VOTD 2015

The Alpine EuroHoon

N.B. This is the EuroHoon we did in 2015. Obviously Book-a-Track prices and dates are no longer relevant, but it gives a great basis for creating an epic road trip. Good Luck!

Welcome to the VOTD 2015 EuroHoon!

The itinerary is detailed here; all of the epic roads, hotels and tracks we’ll encounter on the way. There are two possible start dates, depending on if you’d like to join the Book-a-Track ‘Valencia & Barcelona’ trip.

Roll’em out!

Book-A-Track ‘Valencia & Barcelona’ (Sept 13th – 17th): Optional

Timetable (Sept ’15):

Sunday 13th: Fly to Valencia

Monday 14th: Trackday @ Ricardo Tormo Circuit

Tuesday 15th: Travel to Barcelona

Wednesday 16th: Trackday @ Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya

Thursday 17th: Trackday @ Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya

Pricing:

  • Valencia & Barcelona £1125 per car for 3 day trip
  • Additional drivers (own car) £50 each per day Additional drivers (rental cars only) £100 each per day
  • Passengers £10 each per day

Transportation:

For your convenience, we offer a car transportation service whereby your car is taken fully insured by covered car transporter from the UK to both circuits and finally back to the UK. Several trucks will be travelling from the UK from a couple of different departure points, Donington Park Circuit, Fenny Compton and Chelmsford.

Exact pricing will depend on the size and weight of your car, as well as any wheels/tyres and tools that need to be carried. Prices start at £995 for a Caterham-sized car (upto 3 metres) with luggage inside the cockpit, up to £1150 for larger cars with a separate set of wheels & tyres.

European clients can have their cars transported too but unfortunately the price is the same as travelling from the UK.

Servicing & Tyres:

Additionally, BaT can also transport tyres, parts and fluids. Mechanical assistance is available for tyre and fluid changes. Useful before the adventure home!

The Circuits:

Valencia Ricardo Tormo Circuit

Circuit Ricardo Tormo is located in Cheste (Valencia, Spain) and built in 1999. It has a capacity of 120,000. It is often used as a test track by the Formula One teams, because of the mild temperatures in winter. Anthony Davidson holds the unofficial lap record, set in 2006 while testing a Honda RA106, with a time of 1 m 08.540sec.

Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya

The circuit has been the site of some memorable moments. In 1991, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell went down the entire front straight side-by-side while dueling for second place, with Mansell eventually taking the position and ultimately the race itself. In 1994, Michael Schumacher managed to finish in second place despite driving over half the race with only fifth gear. In 2001, Mika Häkkinen suffered a clutch failure while leading the race on the last lap, handing the win to Schumacher. At the 2006 event, Fernando Alonso became the first Spanish Formula One driver to win at his home country’s track.

Thursday 17th:

Ribes de Freser

After finishing the second day on track at Circuit de Catalunya, we head north to Ribes de Freser, base of the famous N152 pass over the Pyrenees.

Route: Circuit de Catalunya – Ribes de Freser

Passes: None

Travel Time: 1h

Ribes de Freser (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈriβəz ðə fɾəˈze]) is a municipality in the comarca of the Ripollès in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is situated at the confluence of the Freser, Rigard and Segadell rivers, 14 km (8.7 mi) north of Ripoll. It is known for its mineral water, paper manufacture and milk products, and is also an important tourist centre. A rack-railway runs from the town to Queralbs and to the shrine of Núria, through the Vall de Núria. The town is on the communication route from Barcelona to Puigcerdà (N-152 road and RENFE railway line).

– Wikipedia

Friday 18th:

Ribes de Freser to Saint Tropez

It’s an early start to head out over the Pyrenees on the famous N152. Jeremy Clarkson rates the N152 as one of the finest in Europe, due to it’s light traffic and classic mountain twists, just watch out for the odd wandering sheep. Heading down in to France it’s then a coastal blast to Saint Tropez.

Route: Ribes de Freser – Saint Tropez

Passes: N152

Travel Time: 7h

The road has excellent visibility, important when you have a cliff face on one side and a sheer drop on the other! Watch out though, as you may come across sheep cattle or even horses on this road, so it’s important to keep concentration levels high.

After leaving Ribes de Freser the road immediately narrows and you come across a large signpost that warns you that the road ahead contains bends for 45kms, and that’s just to the Col de Toses, with a further 22 kms after the Col to Puigcerda. The road then becomes a delight to drive, with every kind of twist and turn, heading upwards to the Col de Toses (1800M). A break to consider and recover is recommended! The views along the Serra de Cadi valley are awesome at this point.

From here the downhill run through to Puigcerda is full of fast smooth roads with good visibility.

– drivingforpleasure.co.uk

Saint-Tropez

Saint-Tropez is located on the French Riviera. It was a military stronghold and an unassuming fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first town on this coast to be liberated during World War II (as part of Operation Dragoon). After the war, it became an internationally known seaside resort, renowned principally because of the influx of artists of the French New Wave in cinema and the Yé-yé movement in music. It later became a resort for the European and American jet set and a goal for tourists in search of a little Provençal authenticity and an occasional celebrity sighting.

Saturday 19th:

Saint-Tropez to Castellemonte, Italy

Heading out from the glamorous port of Saint Tropez we head east along the coast to Cannes, made famous by the world renowned film festival. It’s not worth stopping here though as the town is a little shabby with pickpockets and opportunist thieves liking to target tourists. Making a sharp exit we blast north on our first ‘drivers’ route; Route Napoleon.

After enjoying the twists and turns of Route Napoleon we then wind our way north-east down the Col du Labouret and in to Castellamonte for our first night on Italian soil.

Route: Saint Tropez – Castellamonte

Passes: Route Napoleon, Col du Labouret

Travel Time: 8h

Details:

Route Napoleon via Gorges du Verdon

Route Napoléon, first opened in 1932, following the route famously taken by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. Napoléon had abdicated in April of 1814, but in March of 1815, he travelled north with the intention to overthrow Louis the 18th.

The Route Napoleon itself begins in Grasse, the route then continues all the way to Grenoble over 150km away, tracing its way through both the Alps Maritimes and the Alps. Our route takes in the southern part of the road between Grasse and Digne, allowing drivers to enjoy it’s flowing design, with cambered corners, smooth tarmac and fantastic scenery. In contrast to the mountain passes this route is more designed for speed and the ability to really appreciate the performance of the car.

If time allows, the opportunity to enjoy a coffee over looking the Verdon Gorge, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, shouldn’t be missed. Almost 25km long and up to 700m deep, the Verdon River has cut an impressive path. Made even more impressive by it’s startling turquoise-green colour.

Sunday 20th:

Castellamonte to Oberwald

It’s Sunday, time to relax or maybe not! Today is all about the famous Colle de Nivolet. This pass paid host to the original Italian Job, being the location for several of the scenes, including the final bus crash. The road traverses the eastern group of the Graian Alps, reaching an elevation of over 8,500 ft.

Recommended to by Oli Marriage of Top Gear Magazine, this route is one of the most impressive in the Alps. It’s a dead end though, so we’ll be driving to the top and turning round to drive all the way back. Great spot for a morning coffee.

After tackling Colle de Nivolet, we head north and over the boarder in to Switzerland. A short blast (at the speed limit!) east to our hotel for the night in Oberwald at the base of the Furka Pass.

Route: Castellamonte – Oberwald

Passes: Colle de Nivolet

Travel Time: 6h

Details:

Colle de Nivolet

Colle de Nivolet reaches an elevation of over 8,500 ft in the Graian Alps and was setting for the famous bus crash in the original Italian Job.

The pass crosses through the centre of Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. Stretching over a 40km, the climb provides steep assents, tight hairpins and stunning views. The pass also holds one of the steepest tunnels in the Alps with a gradient of 14%.

Starting out as the SP460 from Pont Canavese, the road follows the Orco valley as you travel to Locana, a small Italian village. This is where the climb really begins, initially there are three steep hairpins, which are followed by the intimidating 3.5km tunnel, dimly lit and very steep, it leads to Ceresole Reale. From here the road becomes the SP50 and it’s 33 hairpins to the end of the road near the summit.

Frequently closed due to heavy snowfall and avalanche, it’s a potential icy challenge, but the views and kudos are worth the effort.

Monday 21st:

Oberwald to Disentis

If only every Monday could be like this, a bumper collection of fast sweeping classic Alpine passes, high assents and challenging paved roads.

We start the day by climbing north out over the Grimsel Pass, past the Grimselsee reservoir, climbing to the Totensee lake at over 7,000 ft. We then head down to Innerkirchen and take turn to the east, getting good views of the Stein Glacier as we traverse the Susten Pass.

Looping down through Wassen and Hospental, it’s our first chance to pretend to be Bond, James Bond as we twist our way over the Furka Pass made famous in the film ‘Goldfinger’.

Driving through our starting point we head south to the second highest pass in Switzerland, Nufenen Pass. Opened in 1969 it offers spectacular views of the Bernese Alps.

Reaching Airolo, we then have a choice of the smooth, wide and modern St. Gotthard Pass or the slow, tricky and paved road of the Tremola. Before heading east from Hospental and making our way to our evening stop in Disentis for a well earned beer.

Route: Oberwald – Disentis

Passes: Grimsel Pass, Susten Pass, Furka Pass, Nufenen Pass, Tremola Pass

Travel Time: 5h

Details:

Grimsel Pass

Often resembling a rocky lunar landscape the Grimsel Pass offers stunning views and classic Alpine hairpin action. An engineering masterpiece the road carves it way across the pass, leading along the banks of a number of gem-like reservoirs. Built in 1894, it’s high and cold, often snowing in the middle of summer. The Swiss postal service use it to keep Meiringen and Oberwald connected, so there are often snowploughs keeping the way clear.

Travelling north we have a great mix of a steep, tight hairpin climb with a sweeping fast forest lined decent.

Susten Pass

The initial stretch sweeps its way slowly up a beautiful scenic valley floor, road then steepens and starts to hugs the granite walls of the valley as it slowly climbs, with a series of beautiful sweepers, with great views to the road ahead, before a final tighter stretch with some nice switchbacks to the top. On the way back down make sure you stop for views of the Stein Glacier, there are a couple of decent parking areas on the way down (around 600M from the top of the pass), and its well worth stopping as you can get a great picture of your car with the glacier as a dramatic backdrop.

– ultimatedrives.net

Furka Pass

The Furka Pass; one of the best in the Alps and part of the ‘great three’ that create a driving nirvana loop in this part of the mountains. Travelling east to west the drive begins with a drag strip like arrow straight road the runs parallel to the railway track. Climbing steadily and providing fantastic views it reaches the top, home of the iconic Hotel Belvedere. From the top down, the pass is a pure drivers road, starting steeper with average road surface, it soon becomes smooth tarmac and fast sweeping bends with great visibility. This road will bring a smile to your face.

The Furka Pass also became immortalised in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Providing the setting for the classic Aston Martin DB5 vs. Ford Mustang convertible car chase. Just don’t forget to pack your tyre slashing extending wheel knock-offs!

Nufenenpass

The highest domestic pass in Switzerland, the Nufenenpass is snow covered all year round. The approach to the summit often involves slicing through snow plough created snow walls. The view across the Valais valley is stunning from the summit.

Just make sure you dodge the suicidal marmots on the way down!

Tremola

To me, the original, cobblestone Gotthard road is pure art. The Tremola was an important trade route and has seen many travellers come and go. Sparse and powerful, a veritable Neil Young of mountain roads, I love that feeling that the paved surface is ‘handmade’.

– Stefan Bogner, classicdriver.com

Tuesday 22nd:

Disentis to Davos

Today the theme continues as we tackle our next set of slightly lesser know Swiss passes. The roads today are slightly wider, more sweeping and faster. It’s an opportunity to stretch the legs of your car. Setting out from Disentis, we zigzag our way east, finishing up in the large town of Davos, home to the highest brewery in the world.

Route: Disentis – Davos

Passes: Lukmanier Pass, Splugen Pass, Maloja Pass, San Bernardino Pass

Travel Time: 5h 30m

Lukmanier Pass

The Lukmanier Pass is slightly underwealming, pine trees, small towns and good roads. However, there are some culinary delights on the way, taking a small diversion and heading to Ludiano you can find small “Grottas”; natural caves that house small Italian restaurants!

San Bernardino Pass

The San Bernardino Pass offers a great amount of variety, and the road is surprisingly wide on the ascent from the south, where initially it passes through several small villages. Eventually climbing up through the tree line, the road throws in a couple of hairpin bends, and you can see the A13 below. The village of San Bernardino is virtually closed in the summer, and is reached on the ascent. After the village, the terrain changes, with trees fading, and the vista becoming tundra like, the road then becomes more interesting with tight twists and turns, but with good visibility, and limited drop off areas. The road allows a flow whilst driving, and passes a landscape crafted from glaciers, whilst passing the glorious lake Moesola. The alpine section is a dream, fast, but with some hairpin bends thrown in.

The descent introduces different conditions, with the road narrowing and becoming much steeper, with tighter turns with the road following the cliff line. Eventually the road opens into rich farmland and allows you to reflect on what is a wonderful ribbon of tarmac, combining everything the keen driver wants.

drivingforpleasure.co.uk

Splügen Pass

Running between Switzerland and Italy the Splügen Pass climbs to an elevation of just under 7,000 ft. Less well known than some of the other Swiss passes it provides a challenging and fluid drive.

In amongst the obligatory hairpins the road has several straights and shallower curves allowing the pace to be increased and explore a little more of the cars performance.

At low levels the road is beautifully lined with pine trees that slowly thin out as you ascend to the summit.

 

Maloja Pass

The Maloja Pass is kept open year round. The tarmac is good quality, with a fantastic set of hairpins that climb swiftly in to the trees. One not to miss.

Wednesday 23rd:

Davos to Stelvio Pass (Trafoi)

The Stelvio Pass. This is the most iconic pass in the Alps, made famous by the Top Gear episode where the TG boys declared it “The best driving road in the world!”, that’s not something I’d agree with necessarily from a drivers perspective, but it’s certainly a ‘must drive’.

The third highest pass in the Alps, featuring two very different sides. The southern face climbs steadily, increasing in steepness and frequency of hairpins as you approach the famous summit. The northern face is one of an engineering masterpiece, an intense and relentless sequence of serpentine hairpins climbing what appears to be a sheer cliff face. It’s spectacular.

On the way to the Stelvio we tackle more iconic passes, including the Flüela Pass ensuring a feature packed day. Having discovered the lesser known Umbrail Pass last year, we climb almost to the top of the south side of the Stelvio, take a left to head down the Umbrial and drive round to spend the night on the north side of the Stelvio, ensuring we can tackle the Stelvio the best way round, north to south.

Route: Davos – Stelvio

Passes: Flüela Pass, Bernina Pass, Foscagno Pass, Stelvio Pass, Umbrail Pass

Travel Time: 4h

Thursday 24th:

Trafoi to Bolzano

The Gavia Pass. The most challenging and scary road on the EuroHoon itinerary. If’ it’s raining, we won’t attempt it. If we make it however, it will be spectacular. It’s narrow, very narrow, a single car width narrow. There are no barriers to protect you from plummeting hundreds of feet down the mountainside and walking pace is very wise!

After the tense traverse of the Gavia Pass we head east on the Tonale Pass before heading through the dense, tree lined road of the Mendel Pass in to Bolzano.

Friday 25th:

Bolzano to Stuttgart via Munich (BMW Museum)

Saturday 26th:

Stuttgart to Nürburgring

Sunday 27th:

Nürburgring to Calais

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