a rally in vintage cars, to the nearest tenth of a second

a rally in vintage cars, to the nearest tenth of a second
a rally in vintage cars, to the nearest tenth of a second

On the Place de la Brèche in Niort, the blue mini-car attracts all eyes. A Vespa 400 from 1959. “Here, there are no belts or airbags but two horns, one for the city and one for the countryside, louder,” the owner declares with a laugh.

The little Vespa 400 lined up at the start of the 4e Niort Classic Rally, Saturday, in Niort. Number 61. Objective: “Finish it!” » for Richard Bellamy, the pilot and Bénédicte, his wife and co-pilot, from Charente-Maritime. The oldest car in the race was, in fact, making its first major outing there, having been stored for four years in a workshop. A real challenge!

Bénédicte and Richard Bellamy, with their Vespa 400.
© (Photo NR)

Coming from Nice, Alsace, Belgium…

Until Sunday, the pretty collector’s car will have to complete 400 km on the roads of Deux-Sèvres. Not by breaking speed records. This rally, organized by the Deux-Sèvres Automobile Sports Association (ASA 79), rewards the most precise and regular crews in respecting an unmapped route at a set speed. “Some come from Alsace, Belgium, Nice… There aren’t many big events like ours. The atmosphere is nice and the setting magnificent,” rejoiced Richard Boinot, the treasurer and coordinator. In the pouring rain, it was in vain to dampen the morale of these enthusiasts.

“I have always loved old sports cars. I started rallying with my son about ten years ago. remembers Niortais Olivier Daude. The son has grown up and gone to study. And it was Valérie, his wife, who sat in the co-pilot’s seat. “I got her into it a little bit and now it’s a shared passion! » Number 33 for the fifty-year-old couple, driving a Peugeot 106 XSI.

“We don’t have time to admire the landscape!” »

On the co-pilot’s knees, the road book, the thick book indicating the route to follow over a succession of small distances, with an average speed to be respected so as to arrive at the next stage to the nearest second. But here, no map, just a drawing and a written indication of direction changes. No little voice either that says: “At the roundabout, take the second exit”. The little voice is Valérie, who must stay focused. “Sometimes he says to me, ‘Oh look over there!’ ” but I can not ! » she laughs. Glued to her travel diary, hyper-concentrated. “We don’t have time to admire the landscape!” »

But they like this “game” of extreme precision behind the wheel just as much. It’s exciting, but super tiring! » To the point that Madame played it safe to last the 400 km. “I have a box of paracetamol in my pocket! » At number 61, Richard Bellamy confirms: “The pilot just has to listen but in fact everything depends on the co-pilot, he’s the one who has the most work.” His co-pilot’s wife smiles and tickles him: “A bit like in life! »

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