Leaving Frankfurt today, the Paris Amsterdam Rally turned west-north-west towards Spa, where it would rejoin the 1898 Paris Amsterdam race route. Every day has been memorable and this one was no exception, with four entertaining regularity sections and a stunning lunch halt at the mighty Burg Elz, one of Germany’s most astonishing medieval fortresses. Founded in the 9th Century and owned by the same family since the 12th, its walls have never been breached.
Had it ever been attacked by vintage and classic rallyists, even impeccably dressed ones such as SS Jaguar 100 crew Charles and Jaqumine Bromage, things might have been different, as our competitors rarely admit defeat. John Harrison demonstrated a characteristic never-say-die attitude first thing this morning as he set about fixing the water pump on his LaFrance, while Kate Lawson and Teresa Mathers pressed on with a horribly persistent dynamo fault in their Jaguar XK140, doubtless spurred on by a certain amount of revenge-gloating from husbands Dougie and Bill – although they too have had problems with their XK150’s gearchange (first is not reverse!). Steve and Julia Roberson also have a charging problem in their Triumph TR3, although they held on to the overall lead.
Poor Jan van Gemert was not feeling well today, so he and Marion took a shortcut to Spa in their comfy 1929 Buick. Also sounding a bit rough were Malcolm Offord and Christine Harley, who hammered the exhaust pipe of their 1971 Jaguar E-Type on the way out of the Steinberger hotel car park; Malcolm has been complaining that Christine is rubbish at navigating, so he and she swapped places this morning. After circling the hotel six times and taking an hour and half to find a way out of Frankfurt, he has been eating humble pie all day. Also slightly red-faced were 1939 Ford V8 crew Peter Thornton and Robert Maxted, who forgot to chip their Time Card at the morning’s Main Time Control.
As crews tucked into a sumptuous buffet supper at the Silva Hotel Spa Balmoral this evening, many were still buzzing after the afternoon’s entertaining track test at the Nurburgring. Countless tales of triumph and not-quite disaster included a smashed Alfasud rear light, a cone-dragging 280 SL, a pushmi-pullyu XK150, a gravel-trapped 911 and a flying MGB (whose pilots are now referred to as the Ryanair crew).
More successful were the ******* orange Corvette, which celebrated a class-beating performance with an impressive donut on the skidpan, and the MGB of Andy Actman and Jackie Quinan, who were fastest of all. Having hoisted themselves into fifth place overall, a tantalising 30 seconds behind the Porsche 356 of Michael Feichtinger and Sebastian Haberl, Jackie reluctantly took a vow of temperance this evening, hoping to sparkle all the more brightly tomorrow.
There is indeed everything to play for as the Paris Amsterdam Rally embarks on its final day, as the Robertsons’ Triumph is only eight seconds ahead of the Weirs’ Alfa. Meanwhile In the Vintage category, Talbot crew Richard Dresner and Colin Mackenzie have their eyes on the Charles Jarrott Trophy, and a 68sec lead over the Woien/Hansen Alvis. The Norwegians are slightly frustrated by this, as the car is running perfectly, but of course they know better than anyone that a momentary lapse of concentration can cost more than a minute…
Only 260km to go… Good luck, everyone!