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1902 car’s epic run to seaside

Rosie Battye pictured her 1902 Panhard et Levassor Tonneau car at her home at Batley....1st November 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme

Rosie Battye pictured her 1902 Panhard et Levassor Tonneau car at her home at Batley....1st November 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme

IT was a drive to the seaside with a difference.

On Saturday Rosie Battye braved the rain to drive from London to Brighton – in a car more than 100 years old.

The motoring enthusiast took on the challenge of the world’s oldest motoring event, which sees hundreds of veteran cars line up in Hyde Park, London, hoping to make it to Brighton.

Rosie was one of a few women to take the driver’s seat in the motoring challenge with her 1902 Panhard at Levassor Tonneau, a car bought around 15 years ago by her late father, Batley businessman Steven Battye.

The car has an average speed of 30mph, a 20 horsepower four-cylinder engine, and is the only one of its kind still in existence.

Rosie has taken part in the famous run 31 times, and this year was the third year she took the Panhard down to the capital for the London to Brighton event.

“We spent about six hours polishing so that it looked its best,” she said.

“Driving such an old car is very much a mental challenge.

“It is very much about anticipation at things like traffic lights because it takes so long to stop and get started but that’s why I think it is so much fun.”

She has only failed to finish once – a risk when driving veteran cars - and was one of 449 motors taking part in the historic event, first held 116 years ago.

Rosie’s brother, Joseph, and her aunt and uncle joined her on the journey to Brighton – but the team had no mechanic on stand-by.

The car is maintained by a Batley mechanic who makes the parts so that the car can be repaired, and Rosie admitted her mechanical knowledge only stretched to ‘putting in water and oil’.

Despite hoping for a dry day, they had to brave torrential rain as they left Hyde Park at 7am on Sunday.

Ian Moore, of Hampshire, was the first to finish at 10.21am in an 1899 Panhard et Levassor, while the last to arrive at Madeira Drive was Derek Payne, who travelled from Brisbane, Australia to compete in a 1901 De Dion Bouton.

Derek, who drove a veteran car for the first time on Sunday, borrowed the vehicle from his boss.

He limped across the finish line at 16.38 after experiencing technical difficulties throughout the run.

 

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