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London to Lisbon rally goes down to the wire

Photography: Blue Passion / Will Broadhead

Imagine driving flat out across Europe for 10 days and almost 3000km and winning a rally by just three seconds. Better than doing all that and losing by three seconds we suppose!

Such were the tiny margins in HERO-ERA’s recent London to Lisbon Rally, with Graham Platts and Neil Ripley driving an 1956 Austin-Healey 100M, the oldest car on the event, to their maiden victory on 4 May. The crew that came so agonisingly close were  Ken and Sarah Binstead in an Austin-Healey 3000. An all Austin podium was rounded out by the father-and-son team of 2022 winners Dick and Harry Baines in their 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S.

After the win Neal Ripley had this to say: ‘It has been a phenomenal ten days. We have exceeded our own expectations and punched above our weight, and Graham has driven brilliantly. There has been two or three seconds between us [and second] for two or three days now, it has been intense pressure and a fantastic duel.’

Ken Binstead was magnanimous in defeat and hid his disappointment well, delighted just to finish after suffering a failed clutch release bearing in Spain half way through the event. He said: ‘We weren’t expecting to be here given what happened. We have made them work hard for the victory and have enjoyed it. We’ve kept them honest and on a normal day may have done a bit better, but we didn’t leave anything out there, the best guys won.’

The next London to Lisbon Rally will take place in 2026,  see the HERO-ERA website for more info.

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