The Samurai Challenge – a rally to remember

Posted on June 3, 2017.

Rally Round 2017 Samurai Challenge winners Martinus & Josephina Aaldering

Once again we’d like to say ‘Omedetoo gozaimasu‘ – congratulations in Japanese – to Martinus and Josephina Aaldering [pictured above] for driving their 1937 Alvis Speed 25 to an emphatic victory in last month’s groundbreaking Samurai Challenge, and of course to every finisher and award winner. This was the first international classic rally competition ever to visit Japan and everyone who took part enjoyed a thrilling and intensely fascinating experience – indeed we’ve received many glowing testimonials, which you may read below. For all who missed it, or wish to re-live it, we recommend our Samurai Challenge webpage, which includes links to our rally blog, photos, videos and detailed results from start to finish.

The whole Rally Round team would also like to express our profound appreciation to all the local prefectures and police authorities for helping us with our planning and allowing the rally to run through their jurisdictions, to the very many people such as Mr Yoshida who helped us gain exclusive access to places not open to the public, to all the tourist offices for their fantastic help and warm hospitality, to all the local garages that provided assistance and to Liqui Moly, which supplied the rally cars with protective fuel additive.

To all of the above, and to the many martial arts performers, puppeteers and visual artists who entertained us, not least the dragon dancers in Matsue and the Kodo Drummers of Sado Island, and to the very many other organisations and individuals who helped us on our way – especially our wonderful assistant Megumi – thank you again. And thanks of course to every individual participant who made the rally such a very great pleasure. ‘Arigatou gozaimashita.’

What they said about the Samurai Challenge

‘It was a brilliant rally, although we had our doubts in the first few days as it was so totally different to any we’d experienced before – they have always been in third-world countries and this certainly wasn’t! We weren’t sure how it was going to pan out but as ever you managed to give us amazing off-road tracks, exciting race circuits and regularities – too many for some but still brilliant – and so many varied and incredible experiences… Hiroshima was one of the stand-outs, along with the incredible mausoleum amongst the pines and of course Mount Fuji – just mind blowing. Too many ‘wow’ moments to list! An enormous thank you to you all!’ Bill & Biddy Bolsover, 1953 Jaguar XK120

‘What a trip. WHAT A TRIP. I wanted to scribble a quick thank you for your extraordinary powers of organisation. Another fantastic Rally Round effort and I wanted to say that my mob really, really enjoyed the event. Seamless logistics, excellent route, wonderful activities. Once again you and your fabulous team excelled with ridiculous attention to detail to create a superb experience for us all. Thank you. I hope the changing faces in car 14 weren’t too loud/disruptive/annoying – we all had a fantastic time with you and look forward to our next outing!’ Paddy Walker, Peter Hugh Dennis, Scott Greenhalgh & Richard Cunningham, 1937 Buick Coupe

‘We reached Yokohama safe and sound, and I’m delighted to say that our XK was at the hotel to meet us! We would both like to congratulate you for all the work that you put in over the last 3 weeks or so to ensure that we all had a memorable trip. We have enjoyed every moment, and will take some very good and lasting memories home with us. Please pass on our heartfelt thanks to the rest of your team – we know just what an effort was put in by one and all.  The Route book and descriptions  were excellent,  and a great compliment to John and Peter – we cannot imagine the hours that must have gone into their production. Into Japan were terrific too, and perhaps again you would pass on our thanks – they were an inspirational choice of partners. Again many thanks from the two of us.’ – Phillip & Yvonne Haslam, 1954 Jaguar XK120

‘Another great experience! Well done!’ – Gerry Crown & Matt Bryson, 1974 Leyland P76

‘A real spanker – many thanks! Just been laughing at the rally videos on YouTube – do I really sound that posh?’ – Chris, Jack & Sophie Evans – 1970 Fiat Moretti 850

‘Thanks to you and your team for a great time! Very well organized, no surprises – we like that. If one thing stands out it was probably the two days on Sado Island. Well worth the effort, although I must admit I had other thoughts before we got there!’ – Jan Woien & Jan Erik Hansen, 1935 Alvis Speed 20

‘We would like to thank you and all your crew for an excellent event. This was our first trip to Japan and you guys helped make it very memorable for us. We enjoyed it immensely and we are looking forward to doing more Rally Round events in future. In the meantime, we’d really like to know where Dr John is going to display all the treasure he acquired along the way!’ – David & Adele Cohen, 1964 Porsche 365

‘Thank you for a fantastic rally – we thoroughly enjoyed it and will treasure the memories. We can hardly wait to see the souvenir DVD and Photobook!’ – Ries & Lenie Oostlander, 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220 S

‘The rally was remarkably well organised in co-operation with your Japanese agents. The trip was a challenge and an adventure, full of amazing impressions of Japan. Thank you!’ – Johannes Lips, Johanna Schrijver & Julian Griffiths, 1952 Mercedes-Benz 220 B

‘Thank you for the Japanese experience. We enjoyed it all – the country, the people, the routes, the hotels, the food (mostly!) and everything else. We look forward to  the DVD and photos so we can see it all again!’ – Jan & Marion van Gemert, 1965 Ford Mustang