Jeremy Ellwood reflects on day 1 of #TheOpenRoadtrip with Mercedes-Benz as teams from around the world make their way up to Hoylake...

Day 1: Weds 16th July
Excited participants arrive at Mercedes-Benz World from Italy, Spain, Germany, the UK and all the way from Australia for #TheOpenRoadtrip of a lifetime up to Hoylake.

Teams of two from each nation, comprising a magazine staffer and competition prize winner, set the ball rolling with a tour of the museum at Brooklands in Surrey, learning all about the early days of the famous motoring brand right through to the present day.

Teams line up at Mercedes-Benz World ahead for day 1 of #TheOpenRoadtrip

Teams line up at Mercedes-Benz World ahead for day 1 of #TheOpenRoadtrip

Cars on display range from the very first Benz Patent Motorwagen from 1886 through to the high-powered Formula 1 cars of today and many more mouthwatering motors besides.

After the tour, it’s time for GM competition winner, Sean Wheatley, and me to take to the wheel of the GLA model we’ll be driving for the next few days and put it to the test on both the Brooklands track and off-road arena in the first of a series of international challenges hosted by Mercedes-Benz, one of the patrons of The Open Championship.

Instructor John tells us the proper racing lines, how to drive more efficiently on the track and what to look out for when we then make our way more carefully around the rocks, potholes, ruts and ridges of the off-road arena where we will be marked on our performance.

GM competition winner Sean Wheatley getting to grips with the Mercedes-Benz GLA

GM competition winner Sean Wheatley getting to grips with the Mercedes-Benz GLA

Grounding the car is frowned upon, but Sean and I both bottom out (only lightly!) at some stage.

At the end of the day, Germany, still riding the crest of a World Cup wave, take the off-road honours ahead of Australia with Team UK taking the final spot on the first-day podium.

A win for Germany in #TheOpenRoadtrip off-road challenge with the UK a respectable 3rd

A win for Germany in #TheOpenRoadtrip off-road challenge with the UK a respectable 3rd

When it’s all over, we retire for the night to the lovely Cannizaro House Hotel in Wimbledon, where photos of tennis players adorn nearly every inch of available wallspace, ready to dine in style, reflect on a great first day, and look ahead to the next day which will see us make our way into the capital for a flight on the London Eye before heading up to Silverstone for more action behind the wheel…