18th - Day 16
(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.
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.
SUMPS - HONDA LOST IN THE WOODS SPINNING CORTINAS - MUSTANG ON FIRE
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
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. top
total 573 kms
19th - Day 17
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.
DAY OF GOATS, CAMELS AND GETTING LOST
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
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
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
total 326 kms
20th - Day 18
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.
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.
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 .
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.
FOR THE FAT LADY
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
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,”
“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
total 326 kms
21st - Day 19
Rum to Aqaba (Jordan)
The final day and another attempt at yesterday's stunning test - a fitting
climax to the end of the event.
then the run to Aqaba and the holding control at the Yacht Club before
the champagne and garlands for the winners.
Awards Dinner and the poolside celebrations go on as long as you can
stay upright in our posh beachfront hotel.
ROYAL WELCOME ON THE SHORES OF THE RED SEA
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). top
Reports from TRANS
out the official website for more in depth news.*