United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Area: 244,820 sq km
Climate: temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
Terrain: mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Fenland -4 m highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Geographynote: lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters
Population: 59,113,439 (July 1999 est.)
Ethnic groups: English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%, Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%, Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%
Religions: Anglican 27 million, Roman Catholic 9 million, Muslim 1 million, Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 400,000, Hindu 350,000, Jewish 300,000 (1991 est.)
Languages: English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
London is, of course, the home town to Phileas Fogg and from London he starts his journey "around the world in 80 days" according to Jules Verne's novel. Just like the modern rally, Phileas Fogg's journey around the world also ends in London after 80 days, but his route is quite different, travelling mostly by ship and train, through the Suez, traversing India, shortly passing by China and Japan, before finally traversing North America.
The modern-day rally is similar to Phileas Fogg's enterprise in that Mr. Fogg accepted a bet, he saw the sportive and technological challenge and he was, also, obsessed with time and time schedules. Jules Verne's novel is making use of the themes of modern industrialization. Today, technology and "civilisation" is far more advanced. For example, then, Phileas Fogg always manages to travel faster than a warrant following him from the UK, unthinkable in the modern information age.
Still, making use of old cars and driving through some of the more remote areas of this world makes this bet similarly difficult to fulfill. The only advantage we have in our rallye today is in the support the teams can provide each other with.
An electronic version of Jules Verne's (1828-1905) "Around the World in 80 Days" (1873), provided by the Project Gutenberg, can be found here (369 KB!). If you prefer the more comfortable HTML version (with pictures and chapters) you need to follow this link.
Route notes of the rally:
Sunday 30th April
The Royal Mint: Scrutineering checks. We are to drive some the best driving roads in France, on into Tuscany and Chianti, and on for classic roads of Greece - a super week beckons...
Monday 1st May - Day 1 London to Chantilly 394km
London's Tower Bridge is closed for our starting grid. After a high profile mid morning start, a quick dash to Dover (crossing the Greenwich Meridian on the way) sees you on the ferry for France and the start of the long distance adventure. A pleasant drive through the blossom fields and villages of the Pas de Calais and Picardie will bring you to the first night halt in the Chateau de Montvillargenne, built for the Rothschild's at the start of this century in Chantilly just north of Paris.
moving on to France.
On the return:
coming from France.
Tuesday 18th July - Day 80 Laon to London 360km
Taking advantage of the E15 takes you to Calais for the crossing back into the UK. After a short break at Brands Hatch Racing Circuit for a brief re-group before heading into the city and finish at the Royal Mint.
Tuesday 18th July
Prizegiving and Party