Drivers from six countries and every Australian mainland State and Territory make up the field for the 13th Classic Adelaide tarmac rally, which starts tomorrow.

The entry of almost 18 cars and crew includes representatives from Britain the United States, Spain, New Zealand, Italy and Malaysia, ready to tackle an event that has become a South Australian institution and renowned as one of the world’s best for its combination of challenging closed-road stages, beautiful scenery and plentiful off-track social activity.

English enthusiast Sir Paul Vestey and his co-driver, motoring historian and author Doug Nye, will run a magnificent 1959 Ferrari California Spider in the Thoroughbred Touring category.

The blood-red, 240 kmh roadster is possibly the most valuable in the event – a similar model sold for $11.3 million last year.

While Vestey and Nye will be running their 13th Classic Adelaide, it will be the first for the American owner of another rare and valuable car.

Pat Matthews and partner Patti Paulson have shipped their black 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “gullwing” coupe from Sonoma, California.

“I’ve been wanting to do Classic Adelaide for years and having retired about a year ago we have finally been able to come,” said Matthews, whohas 24 other classic cars at home.

“After we do Classic Adelaide, we’re going to drive the car up the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and then around Tasmania. It’s a wonderful thing to drive and I won’t be surprised if we do a couple of thousand miles (3200 kms) on this trip.”

Retired English racing driver Win Percy has already toured Tasmania then driven to Adelaide in the Jaguar XF sedan he’ll run this week.

Now a Spanish resident, the 1990 Bathurst 1000 winner is confident his diesel-engined luxury machine will be able to match more conventional sports cars on the 32 closed-road special stages of the rally.

The other internationals in the field are Teo Kai, from Malaysia, in a 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo, Italian Danny Vettoletti in a 1969 Lancia Fulvia HF and Garry Boyce, from New Zealand, in a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL.

Classic Adelaide Chairman and founder David Edwards welcomed the international entrants.

“We work hard every year to promote the event and the State for our supporters, the South Australian Government, and are always pleased to see the fruits of this in new and returning entrants,” Mr Edwards said.

“They add great interest to the event and we hope they return home from a wonderful experience to further promote South Australia through the media and their friends.”

South Australians comprise the majority of Australian entrants.

After the completion of documentation and vehicle mechanical inspections today, crews will attend a welcome party tonight.

Tomorrow’s highlights are a lunchtime parade along King William Street and the Prologue competition to set starting order, from 12 midday on a stage up Mount Barker Road to the Eagle on the Hill.

The main part of Classic Adelaide starts on Thursday morning outside the Hilton Adelaide in Victoria Square and finishes on Sunday afternoon in King William Road, Hyde Park.

Variety SA, the children’s charity, is the official charity of Classic Adelaide.
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