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Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally

20th June 2002

Day 18 - Petra to Wadi Rum

WAITING FOR THE FAT LADY

A late start so you can relax and take in the sights of this amazing city carved into huge walls of rock.

Then a 15 km tarmac hillclimb through an amazing rocky landscape (if you've got time to look!) of huge jelly mould shapes of what was once liquid volcanic sandstone and granite.

And then a sensational section. A mind blowing scenic run through a breath-taking canyon. Starts on tar goes to gravel and sand. A truly amazing and challenging road before heading for Wadi Rum .

Wadi Rum is famous as the desert home of Lawrence of Arabia where we spend the night in a Bedouin tented encampment created specially for us with all the traditional food and belly dancers. A real night to remember. 

Dateline Wadi Rum This report comes from the desert heartland made legend by Lawrence of Arabia. The surviving competitors are clustered in a traditional Bedouin encampment. There’s an eerie silence about the everlasting sandscape. Where we are is cradled by huge rock formations eroded by desert winds which have carved them into strange shaped patterns of bulges and ledges. Look hard and you can see faces of animals or people in these edifices which stand thousands of feet high throwing long shadows into the endless desert.

Dinner this evening is lamb baked in a 3 metre deep stone well served in the Bedouin style with traditional music and singing. A one of a kind experience. And this report comes out of Lawrence’s hideaway courtesy of a satellite phone link.

The first stage today was the 8 km hill-climb out of the ancient city of Petra. Thousands of spectators cheered the cars away and it was Joe McAndrew who continued to set the pace while the V8s of Richard Martin-Hurst and Keith Callinan tied for second place just five seconds in arrears.

The battle between the Toyota of Graham Lorimer and Steve Blunt’s Peugeot continued un-abated with Lorimer coming out ahead to consolidate his over-all third place.

The 22 km Canyon stage was a stunning setting with distant views and the sort of fresh air drops where those who went over the edge would be wearing unfashionable clothes by the time they reached the bottom.

Nik Berg’s little hybrid Toyota Prius did 11th best time for it best showing of the event so far. “They’ll never believe this back in Japan,” said Berg.
“This stage had everything – tarmac at the begining, the gravel, then sand and more lumpy gravel. Not what they designed it to do I’m sure, but it handled it really well.”

Tomorrow is the final day of the 20-day event and the survivors will face another demanding 20 km mountain stage before they descend to the shores of the Red Sea in Aqaba.

The final stage has been named “The Fat Lady.” Show biz legend with the old American burlesque shows was “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.” So it will be on this marathon epic tomorrow.
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