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London to Sydney Marathon

5th June - 4th July 2004

Day 23 - Ayres Rock to Coober Pedy


Over the first sixty kms of racing stages around Mt Conner in the heart of the Australian outback Joe McAndrew in his Honda snatched the lead from Toyota's Jimmy McRae opening up a gap of 1m 14seconds.

Co-driver Murray Cole said, "The sandy stuff suited us and our tyres and I think our engines have more torque than the Toyotas and Joe revels in soft going."

Classic Escort man Anthony Ward was bemused by the stages, "I've never been in sandy stuff like that before. I was wheel spinning at 7,000 revs in third gear, it was very strange. Frankly I didn't know what to do. I played it safe and worked on not stopping and not getting bogged down. I think we were two minutes slower than McAndrew."

Austrian doctor Gerald Brandstetter's Escort developed a valve problem and went on to three cylinders, "So we limped through like a three-legged donkey but we made it. We know what the problem is and hopefully tonight we can repair it."

Honda man Mike Montgomery went consistently quicker than Graham Lorimer in his Toyota and stole third place from him so suddenly the Honda team is looking strong with three of their cars in the top five.

The gallant little Czech entry of Ota Kramarz in the smallest engine car in the event - the 1300cc Skoda - had transmission problems but typically managed roadside repairs and arrived last into Coober Pedy. "A shame," said Ota, "All the shops were closed so I won't be able to buy my wife an opal."

Sydney Toyota dealer Brian Hilton quietly climbing his way up the leader board into the top ten in his Corolla had nothing to report at the end of the day other than, "Just keeping out of trouble and pointing it in the right direction." Hilton is a canny competitor from way back who know that marathons are not won in a hurry and is pacing himself to the finish. more...


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