Martin and Olivia Hunt are celebrating after winning the Endurance Rally Association’s Trans-America Challenge in their vintage Bentley – a 1927 4½ Le Mans, prepared for the rally by William Medcalf Ltd.
The 22-day rally saw 45-crews in total compete in numerous trials and test as they made their way from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to San Francisco, California, crossing 15 states and 9,500 kilometres by its end.
The route has used testing roads and enjoyed spectacular views as it has used America’s roads less travelled, while still finding time to visit iconic locations such as the Battle of Little Bighorn site and Mount Rushmore.
“Both Trans-America rallies were challenging events, and both took in many miles of unpaved roads,” explains Martin. “The regularity tests on this event were often on rough and sometimes steep tracks which definitely were tough for our car – more so than those in the classic division. There were also a number of speed tests on closed private circuits, which we attempted as best we could, but again the newer cars were always going to be quicker on these!”
From the starting line, the teams experienced some harsh weather ranging from unforgiving rain and thunderstorms to blistering heat as they reached the dry deserts.
“For me, the extremes of heat that we experienced towards the end of the event was the toughest part,” adds Martin. “It was 40C in the Nevada desert at the peak – but although the car ran a bit warmer, it didn’t seem to mind at all! For my wife, it was the opposite – the cold days in the early part of the rally in Canada, made worse by torrential rain were her toughest part.
“Mechanically, the car ran perfectly. The worst bit was when I managed to put the jack through the back of the differential casing resulting in its contents being deposited on the floor of the car park. Luckily this happened on a rest day, and we managed to find a welder who was working over the weekend, with a TIG welder. He did a great job and his weld held for the rest of the rally.
“Being the oldest car on the rally certainly meant we had to carry out more maintenance compared to the crews of the newer cars. Where possible, every night I would grease the car, carry out basic spanner checks and check the oil and water levels and tyre pressures. I felt that the greasing was particularly important after the extreme days – be those extremes of rain, dust or heat, or large mileages.”
With Martin and Olivia taking the top spot in the Vintageant class, it was Jan Woien and Jan Hansen from the Netherlands in the 1935 Alvis Speed 20 who took second place, and Americans Mel Andrews and Dennis Conley in Bentley 3½ claiming third.
The Hunts have now competed in four endurance rallies in their vintage Bentley, their first being the Peking to Paris in 2010, followed by the 2012 TransAmerica, the 2013 Vintage Cape Horn, and now the 2015 Trans-America, securing class wins in all of them.
William Medcalf, the vintage Bentley specialist who has won many rallies himself, said: “This is another great win for the Hunts and the car. It’s a beautiful car to work on and I’m thrilled it ran so well for them. Here’s to the next event we work on together.”
For more information on Trans-America 2018 and other Endurance Rally Association events, visit www.endurorally.com