To say it had been cold overnight was an understatement. Opinions on the temperature went from -8 to as low as -20 and it hadn’t shown much signs of improvement by the time the sun came up.
Hand warmers, hot water bottles, wearing every item of clothing, the crews had done everything they could to keep warm and some even managed a decent night’s sleep even though the tents were as iced over as the bottles of water being kept inside them.
To depart from the camp, there were two shallow river crossings to contend with first, which most managed with ease. However, Car 2 – the Bentley Super Sport of David and Julia Little found its brakes froze andbroke the shock absorber mounting and axel retaining bolt in the process. The brakes were freed, and both parts were replaced by sweeps Gary Pickard and Gary Oliver before the car was on its way.
Car 11 (or Buttercup as she is now known on the rally) the Rolls Royce of James Hall-Smith and Ed Talbot also suffered a similar fate and headed into Yagra to have a broken rear spring welded.
Yagra was soon doing swift business as crews hungered for fuel; The Lawson’s Jaguar XK150, Car 17, having a new fuel pump and filter fitted; while Car 4 – the Porsche 911 of David Royds and Sam Gill had a puncture repaired.
Then it was up a few passes and into open lands where big herds of sheep, goats and cattle were roaming along with wild asses, with many dead animals spotted along the route – showing how dry the land is and how sparse food is for them.
On these wide-open spaces, the crews could choose the best track available to reach their way point, which included terrain that was a mix of sand one minute and snow the next.
The RPS service truck got stuck in the sand, with Gary Oliver at the wheel as Gary Pickard hastened to add, and had to be rescued by Doctor John Llewellyn in the medic vehicle. The flatbed truck also moving the Haslam’s Jaguar also found itself ‘beached’ and had to get a JCB digger that was working nearby to rescue it from the sand.
From Yagra, with the Indian and Nepal mountains to guide them, the crews suddenly found themselves back on smooth tarmac roads and after a climb over some low mountains, they dropped down into the Indus River.
Rudi and Helga Friedrichs in Car 27, the Land Rover Defender, who had helped so many people the day before, had awoke that morning to find the diesel in his fuel tank had frozen. This delayed them starting the day’s route and, in the confusion, they missed the amendment and headed for a closed pass. When the rally made contact with Rudi, he said he did wonder how some of the others had got through all the snow and ice. He then detoured back to the amended route only to discover a further amendment had been made to the delight of all the crews.
Advance team Mac Mackenny and Dr Richard Wain-Robson had arrived at the campsite for the last of the three camping nights. The plan was to camp alongside the Indus River; however, the winds were fierce on arrival and it was deemed an unsuitable location.
A few phone calls later between Event Director Liz Wenman, Route planner Kim Bannister and the local agents, and the whole rally was shifted to the warmth and comfort of a hotel in Geji, some 100km up the road.
When Mac and Dr Rich delivered the news, surprisingly no one was disappointed to hear that our nights under canvas were over.
However, someone had to stay and deliver the news to Rudi and Helga Friedrichs who had done a 50km re-route, and then had to drive 80km to the third campsite where sweeps Richard Last and Simon Clooney were waiting for them to bring them the 100km to the new night halt.
Arriving late in the evening, they were all soon tucked up in bed with not just their memories of a great day on the road to keep them warm.