From a billiards world champion to world champions in rallying: The coveted...

From a billiards world champion to world champions in rallying: The coveted Peall Trophy

W. J. Peall, Peall Trophy
Billiards champion W. J. Peall and his impressive trophy; photo: press office Wales Rally GB

Whether it is the FA Cup, Ryder Cup, America’s Cup, Webb Ellis Cup or the Ashes, Britain is famous around the globe for its iconic and inspirational sporting trophies.

British motorsport, too, is has some magnificent awards. The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy with its 18-carat gold figure of Hermes has an unrivalled heritage while the gold plated, solid silver British Grand Prix Trophy is coveted by all Grand Prix drivers, not least Lewis Hamilton.

Lyndon Sims, Rupert Jones, Aston Martin DB2
1956 winners Lyndon Sims and Rupert Jones (Aston Martin DB2); photo: press office Wales Rally GB

Since the early fifties, the winners of Rally GB receive the equally resplendent Peall Trophy

By any standards, standing more than two and a half feet tall and weighing in excess of 18lbs with its mahogany base, it is an impressive trophy. And one that now bears the names of Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt after their history-making exploits in last year’s event. Evans becoming the first Welsh driver ever to win a round of the WRC.

Evans is one of only four British drivers with success on home soil. The others are Roger Clark, Colin McRae and Richard Burns. But the long-standing Peall Trophy dates back to well before the appearance of the World Rally Championship in the seventies.

The large silver-gilt classical urn-shaped trophy, topped by a royal stag’s head figurine, was produced way back in 1887 by renowned Victorian silver specialists Stephen Smith & Son in London as, by a quirk of fate, was the British Grand Prix trophy.

Originally the Billiard Association presented it as the permanent award for its ‘All In’ Billiards Championship at the competition’s inauguration in 1892

World billiard champion W. J. Peall won this first event. He never got another challenge. Thus the golden trophy became his personal property after three years.

As well as being a legend on the billiard table, Peall was also a keen early motorist. In 1901 the police near Redhill caught him speeding. The fine was the princely sum of £2 – for driving at a speed in excess of the 12mph limit.

In 1937, the Peall family donated his splendid cup to Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall. Subsequently, the Club redeployed the suitably renamed ‘Peall Trophy’ to be awarded annually to the ‘Best Performer in Royal Automobile Club International Rally’. It was first presented to Ian and Pat Appleyard, the victorious husband and wife Jaguar XK120 driving duo in 1953.

Since then, the names engraved on the base’s gold bands have included just about all the rallying greats. Among them are Erik Carlsson, Timo Mäkinen, Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist. Then came Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen, Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz. Among the newest are Petter Solberg, Sébastien Loeb and many more of the sport’s top legends.

Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt
photo: press office Wales Rally GB

This year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB entry list features three past winners – Jari-Matti Latvala, Sébastien Ogier and, of course, Elfyn Evans

“It’s an amazingly iconic trophy which every rally driver dreams of winning,” says Ben Taylor, managing director of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. “You only have to see the awe on the faces of the winners to know just how very special the Peall Trophy has become. Sébastien Ogier loves it so much he’s always trying to smuggle it home with him!”

Whoever conquers the fearsome Welsh forests to spray the victors’ champagne, next month’s podium presentation will be a highly significant occasion. The illustrious old trophy will wait on Llandudno’s seaside Promenade at the conclusion of the town’s momentous new street stage.

In the meantime, the trophy will be on display at Castle Combe’s popular Rally Day on Saturday 22 September. After that, it will visit various promotional destinations in Wales during the following week. The culmination will be a special display outside John Lewis in Chester on Saturday 29 September.