28.09.2013 - 28.09.2013
We are finally in Italy and, as usual, the first stretch of the day involves numerous hairpins going in a practically vertical direction. "Bianca feels very frisky this morning," shouts The Driver, over the squeal of tyres as blind corners take on an added touch of excitement when we come into low cloud.
The Italian sun breaks through as we sweep into the beautiful square of Pamparato village to be Time Checked at a table set up under a shading tree by Dick Appleton...
A gathering of locals give us delicious locally baked biscuits and the cafe bar made the best coffee of the week.
Only one Regularity Trenta Miglia today before the Finish Line. Following our sterling performance at the last couple we felt pretty confident.
I want to give you proof of our dizzy heights at the top of the leader board on Day 5. I know it's "not done" to brag but THIS MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN so we must milk it for all it's worth!
Dear Reader it didn't go well. The first .5km I was reading charts for 38km instead of 37km. We got back on time and then The Driver dropped the stopwatch, had to undo his belts, pick it up and re-buckle. You would think this would only take seconds but when it happens on a left-hand hairpin and there are four belts to fasten it seems like an eternity. The stopwatch stopped on impact with Bianca's flooring but after clicking various buttons it started again. IT MIGHT SOUND PRETTY RUN-OF-THE-MILL TO YOU SITTING IN YOUR ARMCHAIR READING THIS. LET ME TELL YOU....IT WAS STRESS OFF THE RICHTER SCALE! But, refusing to throw in the spanners, we still thought we had a crack at hauling ourselves back on track...after all it was a 26km long Regularity.
The sight of brown grass and olive trees hint at warmer things to come but there were what seemed like hundreds of tornati (Italiano for sharp bends/hairpins) to be dealt with first. Do you ever wonder if I want to puke? If you know me you will think this an absolute certainty....normally I can hardly pick up a map let alone read it en route to anywhere. But weirdly rallying doesn't have the same affect. Some days I take motion sickness pills 'just in case' but, so far, all has remained where it was put. I am told it's the adrenaline!
We head off on our final whizz to the finish in the hills above Sanremo and are back in the clouds. A lone cow looms out of the mist, all alone on a mountain road. We have seen lots of cows...brown, white, black. I like cows. The Fisher Family has a daft family tradition of shouting, COW! COW! COW! in memory of me screaming it at a Malaysian taxi driver who was so high on something or other he didn't spot one which almost upended on our bonnet.
We pull off the road to attach our Union Jack flags and take the covers off Bianca's spot lights and with horn blaring and all lights a-go-go we arrive at the finish arch. Sadly we don't have a photo of us...yet. But here are the winners....Ivo and William in their Austin Healey 100M.
It seems Ivo's Zen paid off!
And here is Bianca with her rosette parked next to Car No. 39, a 1963 Mercedes 230SL (WII3) driven by York, he-of-the-waxed-moustache (sorry no photo...he doesn't speak much English!) and navigated by the ridiculously charming and amusing Franck.
Now a little bit of history for you Dear Reader. Legendary Eugen Bohringer drove Car No. 39 to victory in the 1963 Spa-Sophia-Spa, which covered 5,500km in 90 hrs. Moustachioed York located the car (which Mercedes told him had been scrapped years ago) restored it and brought it to the 2013 event after Mercedes eventually acknowledged it was the car he'd always believed it to be! The red beauty wore down two full sets of brake pads in five days, climbed almost 30,000m on the Coupe des Cols only to be disqualified as they were minutes late at the final Time Check and very very nearly won this year's Rally. By the time 'she' came through the Finish Arch...
she was dirty, sore and weary, her exhaust dragging, brakes almost shot....again. But OMG they had an utter blast and so did we with them!
I will leave you with one of my favourite photos of The Driver....
Yes, that is Mt. Blanc!
p.s. we came 6th overall in the Club Class. It seems we made a total balls-up of that last Regularity. But hey...that's Rallying. If it was easy what would be the point eh? Will we do more? You bet. This Rally was fun, fun, fun....after those first two days!