There are no prizes for coming first, and the main award one can recieve is making every checkpoint.  The highest honor that can be bestowed upon an entrant is the “Spirit of Gumball” award which has gone to  Alex Roy multiple times  and won in 03. Their blue BMW M5 was converted into a full spec German police car with POLIZIE on the side, flashing lights and the pair wearing an array of uniforms each day. They were responsible for pulling over nearly as many Gumballers as the real cops as they sought to make headway and reach the check points first, no mean feat as the tally in Miami was reported to be over 500 speeding tickets collected mostly by the large European contingent – the Koenigsegg accounting for five in Texas alone where it reached a claimed 242mph! Roy was understandably excited after accepting his award “this is the greatest event I’ve ever done, I intend to do one every year until I die” he remarked. Special awards also went to two a pair of BMW M3 drivers. Wes Bruce, who drove half the way alone, navigating and firing off roman candles all with only one arm and one leg, and Steve Compton, paralyzed from the waist down and driving with special hand controls. The Evo, with its 280bhp turbo charged four cylinders was a perfect companion. Many of the Ferrari drivers commented that it would make an ideal daily sports car. Fast, comfortable and very stable even at its maximum. Having tested the Subaru Impreza, I would take the Evo every time for its sheer handling brilliance. All it needs badly is a 6th ratio for touring. The Ferrari’s ran faultlessly throughout. And contrary to popular belief it was in fact the cars from Stuttgart that proved most fragile, as many suffered both mechanical and electrical break downs.

Oo-la-la: In Paris.
Oo-la-la: In Paris.

Wacky racer John Docherty was awarded the Spirit of the Gumball in 2004 after completing a madcap 3,000-mile journey across Europe in his £600 Citron 2CV.

John, 39, a team leader at Redhill-based recruitment company CBSbutler, took part in the Gumball Rally alongside high-performance cars such as Lamborginis, Ferraris and Porsches and was honoured after he and his co-driver Gary Lutke were voted to encapsulate what the rally was all about.

Taking six days to complete the course, the pair often stopped their 2CV tribute to Dukes of Hazard car, the Dodge Charger complete with the same air-horn to help fellow ralliers who had broken down.

This generous spirit earned them their trophy, which they were awarded in Cannes on Monday, May 10.

John said: "There were four awards and we just hung around to watch the winners and we couldn't believe it when we won. It went mad from there, we were interviewed by MTV, Vanity Fair and Extreme Sports, but the whole evening was amazing and we partied to five or six in the morning."

John and Gary reckoned their red runabout, with a top speed of 60mph, was an advantage because the 180mph sports cars were shooting past junctions.

John said: "Our superb navigational skills were probably the reason why we completed the course, but we had an advantage as we drove so slowly we could see the road signs, the fast cars were missing the junctions.

"The Gumball Rally is not a race, it's just a rally all about the taking part and having fun. If we did it in a normal car it would have been easier to do but what's the fun in that?

"We liked the idea the car was a homage to the Dukes of Hazard's Dodge Charger."

Living on food from petrol stations, the madcap pair from Crawley took six days to complete the course breaking down only twice. And they were applauded for their generosity in helping other cars which had come to a halt.

And in turn they were rescued by a chef in France also driving a Citron 2CV.

The first leg of the rally started in Paris driving south through Spain to a check point at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium, and finishing in Marbaya on the Spanish south coast. They then caught a ferry to Morocco, where the second leg began.

The final leg saw them get a ferry to Spain then drive to Cannes in time for the end-of-race party at the Cannes Film Festival where they were presented with their award.

Other memorable moments included meeting supermodel Jodie Kidd, former boxer Chris Eubank and his wife Karron and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

John said: "We raised £600 for the Rainbow Trust in Leatherhead and left with a million pounds worth of laughter and memories."


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