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London to Sydney Marathon

5th June - 4th July 2004

Day 26 -Windorah to Roma

McANDREW EXTENDS LEAD - OUTBACK EATS CARS

Today was the second longest day of the rally with two of the longest and toughest stages, over 100 kms of rough rugged running.

McAndrew was quickest over the first with Lorimer in second place. But on the second one he was bettered by team mate Mike Montgomery who had been shaping up to have a go at him for several days. And Mike did it by exactly one minute elevating himself into second place overall.

Jimmy McRae was a non-runner today, his head gasket having blown the previous day so he collected maximum penalties for today's two missed stages. Whether he can get the Toyota repaired for tomorrow looks doubtful. Today's penalties drop him from a challenging second place to a lowly 11th.

The lame and the limping. The outback is beginning to take its toll of the rally cars. Veteran Lloyd Hughes and Hugh Hodgkinson had a chapter of related disasters last night. Hugh was being towed in the Porsche when he ran over the towrope, which tore out the rear brakes. The service vehicle with a trailer on the back them went off the road damaging the trailer and holing the sump of the Land Cruiser. They were stranded without one working vehicle but managed to find the homestead of the property they were on and make use of the owners phone.

Richard Mart Hurst in the Capri suffered gearbox problems which were being worked on until late in the night at Windorah and he left in the morning hopeful that the cure had worked. Sadly not. He was last seen stopped midway to Roma.

The Escort of van Haaren and Rhodius in the Clowes Cup had a huge whoopsie on the Birdsville Track catching its wheels in the mud tracks of a road train and went into what Fredrick van Haaren described as, "a two and half somersault." They were unhurt but the window-less Escort was a sadly distorted little body. Uncomfortable to drive in, but maybe possible.

The classic MGB in the Clowes was having a hard time on the Birdsville and was last see shaping up to spend the night at the famous pub and set out again in daylight.

Meanwhile Aussies with good knowledge of the outback roads made gentle progress. Peter Lockhart in the 2-litre Proton - a veteran of 17 Australia Safaris, said "the dust was so bad in some places I was having to stop and wait for some visibility."

Brian Hilton in his Toyota is another wily outback veteran. "It's all about hurrying slowly over these roads." Garry Leeson in his V8 Falcon and Peter Cochrane in his Mustang are biding their time in 7th and 9th places. more...

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