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The Samurai Challenge

12 April – 5 May 2017


The first competitive UK-organised rally ever to visit Japan

Latest News & Entries

As you can see from the list below, we’ve had a wonderful response to our latest driving adventure. The Samurai Challenge is the first UK-organised competitive rally ever to visit Japan, running over 23 days in Spring 2017 – cherry blossom season – when crews will compete on a series of regularity sections along a spectacular route of 3,272km (2,033miles) from Fukuoka in the south to Lake Toya in the north. Following the pattern established on our highly acclaimed events in Burma and Bhutan, the Samurai Challenge will run to a relaxed schedule – the average daily distance is just 192km (119miles). As well as driving some of Japan’s most exciting roads, participants will enjoy luxury hotels and fine dining with plenty of time to socialise and to experience some of the country’s greatest natural, man-made and cultural treasures, from primeval landscapes and brooding volcanoes to the brilliant, neon-lit metropolis of Toyko and the island home of the internationally renowned Kodo Drummers.

Suitable for crews of any experience level, including novices, the Samurai Challenge is open to all veteran, vintage and classic cars of a type in production before 1974; there will also be a non-competitive Touring Category, open to any car. Navigation will be by straightforward tulip roadbook, with distances given in kilometres and miles, and there will be no car-breaking sections or night-driving. As ever, the rally will be accompanied by fully qualified medical and mechanical support.

Simultaneously ancient and futuristic, Japan is one of the most fascinating countries on earth, and the rally quickly attracted more than 50 crews, from 15 nations. You may peruse the provisional entry list below, noting a great new Australian entry from endurance rally veterans and multiple Peking to Paris winners Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson, who are bringing their big Leyland P76. Meanwhile we have a few crew and car changes. Chris Evans will now be partnered by Sophie Evans in the little Fiat Moretti, whilst Frank and Jason Bird will be accompanied  by fellow Australian Maurie Smith in the Jensen Interceptor. Bill and Biddy Bolsover have jumped from a 1924 Bentley into a 1953 Jaguar, Herman and Vera de Jong have plumped for a 1935 Bentley rather than a 1937 Alvis and Marco Halter and Claudia Engelhardt have swapped their 1969 Chevrolet Camaro for a 1963 Ford Falcon.

As for the event organisation, we are pleased to have two highly experienced officials – Peter Rushforth as Route Designer and Clerk of the Course (see the Rally Round Team page for more details) and Deputy CoC John Bayliss, who will also handle Results. We will publish their fascinating recce report shortly. In the meantime you will find a summary of the rally itinerary in the event brochure, which you may read or download via the link on this page, along with the regulations and a useful Q&A (which you may also read below); we will happily send you a hard copy on request. If you would like more information please contact us via the Enquire button, above – we are always happy to hear from you.

Provisional Entries

 DriverCo-DriverCarEngine Size (cc)
Cornelis Willemse (NLD)Ingeborg Van t' Hof (NLD)1925 Chrysler B-70 Phaeton3294
Chris Lunn (GBR)Christopher Myers (GBR)1929 Bentley 4.54398
Engelbertus Kersten (NLD)Franklin Soree (NLD)1931 Bentley 8.07983
Jose Romao de Sousa (PRT)Maria Romao de Sousa (PRT)1932 Alvis Speed 20 SA2511
Martin Egli (CHE)Anne Egli (CHE)1933 Lagonda M454453
Jan Dingemans (BEL)Marleen Dingemans (BEL)1933 Lagonda M454467
Geoff Rawlings (GBR)Penny Rawlings (GBR)1934 Talbot AV95/1052995
Jan Woien (NOR)Jan Erik Hansen (NOR)1935 Alvis Speed 203571
Adrian Shooter (GBR)Barbara Shooter (GBR)1935 Ford V8 Coupe3622
Herman de Jong (NLD)Vera de Jong (NLD)1935 Bentley Derby Tourer3669
Martinus Aaldering (NLD)Josephina Aaldering-Freriks (NLD)1936 Alvis Speed 253571
Xavier del Marmol (BEL)Ines Bodmer (CHE)1937 Chevrolet Master DeLuxe DHC4000
Paddy Walker (GBR)Peter Dennis (GBR) / Scott Greenhalgh (GBR) / Richard Cunningham (GBR)1937 Buick Coupe4000
Jean Steinhauser (LUX)Anne Steinhauser (LUX)1937 Bentley Derby Open Tourer4410
Michael McInerney (GBR)Eunice McInerney (GBR)1940 Ford V8 Coupe3622
Johannes Lips (BEL)Julian Griffiths (GBR)1952 Mercedes-Benz 220 B2195
Bill Bolsover (GBR)Biddy Bolsover (GBR)1953 Jaguar XK1203440
Phillip Haslam (GBR)Yvonne Haslam (GBR)1954 Jaguar XK120 DHC3449
Keith Ashworth (GBR)Norah Ashworth (GBR)1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC3442
FM Claessens (NLD)Antoinette Claessens (NLD)1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I 49007428
Rob van Ravensteijn (NLD) / Willem VermeulenEllen Vermeulen (NLD)1956 Jaguar XK1403442
Ries Oostlander (NLD)Lenie Oostlander (NLD)1957 Mercedes-Benz 220 S2200
David Harrison (GBR)Julia Harrison (GBR)1958 Porsche 356A1600
Chris Krzak (GBR)Carol Krzak (GBR)1960 Jaguar XK1503850
Marco Halter (CHE)Claudia Engelhardt (DEU)1963 Ford Falcon4950
Mauro Faldini (ITA)Anna Faldini (ITA)1964 Coombs Jaguar Mk23442
David Cohen (CAN)Adele Cohen (CAN)1965 Porsche 3561600
Hans-Ulrich Wartenweiler (CHE)Ursula Berger (CHE)1965 Volvo 1221780
Shaun Dixon (GBR)Eleanor Dixon (GBR)1965 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL2306
Gerald Crown (AUS)Matt Bryson (AUS)1974 Leyland P764400
Jan van Gemert (NLD)Marion van Gemert (NLD)1965 Ford Mustang4727
Hans Middelberg (USA)Jurgen Grolman (DEU)1967 Ford Mustang Convertible4727
Alastair Caldwell (GBR)Laurel Smith (USA)1968 Porsche 9121972
Dean Golding (GBR)Kendal Golding (GBR)1969 Rolls-Royce Corniche6250
Philip Macwhirter (AUS)Laurette Macwhirter (AUS)1969 Morgan Plus 83525
Chris Evans (GBR)Sophie Evans (GBR)1970 Fiat Moretti 850982
Colin Winkelman (USA)Luca Fiore (IT) / Adam Karger (USA) / Lexton Moy (USA) 1971 Datsun 240Z2343
Roger Allen (AUS)Maggie Gray (AUS)1971 BMW 2800CS2788
LLoyd Reddington (CAN)Treacy Reddington (CAN)1971 Morgan Plus 8 3525
Nicholas Pryor (GBR)Lesley Stockwell (GBR)1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SL3499
Frank Bird (AUS)Jason Bird (AUS) / Maurie Smith (AUS)1972 Jensen Interceptor7196
Alan Pontin (GBR)Carol Pontin (GBR)1973 Jaguar E-Type V125344
Marco Fila (ITA)Stephanie Gout (MEX)1976 Bentley Corniche6750
Philip Garratt (GBR)Kieron Brown (GBR)1977 Triumph Stag2997
Gerd Buhler (DEU)Birgit Deymann-Buhler (DEU)1979 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC4520
Jan Tonnby (CHE/SWE)Ingela Tonnby (CHE/SWE)1982 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL4973
Jonathon Lyons (GBR)Leandro Albuquerque (BRA)1983 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL4973
Norman Yung (GBR)Liza Yung (GBR)1999 Bentley Continental6750
Giorgio Cumin (ITA)Carla Bonassi (ITA)TBCTBC
Klaus Konopizky (AUT)Barbara Konopizky (DEU)TBCTBC
Fritz Kozka (DEU)Gabriele Jaeger-Kozka (DEU)TBCTBC

2013 Paris-Madrid competitor Kjeld Jessen with Marjolijn Jessen in a 1925 Bugatti T13 Brescia, pictured near Mount Fuji. In 2017, this could be you!


Who can take part in this event? The Samurai Challenge is designed to suit complete novices as well as experienced rally crews. The route will be set out in a detailed road book containing distances in kilometres and miles, road numbers or names, written instructions and tulip diagrams; there will be no night driving, trick navigation or map work. We offer assistance with event and car preparation, rally timing and navigation, and hold a special briefing for novices before the start; you will also find guidance on all these subjects and more in the Advice pages of our website. All you need is a tripmeter fitted to your car, a stopwatch, a pen and a sense of adventure!

Do I need a Competition Licence? You do not need competition licences, helmets or fireproof overalls. This is not a speed event but a road rally, operating within normal Japanese road traffic rules. There will be no closed-road contests or scary blasts through towns and villages. The rally competition will be based on two or more Regularity Tests per day, requiring adherence to a safe average speed (fully explained in our On the Event Advice page) and we may enjoy a few laps at test tracks and run manoeuvrability challenges around traffic cones. However, with relaxed daily schedules and relatively short driving distances you will always have the opportunity for a leisurely lunch with your fellow participants and ample time to pause and enjoy the stunning scenery and other attractions en route.

What if I don’t want to compete, and prefer to drive for fun? No problem. Enter the Touring Category (open to any car) and you may travel at your own pace within the overall daily schedule, without reference to the competition timing. Our events are highly sociable and you will still be as much a rally participant as everyone else, driving the same route, enjoying the same excursions, dining and sleeping in the same hotels, standing your round at the bar and swapping stories until the early hours!

What sort of car do I need? In the competition category, any vintage or classic car of a type that was in production before 1974 is eligible. Later model variants and modifications may be acceptable depending on specification; please contact the Rally Round office for advice. The roads we use are generally smooth tarmac, so if you service and prepare your car properly, uprate its suspension and fit a sump shield for protection, it will be able to cope. We also recommend that you fit a roll cage and safety harnesses, although these are not compulsory. Your car must be fitted with a tripmeter (average-speed displays are not permitted, or must be disabled) and you will need to carry a few items specified in the event regulations, such as a first-aid kit. Comprehensive guidance on car preparation and essential equipment may be found in the Advice section of our website.

What about fuel availability? There is no shortage of fuel (including 96+ RON superunleaded) on the rally route. As of January 2016, the average petrol/gasoline price in Tokyo was ¥1.40 per litre (£0.82 / €1.09 / $1.19 / AU$1.71). Diesel is slightly cheaper.

What will the weather and road conditions be like? Avoiding the rainy season, the rally has been timed to follow the spring flowering of the cherry blossom as we drive through Japan. Temperatures should be very pleasant, mild and slightly warmer than Europe, although colder in the north. The tarmac roads are generally in excellent repair and there will be no car-breaking sections, rough tracks or sand.

Do I need to arrange insurance? We are an Introducer Appointed Representative of Tyser & Co Ltd (‘Tysers’) – an Insurance Intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 308648. We are confident that Tysers will be able to make all necessary insurance arrangements which you may require. An application form will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit or entry fee. Having received the completed form, Tysers will issue quotations to you for Motor, Transit & Travel insurance. Note that personal travel/accident insurance is compulsory; we will also send you details of a tailor-made policy with Campbell Irvine Ltd, who have been covering drivers for more than 20 years; the cost is usually about £140.00 per person depending on medical history. Please also note that we will arrange Third Party vehicle insurance with our Japanese agents and this is included in the entry fee. You are free to arrange alternative cover if you wish; CARS EUROPE offers optional Marine Transit Insurance, for example.

What about Visas and a Carnet de Passage? Japan does not require Visas from British and most European Nationals; please go to www.travcour.com to check the list of countries exempt from Visa requirements. A Carnet de Passage is a document that allows you temporarily to import and export your car to and from Japan; this will be arranged on your behalf if you use CARS EUROPE for shipping. The fee for the Carnet is based on the estimated value of your car; the lower your estimate, the lower the fee.

What support services are provided? Rally Round is dedicated to first-class customer care and we will do our utmost to assist you at all times. We have our own mobile medical unit, carrying comprehensive supplies and driven by our experienced and fully qualified Rally Doctor, who runs a surgery every evening in the hotel. We also have our own team of skilled and resourceful mechanics and mobile workshops superbly equipped with general spares, tools and equipment to keep you on the road or tow you to a garage or place of safety if your car is beyond immediate repair. You will also find your fellow rallyists are more than willing to help you. Nevertheless all entrants are entitled to the same level of support, so we expect you to be reasonably self-reliant, at least capable of routine maintenance and changing tyres, oil or fuel filters without assistance. Our experienced marshalling teams are always happy to explain the intricacies of rally timing and navigation, results and penalties (or simply to confirm the best bar in town!) and we will also be accompanied by Japanese agents with extensive local knowledge.

How much money should I carry? Hotel accommodation, breakfast and evening meals are all included in the entry fee, as are many lunches and some coffee halts. However, we cannot supply free alcohol, so you should certainly bring money for drinks. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are plentiful, but it is useful to carry cash for swift hotel checkouts and fuel stops, tips, snacks, souvenirs and so on. We also recommend keeping an emergency cash reserve for any roadside assistance that might conceivably be needed.

Anything else I need to know? Novices in particular are encouraged to read the Advice section of our website, and to raise any questions with the Rally Round office. We will send you updates and newsletters in the run-up to the rally, providing specific recommendations for the event and anything else you need in order to arrive at the start-line fully prepared for a wonderful three weeks in Japan. Rally Round founder Liz Wenman and Rally Director Heidi Winterbourne have between them organised and run more than 50 international events over the last 20 years, whilst also driving and navigating in numerous vintage and classic rallies worldwide. Drawing on this unrivalled experience, they will ensure that the Samurai Challenge is an exciting, enjoyable and truly memorable adventure for all.

If you have any other questions, do please contact the Rally Round office. We speak five languages, and we’re here to help!