Rally Preparation Services is proud to have been involved with the Samurai Challenge Rally 2017, the first ever UK-organised competitive rally to visit Japan. The event, organised by Rally Round, was open to all pre-1974 classics, in addition to a non-competitive Touring Category for cars of any age. #TeamRPS was represented by our old friends Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown in the Triumph Stag that previously won the 2013 Peking to Paris in an RPS Chevy, Alan and Carol Pontin in a Jaguar E-Type V12, Roger Allen and Maggie Gray in a BMW 2800CS and Nicholas Pryor and Lesley Stockwell in a Mercedes-Benz 350SL.

The Samurai Challenge covered over 2,800 miles in 23 days and the cars gathered at Fukora on April 12 for the start of various regularity sections and special tests. Rally Round had planned the itinerary so that everyone would be able to experience some of Japan’s most famous landmarks and varied cultural treasures at a relaxed pace. The third stage took the form of a trip around Mount Aso, the country’s largest volcano and day six saw the participants drive past the sandbars of Miyazu Bay while the Challenge included such experiences as visiting Obubu Tea Farm and the gold mines near Aikaw. As the driving was only undertaken during daylight this meant that the crews could fully enjoy the cuisine and accommodation at a specially chosen venue every evening; one overnight stay was at the Kongobuji temple a National Treasure of Japan. The rest days were held in Kyoto, the country’s former capital and home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the metropolis of Tokyo.


Photo credit: Martin Crosta / Rally Round


The involvement of RPS in the Samurai Challenge extended beyond the competition vehicles as MD Simon Ayris and senior technician Gary Pickard worked as a ‘sweep’ crew offering constant technical support. Their official report ends with the deceptively simple words ‘Job Done’, which barely does justice to their providing vital assistance and advice for over three weeks, from helping to rescue an 8-Litre Bentley that had fallen into a roadside ditch to attending to malfunctioning wipers on a Volvo Amazon. Whether a car was a Jaguar XK150 suffering from a flat battery, a Ford V8 with a faulty starter motor or a Chevrolet Master requiring its front wheel bearings adjusting Simon and Gary were always on hand.

The shores of Lake Toya were the venue for the finishing line of the Samurai Challenge and a 1937 Alvis Speed 25 was the overall victor, followed by a 1963 Ford Falcon and a 1961 Datsun 240Z.  The Pontin E-Type came second in the ‘Classic 3801cc and above’ class and the Allen BMW achieved third place in the ‘Classic 2501cc to 3800cc’ category. The dinner and prizegiving ceremony was accompanied by Yosakoi dancers which was a very appropriate conclusion to an unforgettable nine days. RPS is honoured to have involved with the success of the 2017 Challenge as the opportunity to meet other enthusiasts, to compete against classics as diverse as a Lagonda M45 and a Leyland P76 and to experience some of Japan’s heritage was one to be cherished.

For a full list of results click here