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Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally

June 18th - Day 16

Damascus (Syria) to Amman (Jordan)
A fast run to the border and into Jordan. Different, brighter and busier and wealthier with a Regularity in the only forest in Jordan.

And here is something completely novel! Check into our hotel and come out in the cool of the evening to do two more tests in the middle of Amman, the nation's capital. Two runs in the stadium 5,000 spectators there to cheer you on. 


Two runs over the 10 km forest stage in Jordan produced high dramas.
Event leader Joe McAndrew was late booking into the control collecting a 2 minute penalty and then took a wrong turn and went 2 km off route incurring a stage maximum. He retains the event lead but his errors have reduced his lead from eleven and a half minutes to 6m 41secs.

James Inglebey’s Mustang caught fire on the start line. Other competitors in the line-up used seven fire extinguishers to put out the fierce under-bonnet flames. James is busy hoping to replace burnt-out wiring in time for the morning re-start.

The first run over the stage was won by the 1600cc Toyota of Graham Lorimer and Jenny Brittan giving them their first stage win of the event.
“It was a lumpy wheel-spinning gravel stage, a bit reminiscent of Africa which is where I do most of my rallying these days so I felt quite at home," said a smiling Lorimer, well pleased with his efforts.

The second run was won by the monster V8 Monaro of Keith and Mary-Ann Callinan – two cars at totally different ends of the power and size spectrum.

Andy Pidden and Mike Cotter in their Cortina executed a neat 180 degree spin and wound up stalled and facing in the wrong direction. Mike jumped out and waved down the oncoming car. Unable to restart the engine they push started it in reverse and ran backwards until they found space to turn on the narrow tree-lined stage.

Peter Swire in his Astra, unable to find traction off the line stalled 50 metres into the stage and had to be towed to safety. “Our first gear ratio is far too high and it just won’t do the right thing on uphill gravel starts,”said a still smiling Swire. “Are the desert stage tomorrow all on the flat ?.

Peter Cochrane’s co-driver Richard Anderson described the Mustang’s handling through this tight stage as, “a bit like trying to change the direction of a lead-tipped arrow.”

Steve Blunt lost his way in a cloud of his own dust in a half spin and clobbered a rock that put a hole in his sump. They made it to the end of the stage where their mechanics quickly tipped the car onto two wheels, servicing it Laurel and Hardy style, to get at the sump and plugged the hole with epoxy 2-pack and sent it into the second stage of the day. The repair worked and they posted 4th fastest time to secure their fourth place on the leader board.

The computer in Nik Berg’s little Prius took control when the car was wheel spinning in a rut and the message it sent to the engine was something like ….I don’t like this, I don’t want to play any more.
So co-driver Tim Bampton got out and pushed while the Volvo of Tom Hayes and Andy Vann overtook them.

So McAndrew still leads with Richard Martin-Hurst in second and Graham Lorimer has vaulted up into third place.

Tomorrow competitors face their first true desert stages – something none of them have experienced before – so they will be out there playing Lawrence of Arabia on wheels, worrying about wheelspin and Wadis.

Day's total 573 kms

June 19th - Day 17

Amman to Petra
Two Regularities in the desert, short but demanding and tough. Then a run along the famous Kings Highway over the roof of Jordan stunning views as the road wanders and weaves through tiny mountain towns and villages. Not a long day so we get in early and catch the famous rose red sunset from the balcony of our hotel overlooking the jagged mountain range and strange spooky rock formations which start right in the grounds of the hotel. 


Today’s two traditional desert stages saw event leader Joe McAndrew on the charge making up time he lost in yesterday’s penalties. He blitzed the first stage by 24 second from an on form Peter Hall in his lime green Escort.

In the second stage he was fastest again with Keith Callinan in the awesome sounding V8 Monaro shattering the desert silence 27 seconds in arrears.

The great thing about the desert is there are no trees to hit and no banks to slide down. But crests, undulations and wind erosions are traps for the unwary. But today there were other things that caught out desert virgins.

Andy Pidden in his Cortina, fed up with his car filling up with rainwater in Poland, had removed the rubber grommets in the floor to let the water drain out. And forgotten to replace them! “Within 500 metres the car was full of talcum-like dust and Mike Cotter couldn’t see to read the Road Book. It was a bit spooky, driving blind until we opened the windows the let the dust storm out,” said Pidden looking for all the world like General Rommel, the Desert Fox.

Peter Hall, in his Escort, had a huge incident crossing a railway line just before the finish line. He took off and then nose dived which removed the front bumper and deranged the steering eventually crossing the line in a cloud of dust to post second fastest time over the stage. It was a real Indiana Jones style finish. Co-driver Mary needed some deep heat liniment and a hot bath. The car needs some serious spanner work.

Tom Ryan in his Proton was making good time along the stage until a herdsman in a pick-up with goats in the back decided to appear from nowhere and joined rally route. “He had no idea that today this was a stage and he didn’t know I was behind him. Luckily it was only a few hundred metres to the finish so we didn’t lose more than a few seconds,” said a bemused Tom.

It’s unlikely that any of his London motor club mates will be able to better that for a ‘why I dropped five seconds on a stage’ excuse.

Nick Starkey in his Astra, probably the only competitor with desert stage experience – he ran in the Middle East Championship some years ago – was ironically the only driver to get lost on the stage. He managed to wrong slot and came out ahead of the car that started in front of him without passing him gaining several minutes in the process! For this indiscretion he collected the stage maximum as a penalty.

Lennox McNeeley in the Canadian Mustang with his alternator rebuilt and repaired by a local enthusiast appeared at the stage having mislaid his instructions. Officials gave him a revised start time after the tiny Toyota Prius Hybrid, part petrol power - part electric. “It gave Michael Greenwood something to aim at up ahead and we were able to follow his dust cloud.”

Tomorrow competitors tackle the famous tarmac hill climb out of the city of Petra, famous because the late King Hussein of Jordan once held the record over it.

Then comes the daunting 20 km Canyon stage before they spend the night, Bedouin-style enjoying traditional food, music and sleeping under canvas in the eerie silence of Lawrence of Arabia’s desert hideaway at Wadi Rum.

Day's total 326 kms

June 20th - Day 18

Petra to Wadi Rum
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. top

Day's total 326 kms

June 21st - Day 19

Wadi Rum to Aqaba (Jordan)
The final day and another attempt at yesterday's stunning test - a fitting climax to the end of the event.

And then the run to Aqaba and the holding control at the Yacht Club before the champagne and garlands for the winners.

The Awards Dinner and the poolside celebrations go on as long as you can stay upright in our posh beachfront hotel.


Never has the sea been such a welcome sight for the drivers of 21 cars. The surviving cars and crews that had spent the night in the desert swooped down from their final mountain stage to the welcome sight of the sparkling blue Red Sea.

The Midnight Sun to Red Sea rally, after 20 harrowing days and 8,000 gruelling kms had reached its final destination. Such was the elation that several of the crews leaped in fully clothed for a soggy celebration of their achievement.

HRH Prince Faisal of Jordan, himself a motor sport enthusiast, flagged in the 21 survivors shaking every one by the hand and presenting them with an engraved Finishers Award.

Kiwis Joe McAndrew and Murray Cole who had lead all the way from the first stage in Sweden in their Honda Integra crossed the finish line with a 10 minute lead over the classic V8 Capri Perana of Richard Martin-Hurst and Tony Devantier. Both of them enjoyed trouble free runs.

Graham Lorimer and Jenny Brittan in their Toyota Corolla were third after a Lazerus style come-back where they came close to retiring with rear suspension torn off their car in an accident in the Czech Republic. But a hasty rebuild and drive though the night into Romania saw them arrive at the start line the following morning just in time to take their start. Their third place award was a fitting reward for their 30 hours without sleep.

Caution had been the byword for the competitors over the final 21 km craggy mountain stage. But not for Mark Bowie who trailed Peter Hall by 31 seconds and pressed on hard to turn that deficit into a 9 second advantage and jumped from 10th to 9th place overall. The stage, named The Fat Lady, claimed no victims.

The battle between the Classics and the modern show room GpN cars was resolved with victory for the Honda and two Classics in the top five.

Joe McAndrew’s performance was outstanding – he won 24 of the 40 stages and was in the top three 34 times. Other stages winner were Ray Bellm (4), Keith Callinan (4), Richard Martin-Hurst (2), Nick Starkey (2) and Graham Lorimer (1).

Total 225 Kms
*© Reports from TRANS WORLD EVENTS 2002. Check out the official website for more in depth news.*
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