WE GOT A PRIZE!!!!!!!!!!
25.01.2013 - 25.01.2013 14 °F
We are in Austria and I'm raring to go. Almost too excited to eat breakfast. We've had a quick look at the route. At 0819 hrs precisely (18th to leave) I'm given pages and pages of route changes, Track Tests and Regulations all to be done before lunch and the chequered flag.
They no longer phase me. This is our last day. Where did the previous five go? On Tuesday I was dreading the rest of the week, didn't know how I would get through it physically and mentally. But now....Wow....Everyone is bouncing like Tigger this morning. Ben's warming up Bianca outside the hotel door and we are off. Forecast is for ice and fog so the chaps in their open Bentleys and Alvis are all wrapped up, heated vests plugged in, as it's snowing pretty hard.
We have a long stretch on the motorway, which isn't much fun but gives me time to makes the changes to the route, plot the next Regularity and look at the Track Test; I'm better at my left and right hand hairpin warnings now! Passing logging trucks en route, we reach the first Time Check with time to spare and even manage a hot chocolate and espresso. A group of Navigators are grouped around Tomorrow Never Dies with furrowed brows. No longer in awe of their expertise and feeling 'like-a-girl', I join the group. There is laughter all round and off we go.
And I didn't get us lost; we found all the chapels and drove down tracks you wouldn't think a tractor would attempt.
If someone had told me a week ago we'd be doing this I would have had them certified as insane!
We see a covey of partridge blithely unawares of the buzzards overhead. Snowboarders and skiers, smoke pours from chimneys and children sledging with red noses. This is truly spectacular; I wish we had time to stop and stare.
The Faistenau Track Test was a big one. It seemed like we'd all turned up at once! There's something different in the air; everyone's smiling. And I've never seen so many men having a pee! Honestly, as soon as we are all in a line waiting to go through a Time Check these chaps all get their todgers out. I have wondered what they'd do if I went into the midst of them and 'do what women do' when desperate? At least it gives us few girls something to laugh about!
The light had gone flat. A red Porsche 911 came off the track and buried itself in the snow. The driver's out with his shovel. To avoid collision we plough into the same snow. They close the track. I'm thrilled and throw myself out of my door with camera in hand.
They reopen the Track and we finish with a perfect STOP ASTRIDE. We want to do it again. Ben's CROSS. It's the first time he's come off the road.
So then it's a dash/chase to the finish at the magnificent Schloss Hellbrunn (where they filmed the Sound of Music's "I am 16 going on 17"!). We have two cars in front of us and we are all going as fast as **** off a shovel. Through the chequered flag, Winter Trial arch, up on Bianca's roof,
champagne in hand, photographers, tears, hugs and kisses all round. WE ARE TRIUMPHANT TO HAVE FINISHED.
We get chatting to other drivers who, until now, have been elusive largely down to their competitiveness. Topless-Alvis-Bill who is charm personified (and competes with his equally delightful son-in-law navigator) says, "Is it true you have never rallied before?". We replied in the affirmative saying we didn't buy Bianca until 11th December 2012. "F****g 'ell!" he shouts. "Are you mad? What possessed you? This is the hardest rally I've ever done and I've been doing it for bloody years." Others join in. We are beginning to feel a bit proud. Seems it was tough for everyone not just this wimpy girl and her ever-patient husband!
Tulip maps back to the hotel; Topless-Alvis-Bill comes along side at a junction and shouts to Ben,"will you swap navigators"? and promptly sets off in the opposite direction. I can't get my head around the fact it's over and am still shouting directions..."right after 1.23kms, left at next traffic lights." "Sweetheart, it's over," says my driver. I don't know whether to be elated or distraught. Just as I was getting the hang of it......
So, it's time for the Gala back at the Schloss. Black tie dress code. Ours is still hanging on our bedroom door back home. No matter. I do have my four inch heels, one frock, a fur collar and lipstick. What more does a girl need? We get on a bus. We navigators wonder if the driver knows the way.
Champagne, candlelight, flowers, people on stilts, hot and cold running waiters. Glorious. Screens with photos of cars in snow, off roads, spinning round corners. Photographers have been everywhere and were a comforting sight as they were obviously expecting you to come around that particular corner in the middle of bloody nowhere.
Speeches. Father and daughter team won the novice prize. Dear Reader; this 'family' were not speaking at the end of the rally. Serious issues must have gone on as there were no photos, fizz or celebrations when they came through the chequered flag.
WE GOT A PRIZE. All competitors were asked to vote for the Most Gentlemanly Team; the team which exhibited the True Spirit of Rallying. It was awarded to THE FISHERS. There must be other Fishers (Fischers) competing and we hadn't realised. NO, DEAR READER, IT WAS US. You can imagine the tears. I haven't won anything since I was six at my Primary School and I think that was a 'pity' prize. The elation was beyond anything imagineable.
"Everyone outside," shouts Bart, much to the dismay of 1972 Mercedes-280SE Peter, who loves his puddings! Soon we are cosy in aluminium 'blankets'..... (I have no idea who this man is!!)
as we head into the snow covered courtyard. In come the two winning cars spinning around an incredibly calm opera singer who is belting out "We are the Champions". Yes, it was kitch but what the hell. We were all so high on excitement by this time if Christiano Ronaldo had been doing keepy-uppy on the car roofs we wouldn't have been surprised.
Fireworks next light up the Austrian night-sky, plus more champagne, pudding (Peter's happy) and a band before at 2330hrs we stagger back to the buses. What on earth will we do tomorrow?