June 6th - Day 4
to Wroclaw (Poland)
Once out of the grey industrial areas, Poland will amuse and amaze you - rolling hills and farm land, small villages untouched for 40 years, charming traditional architecture mixed with huge monolithic blocks of flats, the landmarks of the former communist regime.
Look out for the horse drawn ploughs and the tiny slow moving smoky two-stroke Trabants.
MARTIN-HURST ON THE MOVE
Having crossed the Baltic sea overnight, competitors on the Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally awoke to find themselves on the northern coast of Poland. With 170 kilometres of gravel special stages completed in Sweden, a new dimension to the rally was ushered in, with all special stages up to Istanbul set to take place on entirely tarmac surfaces.
The day offered a taste of what is to come over the coming week, with the completion of 2 of the shortest tarmac stages on the event. Sending a clear warning shot to the seemingly untouchable Joe McAndrew, it was 24 hour Nurburgring regular Nick Starkey that set the stages alight today.
He took top honours on the first stage and got within 2 seconds of winner Smokin’ Joe on the second. His blistering run today sees him close the gap on the overall 4th place Corolla of Lorimer / Brittan to just 3 seconds.
“I think we will see a big shake up in the pack in the next few days”, predicted Zimbabwe-based Graham Lorimer. “Top track drivers like Bellm and Starkey will really come into their own on these road stages and will give the leaders a proper run for their money”.
Also lapping up the event’s transition to tarmac was Keith Callanan in his grunty Holden Monaro. With a 3rd and a 6th place in today’s stages, he is now wrestling for stage positions with the V8 Capri of yesterday’s big mover, Richard Martin-Hurst.
British Peugeot 306 of Steve Blunt and Robert Duck had their best day yet. After 3 days of getting to grips with gravel stages, the pair posted their best stage result to date on the second stage, finishing just one second behind the 6th placed Fords of Martin-Hurst, Ingleby and Glover. They are in 10th place overall in the event.
The day did provide some drama for the Cortina of British pairing Andrew Pidden and Mike Cotter. The pair were overtaken by an interballistic Mercedes, and then mistakenly pulled over by the local police.
“Their diesel powered FSO pursuit car couldn’t catch the Merc, so they settled for the next thing they could find which happened to be us!” joked Pidden. $70 lighter in the wallet, they then made towards the day’s final time control. They made it on time, but with a foot of water on the floor and less a set of windscreen wipers, which flew off en route. “I hope we have a less amusing day tomorrow,” said Pidden as he retired to the comfort of a hot bath.
In the team section of the rally, interim positions at the end of the day show the classic rally cars on top. The G.P.R team of Martin-Hurst / Bellm / Ward are 13 minutes clear of Team Rapid-B, consisting of the Group N cars piloted by McAndrew / Blunt / Ryan.
“This is an interesting result,” started Event Director Nick Brittan. “Although we have a Group N car leading the event, this shows that classic machines in the right hands are still extremely quick and capable rally tools”.
Bigger shake-ups can be expected tomorrow, when the rally passes through the villages of rural Poland to Zlin in the Czech Republic. It is the biggest stage day of the rally, with 74 km of tarmac racing stages. It’s classic Eastern European rallying, with plenty of opportunity for the road racers to claw their way up through the pack. top
Day's total 521 kms
June 7th - Day 5
to Zlin (Czech Republic)
Across the border into the Czech Republic sweeping through mountain villages and early into Zlin.
The Merc dealer here has a million dollar 1937 SS Mercedes in his showroom, left in a barn after the German occupation and discovered only 15 years ago.
WARD OUT OF EVENT IN HIGH SPEED CRASH
Anthony Ward and co-driver Mark Solloway crashed out of second place in the Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally in today’s second special stage. Englishman Ward lost control of his Escort on a high speed bend and crashed into a tree.
The brunt of the impact was taken on the passenger side of the vehicle, and Welsh co-driver Solloway was rushed to Klodzko hospital by medical personnel present at the stage. Despite the severity of the impact, Solloway’s injuries are confined to a broken left leg and five broken ribs. He is currently recovering in hospital and in a stable condition.
Today was the highest stage mileage day of the event, with 70 kilometres of slick and slippery roads spread over 3 separate stages. The tricky conditions also caught out the Toyota Prius of Nik Berg and Tim Bampton, who went into a ditch near the end of the 3rd stage. Fortunately the British pairing sustained no significant injuries and will continue in the rally tomorrow.
With driver’s queuing up to have a shot at the lead, event leader Smokin’ Joe McAndrew was subjected to a different threat today. Ray Bellm stole the honours on the first stage of the day, and guided his Porsche to top 3 places on the day’s remaining stages.
“I think I went alright today,” commented Bellm as he pulled into the day’s final time control. “I just want to continue clawing my way up through the field and see how the other guys cope with the tricky bits”. Today’s performance sees him and co-driver Paul Lanzante leap frog up the leader board into 6th place overall.
Today’s wet conditions appealed to the Loch Ness V8 Monster. Scottish pairing of James and Moira Ingleby guided their Ford Mustang to a best ever result of fourth quickest on the first stage.
The Peugeot team of Steve Blunt and Rob Duck also managed a best ever result on the same stage. Now settled into the rhythm of long distance rallying, they revealed hidden potential and secured 5th place behind the Mustang.
The Corolla of Graham Lorimer and Jenny Brittan responded to yesterday’s challenge from Nick Starkey and Jim Hurman. Lorimer was second quickest in today’s final stage, and increased his buffer from overall 4th placed Starkey by 11 seconds. top
Day's total 382 kms
June 8th - Day 6
to Kosice (Slovakia)
There's a fairy tale quality about Slovakia with 14th century castles on hilltops and tiny feudal villages, this is the Eastern Europe of a bygone era. Orchards, ducks and geese in the streets and traditional farmyards with everything done by hand and horse - no tractors.
Some twisty mountain and forest roads. Then there's time to stop and tour the 150-year old famous Slivovich (plum brandy) factory and pick up a few samples.
Wonderful views over open country as the day progresses. Friendly people will welcome the event into a wonderfully traditional town square at our overnight stop.
CLASSIC AND MODERN CARS JOSTLE FOR STAGE HONOURS
Bellm, Richard Martin-Hurst and Nick Starkey fought tooth and nail today
for stage honours in what has been the most closely contested day of
the Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally.
Day's total 429 kms
|*© Reports from TRANS WORLD EVENTS 2002. Check out the official website for more in depth news.*|