Rallying: Classic revival

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THE London-Sydney marathon, which starts at Chelsea Harbour on 17 April, is to be sponsored by Lombard North Central, who have withdrawn their sponsorship of the RAC Rally after a 19-year association, writes Derick Allsop.

This re-enactment of the 1968 event has attracted an entry of 106 cars of the period. The 11,500-mile trek will cross 15 countries and end at the Sydney Opera House on 16 May. Brian Carte, chief executive of Lombard, Britain's leading finance house, said: 'This event is a magnificent motoring adventure, a welcome departure from the rarified hi-tech world of modern world championship rallying. We believe it will have enormous public appeal because it features classic cars of the Sixties.'

Lombard have taken an option on the next two ventures planned by the event's director, Nick Brittan: London to Sydney next year by a different route and the 25th anniversary of the London to Mexico marathon, in 1995.

Twenty-five of the competitors from the original London-Sydney event will take part, including Andrew Cowan and his Hillman Hunter, the victorious combination from 1968. He said: 'The Hunter wasn't the fastest and still isn't, but it's built like a country outhouse and could well outlast some of the young sprinters.' Another entrant confirmed was Mark Thatcher - on the 11th anniversary of his disappearance in the desert during the Paris-Dakar rally.