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Rally round: The epic long-distance car races to join this year

Rally round: The epic long-distance car races to join this year

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Ferrari Cavalcade Classiche

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Ferrari-Cavalcade-Classiche

From epic off-road slogs to vintage street trundles, David Green issues a rallying cry for the best long-distance motor races...

Ferrari Cavalcade Classiche

Where/when: Various routes through the finer parts of Italy/September
Who goes: Ferrari lovers and collectors
What to drive: A classic – a 340 America from 1950 would do nicely
Endurance/difficulty: 2/5
Great if... you love Ferraris and good food

What do you do if you have a Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder worth around £15 million lying around, itching to be driven? Simple – you secure a ticket to the annual Ferrari Cavalcade Classiche, launched in 2017 to celebrate the maker’s 70th birthday. You’ll need to be invited, but the prestige and provenance of a car like that should get you through the door. In only its third year, the rally is already achieving cult status with a pristine line-up of classic Ferraris, many restored and maintained by the manufacturer’s Classiche department in Modena. Expect a warm, friendly group of knowledgeable global owners – more than 20 countries were represented last year. A German husband-and-wife team came along in their 250, but made it a family a air with their son and daughter making up a separate entry in a baby Dino. Two brothers originally from Belfast, having sampled the first event in a 265 GTB, decided to upgrade for 2018 in a spectacular 750 Monza. The event followed the outstanding coastline of northern Sardinia and the Costa Smeralda. There were themed dinners with a helping of local culture – Sardinian dancers, black berets and lashings of hams, cheese and a glass of the (always good) local wine.

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Mongol Rally

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Mongol-Rally

Where/when: The Czech Republic to Ulan Ude in Eastern Siberia, via any route/from 21 July
Who goes: A madcap eclectic mix – fancy dress is encouraged
What to drive: Small, humble one-litre cars – a Mini, perhaps?
Endurance/difficulty: 4/5
Great if... you and your friends fancy an alternative mini-break

Almost the same course as Peking to Paris, only in reverse and with ordinary cars: you can take whatever route you want, but many group together for support. It’s a tongue-in-cheek retort to the more traditional events – a budget “un-route” rally. Don’t let that detract from the fun factor, as the Mongol Rally is high on high jinks – a real-life version of the Wacky Races. Expect fancy dress and decorated vehicles as the entrants make light of what is still a genuinely tough challenge. The organisers’ mantra is: “If it’s not dangerous and you aren’t lost, you’re not on an adventure.” The “Warning” section of the website reads: “Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high.” We’re not sure if they are joking, but you get the picture... and it is all for charity.

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La Carrera Panamericana

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La-Carrera-Panamericana

Where/when: Mexico/mid-October
Who goes: Serious racers and adrenaline junkies
What to drive: Cars made before 1972 – if you’re serious, a Studebaker, the most successful manufacturer of the modern era. Endurance/difficulty: 4/5
Great if... you like mariachi bands serenading your arrival

Originally created to showcase Mexico’s recently completed Pan-American Highway to the world in 1950, La Carrera has become a staple of the automotive calendar since it was relaunched in 1988. Its name has inspired car models (Porsche) and watches (Tag Heuer) that want to emulate the challenge, speed and allure of the event. The police and army will be on hand for closed-off sections of road to allow high-speed racing, but there are varying levels of driver catered for, from hardcore racers to classic-car collectors wanting to test their skill in one of the most exhilarating – and dangerous – races on the planet.

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