Friday, 28 June 2013


The early-morning sun glistened across Lake Bled as the Silver Ghosts, led by the Radley car and accompanied by the 2013 Alpine Trial Centenary Collection Rolls-Royce Ghost, weaved their way out of the town and onwards through pretty local villages. The longest run of the 2013 Centenary Alpine Trial, the route was designed to replicate the long days travelled in 1913 and also the last day of the original Trial.

Passing the scene of yesterday's triumph – the Loibl Pass – the cars climbed the Klein Loibl summit (770 m), tackling tight hairpins on the descent. Hugging the Austrian-Slovenian border and passing several eerily deserted border controls – a clear indication of the changes in European history since the time of the 1913 Alpenfahrt – then a steady climb to Radlpass/Radelj (679 m). The modern sweeping curves gave way to the original road with gradients of at least 18%, with very steep sections and tight hairpins.

The imposing Stubalpe or Gaberlsattel (1547 m) proved no challenge to the Radley car, with its owner, John Kennedy, piloting the car up the pass with consummate skill, the car seeming to arrive at the summit as if carried by the same clouds as those skirting the peaks in the distance. The pass also gave an opportunity for the modern Rolls-Royce Ghosts, that have accompanied the Trial throughout, to clearly demonstrate their lineage, wafting majestically up the pass.

A warming and celebratory bowl of local soup was consumed before the long drive to Semmering, with many of the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts cruising at a comfortable 100 km/h. Quite extraordinary considering the age of most, and a reminder that the moniker 'Best Car in the World' was deserved.

The overnight stop was at the iconic Panhans Grand Hotel, 1000 metres above sea level and steeped in history. At the time of the 1913 Alpenfahrt, the hotel had 400 rooms and was one of the largest in Central Europe.