hiscox is not a race. For a start, racing on public roads is against the law, and besides, with 20 mph being the maximum speed many of these veterans can attain, it wouldn’t be much of a spectacle.

But the Run – a Royal Automobile Club event – does have a competitive element. Introduced in 2014, the Chopard Regularity Time Trial pits the wits of the drivers and their passengers against the sands of time… and there’s a Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph, worth £4,900 (below), awaiting the Trial winner.

That first Time Trial attracted 52 entrants from the 400 cars on the Run. In 2015, the figure rose to 173 and in 2016 it peaked at 183. But this year a record 313 veterans – 75 per cent of all the runners – will be entering the Time Trial.

The Regularity Time Trial starts half way through the Run, after participants have regrouped at the Crawley half-way checkpoint. The Time Trial starts on Crawley High Street and finishes 13 miles later at another checkpoint at Burgess Hill in Sussex.

Before the Run, each entrant will nominate the average speed they think they will maintain over the 13 miles – the options are 8 mph, 10 mph, 12 mph, 14 mph, 16 mph and 18 mph. If no speed is nominated, the default average speed is set at 12 mph. The car and driver that gets closest to its nominated average speed wins the watch.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Road conditions can be affected by the weather and by traffic while there’s a strong possibility that mechanical problems might hinder progress – every car on the Run is at least 112 years old while the oldest on the Run, a Peugeot Type 3, was built in 1893.

“Although there’s only 12 years between the youngest and oldest cars on the event, engineering development made rapid progress and the difference in the performance of these vehicles is huge. By setting an average speed over a set distance, the Chopard Regularity Time Trial equalises that difference and instead rewards the skills of the person behind the wheel… or the tiller,” said Peter Read, Chairman of The Royal Automobile Club’s Motoring Committee.

“Now in its fourth year, the Time Trial has become an important and keenly fought element of this wonderful event.”

The 2017 Run will be held, as ever, on the first Sunday in November – this year, it falls on the 5th November.

As dawn breaks, a red flag will be ceremoniously destroyed and the 400 entries will start their journey from capital to coast: the Run – the world’s longest running motoring event – celebrates the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act in November 1896, also known as the Red Flag Act and refers to a time when these new-fangled machines had to follow a man holding a red flag.

More than 400 veterans have entered this year among which are a large contingent of cars constructed in France. While Germany is generally considered to be the birthplace of the motorcar, it was the French who accelerated the concept of the horseless carriage and was by far the biggest automobile producing nation as the 19th century turned into the 20th century. This year’s Run has adopted a French theme in honour the country’s contribution to motoring.

The Run is just one element of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week. A full week crammed with motoring happenings, popular events include the free Regent Street Motor Show. Held on Saturday 4th November, it turns London’s premier shopping street into a motoring showcase that puts the spotlight on veterans, classics and moderns alike.

Auction house Bonhams will be holding its annual Veteran Car sale on Friday 3rd November while other events in London Motor Week include a motoring art exhibition at the Mall Galleries, which is open to the public, as well as invitation-only lunches, receptions and functions at the RAC Clubhouse in Pall Mall.

For more details of the event and access to registration forms visit www.veterancarrun.com.

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