With more than 50 Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini supercars in its massed ranks, the Gumball 3000 Rally, an action-backed three legged event that will take competitors right around the world, kicked off in Pall Mall, Central London yesterday afternoon.

This years event has now seen the initial dash from London on Sunday afternoon which took the cars through through the Eurotunnel and on into Belgium to a midnight checkpoint at the historic Chateau de Beloeil. Then it was an overnight drive to Vienna where they arrived late this morning. Carrying on across Europe with crews are now arriving in Budapest. Tomorrow they will be heading for the Serbian capital city Belgrade before the cars are then airlifted to Asia for a second leg which takes them through the rainforest from Phuket to Bangkok, and finally on another flight to the West Cost of the US for a route that will take them from Utah to Las Vegas, and the finally to a finish line in Beverley Hills. En route the competitors will stay in 5-star hotels, attend nightly lavish parties, and wind up finally at the famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

The eighth edition of Gumball 3000 Rally, which is inspired by the classic 1976 Burt Reynolds road movie Cannonball Run started at Pall Mall on Sunday, the cars flagged away by Maserati-driving supermodel Jodie Kidd who took part last year, and Welsh rap stars Goldie Lookin' Chain. Among the 120 starters in London yesterday were 28 Ferraris and 17 Lamborghinis. Italian sportscars to catch the eye included a 'Metropolitan Police' liveried Lamborghini Gallardo, several lurid-coloured Murciélagos, a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Enzo supercar and a Maserati MC12.

The entry list includes pop star Pink with her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, driving a Bentley, Jackass's Ryan Dunn, MTV's Bam Margera, skateboarder Tony Hawk, sports star Mike Vallely and motocross star Travis Pastrana - reports the London Evening Standard. They will be vying for prizes in categories such as "most stylish," "most bonkers" and "best Gumball spirit". In Thailand they will be treated to an official government reception while on the final leg of the rally, the drivers will stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas where they will be treated to an exclusive performance by rapper Snoop Dogg - as long as he is able to get there following his arrest after he and his minders went on the rampage at Heathrow airport on Wednesday. The cars will then take the chequered flag in Rodeo Drive in LA and will celebrate at a closing party hosted by Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion on Sunday 7 May.

The rally, which has branched out into a lifestyle brand producing fashion lines, a record label, film and publishing companies, started in 1999 and last year three million people took to the streets in 13 countries to watch it, adds the LES. Organiser Maximillion Cooper said: "Organising the rally takes just over a year and there are so many exciting elements to it.

8th Gumball 3000 Rally - Itinerary

Leg 1 Europe (1,000 miles): Saturday 29th April: It all kicked off with the Premiere of the “Aiya” boys Gumball film called ‘Drivin’ Me Crazy’ on Saturday 29th April in Central London, followed by a party with ‘Goldie Lookin Chain’ performing along with guest celebrity DJs. Sunday 30th April: This is the start day! Cars will park on “display” in Gumballs own “pit-lane” on Pall Mall (London W1, between Trafalgar Square and St. James Palace) between 1-4 PM, and the flag will drop between 4-6 PM, sending drivers en route to a Midnight checkpoint in Belgium via the Eurotunnel at Chateau de Beloeil, home to the Princes de Ligne.

2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - Ferrari Enzo
2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO

The competitors of the Gumball 3000 Rally, including a Ferrari Enzo and Metropolitan Police-liveried Lamborghini Gallardo, lined up in a special 'pit lane' in Central London yesterday afternoon before setting off towards the Eurotunel. Photos: Ermiyas Mekonnen.

2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO
2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - LAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGO
2006 Gumball 3000 Rally - LAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGO

The first cars arriving in Vienna late this morning after an overnight drive across Europe from London had taken the crews to Austria via a midnight rally checkpoint at a historic Châteaux in Belgium. Photos: Gumball Rally 3000.

Monday 1st May:
After driving through the night they’ll be a breakfast checkpoint in Austria will be in Vienna between 6 - 10 AM at the Kursalon (centrally located with easy accessibility (U4 subway) in Vienna’s beautiful inner-city park on Johannesgasse), after which cars drive to Budapest, arriving between Midday - 4PM at the “Chain Bridge.” We want everyone in Hungary to come to see us arrive, they say.  Tuesday 2nd May: Lunch checkpoint in Belgrade, Serbia between 11AM - 1PM at the City Hall!

Leg 2 Asia (1000 miles): Wednesday 3rd May: The Gumballers will be staying in the Amanpuri resort in Phuket after arriving from Belgrade at May 3rd. They will spend the day and night in the beautiful Amanpuri resort. Thursday 4th May:  Gumballers drive from Phuket to Bangkok through the rainforest to the Asian ‘finish’ line at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok between 7-10PM.

Leg 3 USA (1000 miles): Friday 5th May: After flying to the US, Gumballers get to attend the red carpet Premiere of Mission Impossible 3 at the Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah. Saturday 6th May: After collecting their cars from SLC Airport, all 120 amazing vehicles will ‘parade’ to downtown SLC to the Utah Jazz home at the Delta Centre between 10-11AM. Then they’re all driving to the new race track outside SLC called ‘Miller Motorsports Park’ where they will be putting on a ‘drift racing’ display. Then its to Las Vegas to the Hard Rock Hotel that evening where the cars will arrive between 5-8PM. That night hip hop legend ‘Snoop Dogg’ will be doing an “exclusive” Gumball performance at ‘The Joint’ inside the Hard Rock. Sunday 7th May: After checking out Death Valley, the Gumballers will cross the finish line on the famous ‘Rodeo Drive’ in Beverly Hills at approximately 4PM. Rodeo Drive will be closed for the finish, where cars will then be parked on display until 7PM before parading to the Beverly Hilton Hotel. That night Gumballers will party with playmates at the famous Playboy Mansion where DJ AM, Blink 182’s Travis Barker and porn star Ron Jeremy will mix the tunes for the nights party. Who will win the coveted ‘Spirit of the Gumball Trophy’ this year?

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THE CONCORSO D'ELEANZA Villa d'Este has the world’s longest and finest tradition of showcasing exclusive and valuable cars that set the standards of automotive history during their eras, and this year's event proved to be no different

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