Morgan have this social media hashtag thingy they use, #MorganAdventure. The idea is to encourage Moggy drivers to share their roadtrips, rallies and weekend escapes (and scrapes) with others online. When the entries were opened for the 2015 Rallye des Jonquilles in France I thought I’d create a little #MorganAdventure of my own. As much fun as 2014’s event was in my Porsche (report on that here) I decided that I needed something with a bit less go and a lot more tally-ho this time. That’ll be a Morgan 4/4 then, here in a classic Café Roadster spec of black wire wheels, off white paint and black interior. A thrap down to Dover with my navigator already asleep we caught the ferry to France and overnighted in St Omer, not far from the start of the rally in Aire-sur-la-Lys.

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On arrival we had a coffee and croissant (this is France, after all) and picked up the book which gives turn by turn instructions for each of the three stages. We scorched off the line in the town’s pretty main square and got lost after just 20 metres. Junior Duisberg, my navigator, reckons the book was wrong and I am inclined to agree. We weren’t the only folks 3 point turning down a side road, laughing. We quickly learned to ignore mischievous French drivers who would helpfully point one way before disappearing in another. Bonjour, Monsieur Alpine A610, if you are reading this! The Brits weren’t to be trusted much either, even fellow Mog pilots, this is a competition after all.

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Cars were set off at little intervals but it was easy to quickly catch a car in front and pass (or be passed), but the main challenge here is accurate navigation. In addition to that there were letters marked on stop signs which must be recorded and pictures of châteaux which should be ticked off a list if/when you saw them. There was a peculiar question about some obscure French TV show. Google was no help on the move. We guessed a lot. The end of stage one was at Abbaye de Belval where refreshments were served in the sunshine, lies were told about how easy it was, and multilingual banter shared with fellow competitors. Who needs Esperanto when you can mime a handbrake turn to avoid running over one of the many errant cyclists who were also enjoying the little lanes of northern France?

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Stage 2 was the important one, said Junior, because it had lunch at the end. We paid special attention to the notes. There was a minor calamity where the road ran through what looked like a shallow ford. I lined up the moggy for a quick dip but the TVR Grantura in front splashed in, emitted a cloud of steam, and conked out in the middle of what was a deeper bit of water than first thought. We took a different route. People waved and smiled at every turn. I got some stick for driving a black Porsche last year, it seems that the white Morgan has more kerb appeal.

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We then got stuck behind a Ferrari Testarossa for a while (this is not something that has ever happened to me before), it being 2mm narrower than the tight lanes we were driving down. We had a 1.6 litre Ford Sigma 4 pot with 110BHP, the Italian had 3 times the amount of cylinders and nearly 4 times the power, but that counts for nothing when you’re whanging round hairpins. The eclectic mix of cars attending is a big part of this rally’s appeal and the Ferrari driver should be applauded for using his machine for such an event. It sounded glorious.

It’s the little details of cars that appeal to us MotorPunks. You know how S1 Elises always seem to have a damaged front reg plate? One here had the phrase Carpe Diem on it, but with the ‘m’ snapped off, leaving something that might mean ‘seize the death’. Gordinis with 3 stud wheels. Matras with 3 abreast seating. From Triumphs to Porsches and Fords and cars you’ve only ever seen online, there was something for everyone and a great atmosphere in the paddock. I’ve culled the amount of photographs taken to about 80 here, there are a few hundred more on my PC!

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Lunch was good, 3 courses, drinks and a plan to wangle our way up the standings. Last year’s event was won by a French crew with a blue Alpine 110. We made sure we stayed tight to them on the next stage and we skipped over the horizon to be met by the sight of an S2 Elise that had somehow crashed into itself and smashed it’s front clam off. Ouch.

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We were low on fuel. Very low. A Mustang ran out completely. We made a detour to fill up and rejoined, with that sinking feeling that we might have been on the wrong road, or going the wrong way, or both. Junior had our spot marked perfectly, we tucked in behind a Corvette for the run to the finish line, down the side of a canal, along cobbled roads, having learned to steer the Morgan by just loosely hanging on and letting the nose sniff it’s own line out over cruddy surfaces. It’s a unique piece of machinery in many respects, beyond the vintage styling is some vintage engineering. It has a unique driving position where you not only feel like you’re sitting on the rear axle but your bum is actually part of it. The sliding pillar suspension means a nice positive feeling around dead ahead, then turns feel heavy as you scrabble against the sidewalls of skinny front tyres, it’s quite entertaining and unique in what is a brand new car (as we repeatedly explained to curious onlookers). We had the widest of grins at the finish line. Who won? I don’t know. It was a memorable #MorganAdventure.

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PS – Big thanks to Bruno and the team at ECURIE de la Grange aux Damiers for their hospitality, Nige and the other hairy biker, Freddy and Lisa, Mick and Nathan, all off Pistonheads, Morgan for their support, Peggy in the Mini for (I am reliably told) some first class navigation, all the new friends we made and above all to Junior Duisberg for the fun. If we missed anyone, drop us a line. Thanks.

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6 Responses

  1. Dave C

    Good report of a great event.

    We also messed up after 20m, but there was nothing wrong with the route book….

    Reply
    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      The route book was right, but the road was in the wrong place. Or something. We had a blast anyway!

      Reply
  2. Nigel Pugh

    Thanks for a great weekend in France Rich, we are glad you started it all for us with your write up on Pistonheads from last years event! It seems the myself and Paul will now be stuck with the new nick name of the Hairy Bikers from now on! Methinks we need to research more of these events for the future too! Cheers from Nige and Paul ” The Hairy Bikers ( in an R500 without Bikes oddly!

    Reply

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