A Welsh love story on wheels

“The routes! What a delight to drive!” was the instant response of one German participant when asked for his view of the FIVA World Rally 2018, a 450-mile, four-day, non-competitive event held this year in the dramatic countryside of rural Mid Wales.

The annual event is open to anyone with a classic car they enjoy using, not just members of FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles).

While the location changes from year to year, Mid Wales proved a huge hit with the participating teams, including two from Japan, four from Argentina, two from Slovakia, one from the Czech Republic and six from Germany – most of whom were new to Wales but have pledged to return as soon as they can.

“When driving,” continues Carl-Michael Emer from Germany, “one immediately understands the fascination of the Welsh people for the sport of rallying, because the terrain offers so many possibilities.

“Most of FIVA’s World Rally route followed small – even tiny – roads, sometimes just wide enough to let a car pass. Although it was called a ‘touristic event’, the driving was demanding, with tight corners, blind bends, steep uphill and downhill slopes (up to 25%), but we were always rewarded with breathtaking views in an ever-changing landscape. It’s easy to understand the affection the event organisers have for this region; and I think the participants now feel the same.”

Held from 28 August to 1 September 2018, there were four days of driving with a central base at the fabulous Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, often regarded as the spiritual home of Welsh rallying. A detailed roadbook guided participants through the twists and turns of the route, while there was a relaxing break from driving when the teams took a steam train ride from Devil’s Bridge to Aberystwyth.

Event organiser Paul Loveridge added, “Many participants were amazed to discover the terrain and landscapes of Mid Wales – drawing comparisons with the alpine regions of Europe. What particularly struck them was that within a single mile, you come across radically different scenery that might encompass mountain passes, lush valleys or panoramic views across as many as eight or ten counties.”

Next year’s events (you are really lucky – there are two to choose from or maybe do both!) will have a lot to live up to but, given that they are being held in Austria and Andorra, they  shouldn’t disappoint.  FIVA’s Austria Classic, from 22-26 May 2019 and the Andorran FIVA World Rally Andorra from 1-7 July 2019, are again open to anyone – not just FIVA members.

Photo credit: Kevin Baldwin and Detlef Krukenkamp

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A Welsh love story on wheels