“Turn left at the junction we’ve just passed!”

During the past few weeks, few maps have been left unturned, in our house – maps, that is, on which I can plot our BDRS Riley’s course during the Monte Carlo Rallye Classique. While it’s clearly imperative that our main driver, John, aims for safe and consistent coverage of the 1,400 miles involved, he will need crucial support if our anticipated point-to-point times are to be maintained. Our stops en route – pauses, rather than lengthy breaks – will have to be brief and we simply cannot afford to wander, if we are to reach Monte Carlo within the four days scheduled.

Somehow, we have to combine route-finding with the business of encouraging a very old open car to maintain reasonable speeds in whatever weather and road conditions prevail, filling-up with petrol before the rather small tank runs dry – and yes, filling ourselves up, also rather hurriedly, on a pretty regular basis, in order to maintain energy, warmth and concentration (our Riley will be primed with rations, liquids and foods, for each day’s driving).

But already, days before we leave John O’ Groats, the need for accurate route-finding is very important: one can use up a lot of time, and fuel and patience, searching in probably-failing light, looking for an unfamiliar junction, or a Port entrance, or an agreed overnight stop in a hardly-known area. Must do better than that.

Douglas Anderson, who is co-ordinator of our Monte Classique (and of the whole Scottish Classique and Historique arrangements) will have provided details of a suggested route, but we are free to follow our own instincts, subject, of course, to avoiding motorways, autoroutes, major toll roads, etc. Anyway, our wee Riley will bowl along traditional roads in style.

Given that we will have to locate and negotiate several hundred junctions, how will we manage to route-find, with our time limited, when we are in France, away, much of the time, from roads previously-travelled and known?

Douglas’ preparations are based upon the latest (2016 Edition) Michelin Tourist and Motoring Atlas, just published (chosen rather than the helpfully-laminated similar version, which has much less detail about minor roads – and we may need some of those, if a planned road is not available).

The famous Michelin Regional Maps (half a dozen would cover our journey through France) are based on the same comprehensive survey, but are already several years out of date. Recalling, with admiration and affection, Dennis Jenkinson’s marvellous navigation support for Stirling Moss, in the Mille Miglia of 60 years ago, working from a compilation of pages from the Atlas, to provide a continuous and conspicuous route, backed up with a 1cm:8km all-France map. This is a necessary focus, as the cramped conditions of a wind-blown Riley cockpit do not permit the use of large, flapping maps and extensive page-turning. Oh, and did we mention the“Poti”?

BDRS have come up with the latest in navigator’s toys – sorry, that should read “tools”. It’s a cable-free version, designed and made by The Basic Roamer Company, of the long-established unitary reading lamp and magnifier, a favourite of rally navigators. A controllably-bright LED does away with fankled cables and the casing shields the driver from unwanted and distracting light, at night. This smart tool will power-down when not in use, but any significant movement over the map will cause it to shine thereon, right away. Brilliant!

Of course, you may be thinking, “Navigation? Huh, it’s a breeze, nowadays – just target the Sat Nav and off you go.” I can assure you that our Riley WD Tourer and crew will not be hearing from a satellite, somewhere above. We will, of course, have mobile phones for use in emergency or breakdown, but otherwise, we’ll find our way much as Rupert Riley did in his similar Riley in the 1930s.

The only concession to modern communications has been to have a good advance look at unfamiliar junctions, using Streetview on Google Maps – after all, recce trips completed by rally crews and the formation of pace notes are commonplace, so a quick digital visit to somewhere new to me seems reasonable.

All this should see us to Monte Carlo, without arguments over the intercom!