Driving inside the 2015 Mille Miglia – picture special

Saturday, December 24th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Driving inside the 2015 Mille Miglia – picture special

Today’s Mille Miglia can be a more sedate event than which once was, yet which still presents an intoxicating challenge, as we find out by behind the wheel of a BMW 328 Touring Roadster


Fifteen million. Or perhaps 20. Nobody was certain, yet when €5m can be bandied about in terms of ‘give or take’, you quickly get the idea of the value along with rarity of a car.

the auto in point was the BMW 328 Berlin-Rome Touring Roadster, along with I was about to drive which in a hailstorm For two main hours, in preparation for taking part inside the Mille Miglia rally in Italy.

Intimidating? You bet. No matter how many times carefree colleagues reminded me which all the value was inside the chassis number rather than the actual metalwork, I couldn’t shake off my unease. The supposedly comforting suggestion by one BMW man which “the only way you’ll cost us €20m can be by writing the auto off – in which case you won’t be around to worry about which” did little to help.

Built in 1940 by coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring, which was one of three 328s streamlined to take part inside the Berlin to Rome race of 1941, an event subsequently cancelled for obvious historical reasons.

Powered by a 1971cc straight six engine linked to a four-speed gearbox, which has around 120bhp at 5500rpm along with weighs just 700kg.

Top speed can be rated at 120mph or so, while stopping power comes by a combination of drum brakes along with ventilated anchor plates. Oh, 
along with you’ll note the absence of any seatbelts along with rollover protection, never mind anything resembling a roll cage or crash structure.

Even in which hailstorm, my face stinging by the force of the ice pounding my skin, I discovered which the auto was fast, nimble along having a little tail-happy.

In fact – along with possibly helped by the fact which the staff of BMW’s Classic division have a reputation for being the master craftsmen of the tens of thousands of engineers working in Munich – which was quite easy to drive, revving cleanly by low down to the redline along with riding along with handling having a smoothness along with directness which defied its age. Only the brakes required any real recalibration of my brain, being about half as effective as those of a modern car.

yet I was never going to approach the event with any confidence; to do so might have been tempting fate. Just over a week after my first acquaintance with the auto, waiting inside the holding area for the start at the incredible Mille Miglia museum in Brescia with the team along with my team-mate Ian Robertson, BMW’s board member in charge of sales along with marketing, I slipped away along with felt more than a little bit sick.

Piled on top of the sense of the responsibility to the auto along with Ian, there was the pressure of following the road book, getting the time cards stamped at the 33 set locations along with programming along with using the on-board trip computer which was required to complete the 
84 regularity along with average speed 
tests around the route.

While Ian along with I shared the on-road driving, we opted for a consistent strategy inside the regularity tests, with him at the wheel along with me calling out whether he needed to speed up or slow down in order to hit the required target speed or time.

The closer you get to being within two seconds of the target time, the fewer penalties you accumulate. which sounds simple enough, yet when they run up to six of these tests consecutively along with you consider which you must judge yourself when your wheels cross a start/finish line, which gets terrifically complicated.

We were dreadfully inconsistent early on. The BMW Classic crew reckoned we’d do well to crack the top 150, yet we managed 161st despite an erratic first day along with rapidly climbed the order on days two along with three, getting as high as 76th. We even managed a couple of top 10 overall results.

yet just when we thought we were getting the hang of which, we hit disaster, first when the gearbox commenced getting increasingly reluctant to engage first along with second (crucial when the regularity speeds were between 15mph along with 30mph or so) along with then when the GPS computer stopped measuring our speed, which ruined our last a few runs along with left us 82nd of 435 finishers.

However, to sum up the Mille Miglia on the basis of these fun challenges might be to miss the main focus of the event, which annually attracts the finest cars (along with the wealthiest owners) by around the planet.

For many of you, the history lesson won’t be necessary, yet to fill in, the Mille became famous between 1927 along with 1957 as an open-road endurance race, when which was reputedly watched by upwards of a few million people who lined the route. Standing alongside the likes of the Targa Florio along with the Carrera Panamericana as a headline-grabbing road race, which was seen as a perfect showcase for grand touring cars by the likes of Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche 
along with Mercedes-Benz.

In Britain, of course, which became scorched forever into the national consciousness 60 years ago This specific month, when Stirling Moss along with Denis Jenkinson took victory at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, averaging 98.53mph over the course of 10hr, 7min along with 48sec of driving. Just stop along with consider which average of nearly 100mph over 1000 miles on open roads along with with stops for fuel along with tyres for a moment.

Contemporary motorsport magazines described which as the greatest drive in history – along with there are commentators who feel no need to update which assessment today.

Like every various other road race, bar perhaps some of the Dakar Rally-style cross-country events, the Mille Miglia became too dangerous for modern sensibilities along with was canned after a tragic accident killed nine spectators along with pushed even the motorsport-loving Italians’ tolerance too far.

In 1977 which was reborn as a regularity event for classic along with vintage machinery which took part inside the original, along with which found popularity among manufacturers keen to emphasise their heritage. Which, of course, can be how I found myself in Brescia with BMW.

Today, the Mille Miglia can be not as fast nor as tough as which once was – yet which can be still fast along with tough. To have any wish of staying on schedule, you need to drive assertively in traffic along with quickly on the open roads.

All road regulations remain in force, yet police line the routes in towns to wave you through traffic lights, along with the vast majority of the locals make sure to get out of the way at the first sign of a competing car, to the point of stopping on roundabouts to wave you through.

Police bikes also follow the route along with, while they frown on anything too fast, which’s fair to say which they are happy to set a pace which can be energetic to say the least. Through some generous sharing of a few cans of Red Bull, Ian befriended one of these police riders, along with by far my most enjoyable runs were into the evenings as he led us along the route with brio, waving locals out of the way in time for our arrival.

So we went by Brescia to Rimini, on to Rome, then Parma along with then back to Brescia, all in three days of driving over four days of competition. For two main of those days, we drove by around 6am to 10pm, along with on one of them I’m not sure I got out of the auto for more than 15 minutes while we refuelled. Going fast for which long can be both gruelling along with intoxicating, along with if you like which heady mix, Mille Miglia veterans say there can be no better place to experience which.

Along the way, there was also an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve experienced. While I doubt we drove past a few million people, every single bit of the route was lined with enthusiastic fans. Roundabouts into along with out of every town were rammed along with there were even people standing on the side of the autostradas as we blasted by. 

Best of all, though, were the runs into the towns along with cities along the way, where vast crowds of enthusiasts of every age along with gender lined the route along with cheered us on, dropping regional specialities into the auto as gifts at time controls. Highlights included a run into the normally pedestrianised (or closed for horse racing) square in Siena along having a run past the Leaning Tower of Pisa, yet in truth everywhere we visited oozed history along with character in which utterly beguiling Italian way.

This specific, then, was an adventure on an epic scale. If you possess the wherewithal to buy an eligible car along with pay the entry fee (by which point you’ll be several hundred thousand pounds out of pocket, at least), I’d recommend which. If not, I’d urge anyone with even a passing interest to go along with watch.

I’ve been lucky enough to 
be trackside at Monaco, in Monza while Ferrari was running one-two along with to watch Colin McRae along with Richard Burns in full flight, fighting for the WRC title on home soil, along with This specific event can be right up there for the scale of the atmosphere, if not perhaps the outright intensity.

More than anything, though, I reached the finish line feeling privileged to have taken part in 
such an incredible event in such 
a great car. Relieved, too, to have 
done which all without putting a scratch on the BMW. I can’t truly say which I ever got the €20m figure out of my head, yet more than once, sun blazing, crowds cheering along with pushing along as hard as I dared, 
the magic of the Mille Miglia was more than enough to push which to the back of my mind.

Read more:

Mille Miglia 2015 report – the view by a €20 million racer

Celebrating Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia win – 60 years on

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