There was excitement from the get-go this morning – and that’s before the crews had even started their engines. On their way along the start of the day’s route check, designer Fred Bent and Clerk of the Course Kim Bannister encountered a sudden road closure that required quite a re-route. To allow for this, the competitors got an extra 30mins to enjoy the hotel and views of Lourdes.
Then, in what some crews might call karma, the course car broke down and being a modern car needs plugging into a computer to fix it. Rally Director Liz Wenman came to the rescue in her vehicle and became Fred’s driver for the day so we could get back up and running.
Meanwhile, the cars finally got underway and on to the first regularity of the day that started the ascent up the mountain and towards the first in a number of Cols that would lead us across into Spain for the evening.
The Col du Tourmalet is one of the most famous climbs in the country for being part of the Tour de France route and there were plenty of cyclists out in force today – but they were way outnumbered by the cows, sheep, goats and horses we saw on the route.
Most of the cars made it up the first Col to the coffee halt, with only Cars 10 and 21 deciding their cars could not face the climb. From then on its was a day of ups and downs as we journeyed up the mountain passes, through stunning little villages and down the switchbacks of the mountains so get to tonight’s destination.
Just after the coffee halt, Car 18, the Daimler of Keith and Sylvia Johnson, suffered a burst water pipe. Luckily, Karim and David were on hand in the service truck Zulu to help get them started again. However, this proved to be the first of many issues for the car today which didn’t arrive back to the hotel until late this evening. As usual though, Keith and Sylvia remained in good spirits and see it all as part of the rallying experience.
The second regularity took the crews over Col du Soulor to Col D’Aubisque and to the stunning mountainous views which included the stunning valley below. The Cols slowed many down so while they had got plenty of time for lunch in theory, the practical was a different story. Car 4 navigator Jeff Robinson was seen hurrying from lunch carrying several slices of apple tart although driver David Wenman didn’t see any of it.
There was another regularity this afternoon with Fred Bent making impromptu Rally Info boards from local trees, while Liz practiced her French making bright orange signs to warn the oncoming traffic that the rally was coming through – although it was a group of elderly bikers that were on the road rather than other vehicles.
Then it was time to say a brief Au revoir to France and Hola to Spain as we finished our journey up and over the Pyrenees. The scenery was stunning and the roads amazing with barely any traffic…
Rally Round’s longest serving truck X-ray got held up in traffic today as a whole herd of sheep were ushered down the mountain, leaving Richard and Gary with nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait.
The cars stopped to take pictures as we arrived into Spain and the spirit in camp is high tonight as the finish line draws near. Barry and Roma Weir still lead overall with Chris and Judy Beighton and Peter Trotter and Celia Dijvanovic are in joint second place.
In the vintage class, David Wenman and Jeff Robinson of Car 4 slipped down the table after leading the whole way. Novices Keith Hickling and Rebecca Butler now are in first place in the MG SA Tourer with Ed Braclik and Tim Joslyn in the Lagonda in second place.
The Team Competition is also a close call with only 30 points separating the leaders…
But there’s still tomorrow’s final fling to get to before we arrive into Biarritz and the end of another fantastic event.