British Touring Car Championship 1998
Every once in a while the automotive stars line up and you’re invited to partake in an event which takes all of your childhood supercar dreams and crams it down your oesophagus like it was free cake.
Welcome to the Classic Adelaide Rally, Australia’s answer to the U.K’s Gumball 3000 and the USA’s Cannonball Run.
The formula is rather simple. Recruit the country’s biggest car fanatics and convince them to take out their most prized wheels from hiding before racing them on the closed public roads of the Adelaide Hills. It’s pretty straight forward stuff.
That is until the event grows annually to attract some of the world’s most prestigious car makers including Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia and an entire contingent of German powerhouses alongside classic and modern cars built to go from point A to B very quickly.
For our leg of the journey we joined the perennially fastidious Alfa Romeo crew who had their latest small but mighty 4C Spider on hand with a retired Formula One driver at the wheel.
That driver was none other than seasoned Italian gun Ivan Capelli, recipient of three career podiums and 31 championship points across six different teams which includes Ferrari and Jordan.
Riding shotgun with Capelli through the day’s closed stages was yours truly. A self-proclaimed novice at driving very exotic cars at very illegal speeds.
We won’t spoil the surprise with too many words. What we will say is that against the big V8s and V10s of the mighty Germans and British, Capelli and the little Alfa Romeo 4C Spider were more than capable of reeling in the competition.
This was especially evident in the twisty bits via Capelli’s trick steering work, footwork and rapid reflexes (you’d never guess the guy was 53 years old while he explains his snazzy medical business to you at 150km/h mid-corner).
“I’m not really driving at 100%,” was a statement that has stuck with us until today.
Besides the driving talent, kudos is especially owed to the Alfa Romeo 4C’s design philosophy which sees its carbon fibre tub doing wonders for chassis rigidity and handling in place of big power figures. This gave Capelli the ability to annoy a lot of the more powerful cars thanks to its weight advantage of hitting the scales at just 895kg.
As Capelli, co-driver and the little 4C Spider went through the stages, the end of the day quickly culminated in a street festival in the heart of the city which allowed all of the cars and owners to show off their prized wheels in a public space.
What can we say, the environment was electric from start to finish and the Classic Adelaide Rally is one event that every car fanatic needs to take part in.
Think about it: What other state would allow a car enthusiast to test the limits of their machine in a safe and closed off section of the country’s best roads? Exactly. Crazy Adelaidians.
A special thanks must be extended to the Alfa Romeo team who scored this passenger a very coveted seat alongside a legend in one of the most memorable events in Australian motorsport history.
In a state which is home to random German villages called ‘Hahndorf’ and creepy clowns lurking in car parks, I’m convinced that this is one event that we’ll be happy to see again down the track.
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