The pressure was on the crews from the outset today as, on departure from the hotel, they were faced with busier than usual rush hour traffic.
Car 31, the Maserati Indy had a problem with the wipers at hotel and then got lost heading out of Chermont-Ferrand. Then when Ralph and Sabine got to the steep hills, they found the hand brake had broken so were in danger of frying the clutch so spent the day nursing the car from halt to halt.
The Johnson’s Daimler, Car 14, went to get a tyre fix before departing and returned over two-hours late which meant Keith and Sylvia spent the whole day at the back of the pack. However, in true rally spirit, they still did the entire route for the day and ended up arriving back at the hotel as the sky became dark. At least they got to see the beautiful sunset.
Car 19 missed the traffic completely by simply staying in bed as Mike and Toby Chilman mistakenly set the alarm for 8.30am and were seen running out of the hotel to catch up as they should have left before then.
The Hayes’ Triumph is being nursed by the mechanics after they fabricated a makeshift wiring loom. The alternator is on its last legs so while David drives the car with one battery running, the sweep crew is not far behind with a second on charge.
This traffic caused all to be delayed and on the hunt to get back those precious minutes. The first regularity offered that to some while others struggled to make it up the steep inclines as they drove through the Volcanos National Park.
By the time they got to this morning’s coffee halt, the crews were desperate to be within the 30-minute free penalty zone but only a handful made it. This would make tonight’s results interesting.
Andrew Wenman in the Escort, Car 28, tried to use his internal connections to go back in time at the morning’s out control in order to help his position but the marshals were having none of it. In fact, he ended up having a minute added while he pleaded his case. So much for friends in high places…
Adrian and Alison Martin in car 10, the 1948 Jaguar MkIV, decided the hills were too much for the car so had to retreat to a flatter route. They also discovered an oil leak, which the mechanics would look at back at the hotel.
David and Natasha Royds in Car 1, the big old Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, wouldn’t let the hills and hairpins beat them, resorting to a three-point-turn in the tightest places. No wonder he was thrilled to see this afternoon’s rest stop, arriving arms aloft!
This afternoon’s coffee halt was also the location for Rally Round’s inaugural global boules tournament. With driver and navigator having three shots on target each to score points. Extra marks were given for style and effort. The crews were as competitive as ever, but it was the Chilman’s who were revealed as the winners – maybe it was that extra hour in bed that did it. Jeff Robinson of Car 4 also received a prize for the most style and effort – not something he’s usually winning according to driver David Wenman.
Not only was the route relentless today but also the heat. The area, along with those we’ve enjoyed over the past few days are in the midst of a drought with farmers doing what they can to feed their crops while they begin the harvest process.
Last into the coffee halt was Car 28, Andrew and Tom in the Ford Escort. Their coil had overheated after the first part of the morning. The sweeps had a spare and fitted it for them. But just as they made the lunch stop, their Monit stopped working and so needed assistance again.
From the Boules Tournament, it was into the Dordogne Gorge where the landscape and scenery were stunning. Crews drove through a tunnel that was in the side of the mountain before heading across a very narrow metal bridge into a stunning village along the river’s edge.
Through the forest and climbing into the hills, they stumbled on what is billed as France’s more beautiful town and we could believe it. With incredible views of the church, old stone buildings, the river, mountain face and stunning blue sky, the length of the day didn’t seem so bad…
Tonight’s hotel is the Abbay des Capucins Hotel and Spa, which is a converted monastery in Montauban. Crews enjoyed a delicious dinner whilst sharing their stories and discussing the next event for the newly formed Boules team.
As for the leader board, Barry and Roma Weir in the Alfa Romeo Sprint have kept hold of their lead but Chris and Judy Beighton in the Mustang are back in the running in second. Third is now Peter Trotter and Celia Djivanovic in the Mercedes 230SL. David Wenman and Jeff Robinson still lead the vintage class.
Tomorrow, we go into the Pyrenees so another day of reaching new heights…