St Albans rally team early leaders in London to Cape Town race

Three St Albans built cars taking part in race

RALLYING: ST ALBANS rally driver Owen Turner is the current leader of the London to Cape Town Rally.

Owen, who is a director at The Rover Centre in London Road where his MG ZR and several other cars taking part in the rally were prepared currently leads the field of 48 with co-driver Matthew Fowle after four days of the four-week long event.

“It’s very early days; we’re only four days into a four week event but Owen has done very well,” his father, Mike, told the Herts Advertiser.

“They are a very experienced crew and in rally terms they are probably the most experienced in terms of short rallying.”

The event started outside the Houses of Parliament on Sunday and has seen the drivers travel down through Kent and France before finishing in Italy. They are currently heading to Greece via ferry where the race will resume before making the trip down to Africa and the long journey down to Cape Town.

“Throughout Europe most of the journey is uncompetitive,” explained Mike.

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“They have closed road tests, for example they’ve undertaken five tests in the Alps, and these are tests against the clock.”

It is Owen and Matthew’s results in these tests that give them the lead of the race but the format changes once the crews reach Africa.

“When they get to Africa it is a different set of rules,” added Mike. “There the whole day’s route can be a test. They are not subject to the same driving laws when they get out onto the open roads of central Africa and that is where the real competition will be.”

The crews are not allowed any outside, organised support, having to keep the cars going themselves, or with the help of local garages.

Other local drivers involved in the race include Richard Atherton of St Albans in his 1970s Volvo 144 and Dr Paul Unwin and his wife Diane of Wheathampstead in their 2003 MG ZR, one of the other cars prepared at The Rover Centre over the last six months.

The other car prepared at the London Road garage is that of all female crew Rachel Vestey and Suzy Harvey but they are currently trailing behind the other competitors after a mishap in Italy.

Mike added: “There’s a mixture of classic cars from the 60s and 70s like Peugeot 505s and Volvos which bearing in mind they are in Africa these are the cars they are used to.

“And then there are modern cars like Owen’s MG and quite a large 4x4 section and there is even one vintage car - a 1920s Vauxhall from Australia.”

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