After China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland we cross our last border into our 11th country. Had it not been for the enthusiastic farewell from the Swiss side we would have not noticed one of the least noticeable border crossings ever. A nice gesture and appreciated.
We are departing from the route book for the first time on the whole rally today – we have over 500km to drive from Lausanne to Reims and the route book suggests a long day of no-doubt very pretty B roads that has us getting in after 7pm. The French authorities, in light of the tragic events in Nice and the general level of security now here, have insisted that we all follow the scheduled route but I’m not sure how this is relevant or how they will monitor it. The organisers have suggested that anyone who fails to check in at the Passage Controls will be ‘fined’ an amount per PC for charity.
Bit the competition is over and we have only one aim and that is to get the car safely to Paris. We are unlikely to cause the police concern and the ‘fine’ is acceptable, and it’s for charity, and so we head for the Route des Anglais autoroute and a smooth and uneventful drive up to Reims.
We still have over 500km tomorrow and 180km on Sunday so the rally is not over but there is a definite sense of relief as we pull onto the Avenue de Rhodanie, past the interestingly named Chateau d”Ouchy and the Olympic Museum, in Lausanne. We are on the shores of Lac Leman and the Jag is safely tucked underground for the night. This is the right setting for the Jag but a little tidy up might be in order before a promenade – for car and crew probably.
With the last stage done the initial results are in and despite a late charge we have failed to overtake the Mini – failed by just over 4 minutes after 13,000km! Results will be confirmed tomorrow but as it stands we finished 23rd out of 57 in the Classic category and 2nd in class (that by just under 2 hours to the ’54 Sunbeam Alpine). We have been flitting up to 21st and 22nd over the past few days as other cars had problems and picked up time penalties but then slipped back down as some of those time penalties were rescinded – the scoring is a bit of a mystery to quite a few. Sadly our one issue back in Aya, in Russia, on Day 13 when we smashed the gearbox casing and ended up on a truck to Novosibirsk meant we missed a couple of time checks and therefore missed on the Gold Medal. Still, it’s a Silver Medal and a 2nd in Class which for a really silly car and 2 novice rallyists and the toughest drive out there is not bad going.
It’s amazing that the iPhone has survived – it’s been held out of the window on gravel stages, in the Gobi desert, in Mongolian villages, on mountain passes and in the wilds of Siberia.. and it’s not been dropped!
Just a couple of snaps of other cars en route…
Today is the last day of actual competition. Tomorrow is a long but not competitive drive to Reims and then Sunday a short jaunt into Paris. So arriving at the last timed stage, at the Croix de Coeur overlooking Verbier, brought an air of excitement and trepidation. Matt was driving this afternoon and so looking at the route book I read out that it showed a 7km stage, on tarmac, with no hairpins. I’m not overly sure who chose what went into the route book as the tarmac turned into rough gravel in 100m and every second corner was a hairpin. Nonetheless it was fun and it was survived.