Saturday 7th July
Started again in very cloudy weather, so much so that we had not noticed we needed some more petrol. So our timed first stage had to now include a petrol stop at what must have been the busiest & slowest garage in the area. By the time we arrived at the start of the timed climb up Gargellan we were almost the last car and could not make up any time without gaining more penalties. And penalties accumulate at one point for every 1/100th of a second too fast or too slow…. A Subaru appeared from somewhere and blocked the road as we were queuing behind parked cars to get back in front of some who had overtaken us on the climb not realising they were supposed to keep to an average speed. So we were temporarily stuck out of sequence until they were spoken to. Just about made it back onto schedule. But its very hard to judge exactly where the front of the car is to 1/100th of a second when it triggers the laser beam. So more points collected!
But the weather improved and the sun came out and we met up with Paul B again in his Lancer Turbo on the return down the mountain and drove in convoy for some time with Sandy riding in Paul Bs car to take some nice shots of us in motion. By the time we got to the end of this first timed section we had thankfully made up for our lost time getting petrol and joined the queue for the next series of tests. More difficulties in judging car positions gained us more penalty points. But not too many this time. More than can be said for the closed level crossing where we were the 4th car in line awaiting the ploddy train to pass. At least it was not as long as the herd of cows on their way to or from milking the previous day….
We then routed through the Silvertal, Duns & Nenzing at times over some very small windy (no overtaking possible) but picturesque roads to our lunch stop in Brand – a most beautiful resort which will get a return visit at some point outside a rally. What a nice lunch it was too but only just long enough for the car to cool off a bit in the hot sun before starting the afternoon session.
So far this was our best day. And so far so good. Our last test at the Vandans village circuit (twice around the closed roads of the village) was going very well and bang on target until the inevitable happened right at the end when the brake and accelerator pedals momentarily swapped places…..Still, even with these unexpected points we still had our best day finishing with around 2900 penalty points (ie 29 seconds adrift over 3 days).
But many other crews fared much better due mostly to experience and competence (plus a little luck) and we finished 81st out of 167 starters, almost half way down and out of the prizes. But we did finish second on one test and got only 9 penalties on another so there is much hope for our next event. We know we can do better next time. Most importantly we enjoyed ourselves immensely and it was a good way to celebrate the old man’s 60th birthday.