Saturday 7th November 2009
Distance Travelled: 682km
Rally Position: u/k
Location: Le Mans
Our start time for the first day of the rally was originally 08:24hrs, but a missing car and a full line-up forced the organisers to bring the times forward. Consequently we were up very early in preparation for our new start time of 07:53hrs and woke into an un-forecast dry day!
We were waved off from the line outside the front of the hotel and made our way to the first of two planned trials for the day. The first stage
was through some very slippery forest, made worse by the recent torrential rain and we were warned to take it easy. I mention this because taking it easy was taken literally by some people.... We were spaced at one minute intervals, to ensure we wouldn't catch the car in front. In my case the car in front being a Citroen DS Safari spec.
5,4,3,2,1.... you get the idea.... We were away and instantly sideways off the line, such was the level of grip or lack of it. I must say the trees always look smaller on the television! Ces shouted the instructions, which were a lot more basic than convential pace notes and I pushed as hard as I dare on day-1 of the 3,000+ mile event.
After 4 minutes into the stage, there he was, taking it easy.... The Citroen was having a lovely drive in the countryside and it wasn't even a Sunday.
Now as some of you know my Cortina is a London-to-Sydney replica and as part of that pack it carries 5 x spot-lights, plus the 2 standard headlamps. Hoping it would set his car ablaze, I flicked the switch and the early morning gloom instantly became a mid-Summers lunchtime! Did it have an effect? Did it bugger. Could I get past, nope, did he pull over? No. So we followed this individual all round the forest. Do you know I thought I saw a red squirrel but my wife assures me, it was red mist!
When we pulled-up behind him at the stage, he seemed genuinely shocked that another car was behind him. Later he enquiried, "Did I hold you up?"
and "Oh well you were still in within the time"..... More follows on this but later!
Not all the cars escaped un-damaged and this Jaguar S-Type was one of them...
From the1st stage we made our way to stage 2, which was again another forest stage but this time a lot more open and gave the ability to really push
hard. I made sure I arrived before Capt Slow in his DS and this time really nailed it. Timings to follow, but it was quick and I saw 90mph at one point,
luckily my wife didn't!
Having successfully completed both stages, it was now time to head off to Le Mans for night, or was it!?!?!
The organisers had decided what we really needed was a longer day, so once off the ferry instead of turning right for Le Mans and the hotel, we all turned
left for Belgium! Some 90mins later we arrived at the venue and stage 3 was on! This stage was all closed roads around and enormous farming complex.
It was a full-blown tarmac stage and there was no doubt, the Porsche, Lotus Elan and Corvette Stingray etc were going to shine.
Once again a strict re-start order was imposed and this meant I was going to start behind my old mate in his Citroen DS. My wife assured me that the
tarmac would really suit him and his car and that all we had to do was come in under the set time. I watched as the DS took off from the line like a
proper rally car and thought, oh well, mud and woods aint his thing.
Our turn came and we moved to the start line.... 5,4,3,2,1 and away we went.
Now some of you have met my wife and will therefore know that she actually gets car sick and I first got her to become a navigator for me by lying to her
and saying things like "No, it's nothing like on the telly, it's more of a treasure hunt"... I do remember that 10 minutes into her first 3,000kms rally
her saying "You b*stard, I f*cking hate you, you lied to me, I f*cking hate this" or some words like that. However the subsequent victory that followed,
stopped all her intitial concerns!
Anyway back to Belgium... As we screamed away from the line, the Twin-Cam hitting 7,000rpm my instructions were very slow in coming... I enquired in a
gentle and subtle manner and was advised that she was not happy reading the notes because she couldn't watch my driving which was scaring her....
A brief conversation was had and I promptly was told "Turn left here", tricky in 3rd gear and at 70mph. Anyway once I reversed back to the junction and
made the turn all was well, until "No, turn here"... This time I managed to smoke the wheels whilst reversing! As you can imagine I could see the clock
ticking away and with it any chance of a win. I was then told "Push harder", now whilst I would normally give my right-arm to hear a women uttering this
phrase I was by now fairly uptight... I did as told and pushed. As I rounded the last corner to make the time, there was he was having the time of his
life now on a lovely driving holiday in Belgium rather than Kent! It was my mate in his DS and this time on tarmac he was doing all over 20mph, looking at
the views I suppose. Imagine his surprise when the rather nasty, agressive man in the Cortina came up behind him, air-horns blasting and squeezing
through a very small gap at around 70mph.... I said to Ces "Do you think he saw me that time?"
Before the off in Belgium
Saturday night ended, very late, wet and dark in Le Mans arriving at around 9pm, we'd both had enough by the time we arrived!
Sunday 8th November
Rally Position: 1st in class, 4th overall.
Location: Burgos, Spain.
Today was simply a transit day from Le Mans to Burgos. Nothing exciting to report, except when I brake the car is all over the road! Too tired tonight, will have to fix in Ronda tomorrow.
Oh, by the way... my mate in the DS dropped me from 1st to 4th.. I've not seen him yet, but will do in the bar later! I'll let you know how it went tomorrow!