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Crowds flock to four-day festival

Motors | Published:

Peter Tabb was one of the team of commentators at this year's motoring festival, which ran from Thursday 31 May to Sunday 3 June

This year’s Rubis Festival of Motoring, supported by most of the local motor clubs, was a four-day experience.

The first events took place on the Thursday evening, with the sounds and excitement of kart racing on a circuit created on Victoria Avenue. This type of motor racing is probably as near as this island will ever come to having its own version of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Staged by the Jersey Kart and Motor Club, this event was exciting, with drivers across a wide age range keenly competing and a strident precursor to the traditional sporting elements of the Festival – the Moonlight Sprints, also on Victoria Avenue, and the hill climbs at Westmount and Mount Bingham.

The festival is now the largest such event in the Channel Islands and is organised by the Classic, Vintage and Modern Motor Racing Club of Jersey. The Moonlight Sprints were preceded by cavalcades of classic cars, including Aston Martins and now rarely seen Rileys and much-loved models from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the vehicles that so many Islanders grew up with.

Following the cavalcade were replicas of a Ford GT40 and a Ferrari P4, recalling the duels fought by these marques at the annual Le Mans 24 hours endurance race. Henry Ford II wanted to buy Ferrari but his overtures were brusquely dismissed by Enzo Ferrari and Henry’s response was to commission the GT40 (the 40 in its name referring to its height in inches to the top of the bodywork from the ground) to compete and beat Ferrari at what had become almost a routine Ferrari success. And duly did so.

The festival truly got under way on the Saturday and Sunday, when both the People’s Park and the Lower Park staged a wide range of attractions, including static displays by various motor clubs, displays by the Island’s motor traders, including an increasing number of electric cars, and motorcycle trials over and through some very extraordinary obstacles.

A very popular French Market and local food and drinks retailers catered very effectively for the throng of spectators attracted both by what was on offer and the fine weather, which lasted all weekend. While many static vehicles attracted admiring and often envious glances, many visiting classic car enthusiasts were enjoying organised tours of the Island on the Saturday and Sunday.

Both hill climbs lived up to expectations, with very keen competition between riders and drivers – fortunately without incident. The inclusion of ‘Modern’ in the organisers’ title has allowed vehicles just 25 years old to participate, with a reduction in times but with greater safety than with the much older and often much more valuable participants of earlier years.

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On the Sunday the Brewin Dolphin Active Arena was within a circuit created around the Victoria Park, where a wide range of two- and four-wheeled vehicles carried out demonstration laps, with the youngest drivers involved being just eight years old and driving Cadet karts.

There was the sound and fury of sporting vehicles including the smallest karts, sand buggies, Mini-Moto and Super-Moto motorbikes, local ‘specials’ – a much-modified and supercharged V8 Ford Capri driven by Jamie Langlois and a stripped-down and very loud V12 Jaguar E-Type driven by Ian Hunt – and several local rally cars, including the astonishing 3-litre four-wheel-drive MG Metro 6R4 created by Austin-Rover in the 1980s for the short-lived Group B rally category and restored by John Fernandes.

John was celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary that day and as a special treat the event organisers had arranged for his wife Caroline (who had never ridden in the car) to be given several circuits, much to her husband’s surprise.

These continuous demonstrations kept the large crowd entertained all day.

The whole event took place in sunny and warm conditions and great credit must go to the festival organisers for providing such an exciting and stimulating free show. The event receives substantial support from its sponsors, Rubis, the Island and parish authorities, visiting professional marshals and a large team of voluntary helpers.

On every day the event was enjoyed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of spectators and gave the commentating team a great deal to talk about.

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