THE STORY OF 1954
The average speed is being further increased in this edition: 50 km/hour applies to most special stages and the routes between them. The bonus seconds system is re-applied. This gives extra bonus points, not on the basis of winning the class but on the basis of the number of seconds difference with the next classified team. Unfortunately, this system does also encourage the formation of combines. 1200 French gendarmes are deployed along the route to make the rally run smoothly. 211 teams appear at the start. The winner of the previous edition, Count Hugo van Zuylen van Nijevelt, does not participate because he is staying in Singapore at that time. The foreigners are with 108 just in the majority and they come from England (52), Germany (18), France (10), Denmark and Belgium (5).
The approach routes are again being started from the seven known places in Europe. Each of the routes are about 500 km long. All participants then meet at the Nürburgring, from where the 2885 km long joint route, with 14 special stages, is being started. The Ring is the first special stage, in which the circuit must be driven in the opposite direction within a fixed time (16 minutes). Only twelve teams incur penalty points in this stage. The route continues through the Eifel, the Hunsrück, where the participants are confronted with fog before Trier, and the Vosges to Belfort, with 4 special legs and 3 special stages (including 2 x Ballon d’Alsace). The third test is an acceleration and brake test on the Ballon. The distance is only 300 meters, with standing start, after which the crew must stop astride at the finish: two wheels after and two wheels before the finish line. One of these stages is canceled because of the snow on the road and the poor condition of the roads after a severe winter. Then the crews drive about 365 km, with two special stages, via St. Claude to Champagnole and then to Chambéry (280 km). Four special stages and a test (the climb of the Auberge du Pin over 7 km) are included in the 800 km route via Valence and Bourg-en-Bresse to Belfort. The 5th test is again the Ballon d’Alsace, which has been closed for the rest of the traffic; the R.A.C. West installs on this trial about 3 km of telephone connection so that the officials can communicate with each other. Via a special stage of 21 km from Kautenbach to Soultzbach, the teams ride the 415 km to Luxembourg. The last 470 km go from Liège, via Eindhoven to Noordwijk. The route includes a total of 14 special legs, with a total length of 404 km. Also 5 special stages and the now famous final test on the Circuit van Zandvoort are included.
De 6e editie van de rally is zeker de zwaarste tot op dat moment. De belangrijkste reden hiervoor is de snelle opeenvolging van de speciale etappes alsmede de hoge gemiddelde snelheid van 50 km per uur en meer. Jan Flinterman valt uit in de derde speciale etappe als hij twee toeschouwers ontwijkt en tegen een boom rijdt. Na de derde speciale etappe is het duidelijk dat de strijd vooral zal gaan tussen de Belgen Pierre Stasse en Olivier Gendebien (Alfa) en de Duitse Equipe Werner Engel-Gilbert Ambrecht (Porsche). Tak-Niemöller, met Alfa Romeo, halen ook de finish niet wanneer zij tegen een rotsblok rijden dat door onduidelijke redenen op de weg terecht is gekomen. Rob Slotemaker valt uit in de Ardennen, nadat hij in een ravijn is gereden. 44 (21.5%) van de 128 equipes die in de storm aan de finish komen, blijven zonder strafpunten. Nadat de deelnemers op woensdag in Noordwijk finishen, wordt op vrijdag (Koninginnedag) in Zandvoort nog de slotproef verreden. Alle 10 klassen rijden een aparte race over 10 ronden, waarbij het circuit volgens de traditie van de Tulpenrallye in tegengestelde richting wordt gereden.
The 6th edition of the rally is certainly the toughest to date. The main reason for this is the fast succession of the special stages as well as the high average speed of 50 km per hour and more. Jan Flinterman retires in the third special stage when he dodges two spectators and rides against a tree. After the third special stage, it is clear that the fight will mainly be between the Belgians Pierre Stasse and Olivier Gendebien (Alfa Romeo) and the German Equipe Werner Engel-Gilbert Ambrecht (Porsche). Tak-Niemöller, with Alfa Romeo, also do not make it to the finish when they ride against a boulder that has ended up on the road due to unclear reasons. Rob Slotemaker retires in the Ardennes after he has been driven into a ravine. 44 (21.5%) of the 128 teams that arrive at the finish in the storm remain without penalty points. After the participants finish in Noordwijk on Wednesday, the final test takes place on Friday (Queen’s Day) in Zandvoort. All 10 classes drive a separate race over 10 laps, in which the circuit is driven in the opposite direction according to the tradition of the Tulpenrallye.
The sixth edition is won by the Belgians Stasse and Gendebien, while Sheila van Damm, mainly based on her performance at Zandvoort, wins the Coupe des Dames together with the ladies Hall and Clarke (they also become 10th in the general classification). Olivier Gendebien is not present at the festive awards ceremony; he is already on his way to Brescia to appear as a participant at the start of the Mille Miglia. A new prize this year is the Nations Trophy, for teams consisting of five crews from the same country. The Germans win this prize, and also the club team prize goes to that country.