Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally

10th June 2004

Day 8 - Matrafured to Sibiu (Romania)


Some great roads for the Regularities, rising and falling on narrow forest roads, the second one with barely 500 metres of straight line anywhere.

A super fast run through good looking country to the Romanian border. And now something totally different. For three hours you've got 3rd world Eastern Europe with poverty and lumpy roads.

It's a country of churches with superb spires and steeples - no two the same. When you see the Fragas mountains tomorrow you'll realise that the lumpy three hours was worth doing.

There was high drama in the first half hour of the event this morning. An early morning mist hung over the twisty 19 km damp tree-lined Hungarian tarmac stage. On a downhill section with the wet surface made even more slippery by a film of diesel from the trucks which normally use this road, three of the leading cars fell victim to the ice rink-like surface.

First on the scene was event leader Joe McAndrew who swooped over the crest and performed a neat 180 degree turn on the treacherous surface travelling backwards for 50 metres before flick turning his Honda to face the right direction miraculously avoiding the guard railed bend and trees. He still made fastest time over the stage.

Then charging Nick Starkey in his Astra, intent on making up time, lost the lot wiping his car along the guard rail and tipped it 20 feet down a bank into a ditch.

Co-driver Jim Hurman clambered up the bank to wave down Graham Lorimer in his 3rd place Toyota warning him of the hazard. Lorimer followed Starkey’s path along the guardrail, similarly out of control, with the damaged end of the guardrail wiping the whole rear wheel and suspension off his Toyota.

“Nothing I could do about it,” said Lorimer. “The car was behaving like a drunken ice skater.” The 3-wheeled Toyota was last seen on the back of a truck heading towards Budapest and the workshop of Janos Balazs – a Hungarian competitor on the London-Sydney Marathon – and there were high hopes that the damaged rear suspension could be repaired. 

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