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Bernina Gran Turismo shakes up the Alps

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Bernina Gran Turismo remains a must-see event, with historic race cars making their way up a 2300-metre high Alpine top. It’s simply one of the most beautiful roads you will ever drive.

There are few things better than being woken up by the sound of a Jaguar D Type coming down a mountain. It’s early morning on a Friday and the first participants are making their way down towards the start line at the 17th-century-built post office/hotel La Rösa. Here is where they turn and get in line.

Photo ISAW/Virgiliu Andone, Luca Danilo Orsi and Rupert Phillips

2300 metres high

In front of them now lies 5.7 kilometres (3.35 miles) of endlessly winding asphalt that will bring them to the finish line. The finish line is situated at 2300 metres above sea level, and reportedly there are some 50 corners spread across a majestic Alpine road that brings you to the top. This is Swiss motoring at its finest.

Photo ISAW/Virgiliu Andone, Luca Danilo Orsi and Rupert Phillips

Rindt Lotus F2

We are witnessing the start of the ninth edition of Bernina Gran Turismo, where some incredible cars have lined up. We are looking at an ex-Jochen Rindt Lotus 59B Formula 2 (1969) driven by Oliver Mathai, a 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SS with the compressor howling scarily above the engine. There is a 1953 Maserati A6GCS spyder, an Audi Quattro A2 (1984). And these short aggressive bursts on the throttle mean none other than the Lancia Stratos (1975) has arrived. Twofold even.

A little later, standing near the top, we can tell you that little in life will make a bigger impression than hearing that mighty V8 of the Ford Galaxie echoing brutally off the mountainsides before coming into view. It sounds like it might be able to cause an avalanche. Luckily it didn’t.

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Photo ISAW/Virgiliu Andone, Luca Danilo Orsi and Rupert Phillips

Flat-out Porsche

Bernina Gran Turismo only has one downside: the limited number of applicants the organizer can allow up the mountain. Most of the participants opted for the regularity entry, with just seventeen drivers opting for the flat-out time attack. Fastest overall was Florian Feustel who drove his 1974 Porsche 911 IROC RSR to the top in 3’12”17 on his last attempt on Sunday. Feustel comfortably beat Alex Ames in a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, who was over 14 seconds behind. Johan Bonnier landed third fastest overall in his 1990 Group N Nissan Skyline.

Photo ISAW/Virgiliu Andone, Luca Danilo Orsi and Rupert Phillips

The event was marred by the crash of Sweden’s Karl Fazer, who hit the barriers hard in his Ford RS200 with just one corner to go on Saturday. Fazer was transferred to the hospital for a check-over and was later diagnosed with a cracked vertebra, but remained otherwise unharmed.

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