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English racing driver Win Percy will reunite with Jaguar, the make that brought him renown at Le Mans and Bathurst, to tackle the Classic Adelaide international tarmac rally later this month.

Percy will return to Classic Adelaide after an absence of several years to drive a current Jaguar XF sedan in the Thoroughbred Touring category of the 18-22 November event – and it will be an occasion of special significance.

The international racing community, including in Australia where he raced 10 times in the Bathurst 1000, was shocked in 2003 when Percy became a paraplegic as a result of failed back surgery.

This is his first visit to Australia since then and he is looking forward to running again on the Classic Adelaide roads, meeting old friends and using the Jaguar’s specially-fitted hand controls to drive the Jaguar “very hard”.

“We’re on a nine-week trip from Spain, where I now live. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be back, but I’m having a ball and the finale will be Classic Adelaide,” Percy said.

“I’m looking forward to it so much. It’s a wonderful event.”

Percy drove Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) works Jaguar sports cars at Le Mans, Silverstone and other major circuits during the 1980s and 1990s, but he also developed a strong following in Australian touring car racing for his talent behind the wheel and affable personality.

With Walkinshaw he debuted a Jaguar XJS in the 1985 Bathurst 1000, finishing third, then won the 1990 Great Race with Allan Grice in a Holden Commodore VL entered by the Holden Racing Team, which he had founded that year for TWR.

A switch to historic racing from the late 1990s, including a Jaguar D-Type at Le Mans and Goodwood, led to his entry in Classic Adelaide.

Percy drove a Sunbeam Tiger V8, Robnell AC Cobra replica and a rare lightweight Jaguar E-Type before his disability.

This time his Jaguar will be starting in the Thoroughbred Touring category and, despite being a luxurious saloon with a 3.0 litre diesel engine, it is expected to be impressively fast.

His co-driver from past events, well-known Melbourne new-car dealer Stephen Coffey, will again be calling directions.

“Jaguar Cars Australia have supplied the XF and put in hand controls for the brake and throttle,” Percy said.

“It’s a dream to drive. It’s absolutely opened my eyes and the feel of the 3.0-litre diesel is incredible.

“I’ll be driving it very hard.”

Among old Bathurst adversaries Percy can expect to encounter in Classic Adelaide will be Jim Richards (Porsche GT2), Glen Seton (Nissan 370Z) and Tony Longhurst (Subaru Impreza), but it’s the event itself he’s most keen to tackle again.

“The event is unique for the people who put up with their roads being closed for us, to the roads themselves and the fact you are based in one hotel and don’t have to pack up and move on every night,” he said.

“I hope it’s not my last Classic Adelaide, but if it is I’ll be sure it’s going to be a great one.”

Described as one of the world’s best tarmac rallies, the 13th annual Classic Adelaide, supported by the South Australian Government and South Australia Tourism Commission, is expected to welcome up to 200 cars from around Australia and overseas in Competition and Touring categories for Modern, Classic and Historic Cars.

A week of festivities and friendly competition will start on Sunday 15 November with the traditional BEA Motors Car Show, comprising a mouth-watering display of competing and non-competing classic cars in Adelaide’s Victoria Square.

A cavalcade along King William Street precedes the Prologue on the Climb to the Eagle road on Wednesday, when starting order will be set for the first day of competition on Thursday.

The cars and two-person crews will start every morning outside rally headquarters, the Hilton Adelaide Hotel in Victoria Square, with more than 30 closed-road special stages taking them through some of the most scenic areas of the Adelaide region over four days.

Spectators will be able to view the cars in action from reserved viewing areas on the stages and at rest in displays in Gouger Street on Friday night and the Norwood Street Party on Saturday night. The official finish on Sunday afternoon will be at a new venue in King William Road, Hyde Park.

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