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London to Sydney Marathon

5th June - 4th July 2004

Day 14 - Cochin to Munnar (India)


A new Continent, new sounds, new smells, new experiences. After a rest day of fettling cars for some and sightseeing for others competitors were treated to a most spectacular morning start.

Three magnificent elephants in full ceremonial kit, a traditional band in costume with their unique trumpets and a dozen sari-clad maidens festooning the drivers with garlands and thousands of eager spectators all keen to get close enough to touch the cars. It was Bollywood meets rallying on full volume.

Today's stages were through tea plantations 7,000 feet above sea level. Narrow, twisty and full of tight bends and hairpins. Recent monsoons produced small potholes in the bumpy tarmac so it was the precision drivers in small cars that fared best.

Joe McAndrew rediscovered his form and speed and kept his Honda more or less in the middle of the road to record fastest time over the first stage, 23 seconds ahead of leader Jimmy McRae.

McRae had elected to run on near smooth tarmac tyres, "Not the best choice," he said. "We'd have done better on a chunky gravel tyre."

Graham Lorimer spent the previous day on his back recovering from a dose of Delhi Belly and looked like a grey ghost behind the wheel of his Toyota and recorded what he described as "not a very enthusiastic time". But it was good enough to keep him in third place.

Sadly the second stage had to be cancelled because the Spitfire Club that run the stages India for the event failed to position the required ambulance, doctor and recovery truck at the stage start. All the people and equipment were in position 5 kms away in totally the wrong place. Club Chairman Mr Gopinath admitted that it was an India-style cock-up.

Competitors were thrilled with their first day in India. "TV man David Winstanley in his MG who also has film crew in tow making programmes for Sky TV in the UK said, "Amazing pictures today, like nothing we've ever shot before."

Gordon Smith and George Shepheard had a low speed 'off' into a ditch in their hefty V8 Holden Monaro. Co-driver George broke a finger and Gordon has withdrawn the damaged car from event. George will fly home. "Sad because I was looking forward to my second London-Sydney finish," said George who ran in the original 1968 event. more...

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