Well it’s that time of year again folks, with the noise of the World Rally Championship still ringing in the hills behind Monaco, the slightly more sedate, but no less competitive Monte Carlo Historic will soon be taking its place on the legendary routes of Burzet and Turini.
Regular readers will notice that we’ve been a little quiet on here since our last outing on the Tour Auto. Not least because sadly the Bonneville Salt Flats flooded for their 100th anniversary meeting and the Flower of Scotland remained in her trailer safely out of the rain all of last August.
So it’s time to get the 2015 season off in style.
As usual, crews can choose from 5 starting towns which this year are Glasgow (our traditional departure point), Barcelona, Copenhagen, Reims and Turin but following a very odd change in the schedule which means that the Glasgow starters will spend 24 hours in Calais with nothing to do but freeze/ slit wrists we’ve elected to have a change of scene and have plumped for Turin.
The little Lancia Fulvia that nearly carried us to such a great result last year: we were top Brits, top 75 crews overall with 4km left to run.... (see below for the full story) has been dug out of the garage where it’s been stored since the end of last year and is fully prepared and stickered and ready for the off. With the plan being that we’ll set sail from Monte Carlo next Thursday to drive up to the official start in Turin on Friday evening.
We’re due over the ramp near the end of the 120 cars that will start with us, around 19.45pm, and initially we head South before turning West towards the Alps. The first 200km run takes in passage controls in Carmagnola, Pinerolo and then Sestrieres (itself a old Monte start town) before the first pause at Embrun around 2.30am where we hope to grab a few minutes sleep if the roads have been kind to us.
From Embrun we loop around the Southern Alps for another 400km on mountain roads with no planned halts for the next 10 hours! This will be the killer leg on what is known as “The Concentration Run” as fatigue sets in. A quick regroup which sees us joined by the cars from all the other starts and we set off on the final 140km (3 hours+) to Monaco including the first regularity special of the rally when of course both crew and car are tired.
We’re due to finish this opening leg around 5pm on the Saturday when after 21 hours in the car, the crew will then report to the local pizzeria for a 4 year-olds birthday party!!! (Well there is always a price to pay to hide from the family for a week!).
Then Sunday morning, it’s back in the car and off to Valence on the “Etape De Classement”, for another 12 hours in the rally car and 4 regularity stages where if it’s dry we’ll try and be as competitive as possible, and if it’s snowy we’ll simply try and stay on the road!
The rally eventually finishes early on Wednesday morning on the quayside in Monaco after the legendary Turini stages and I hope you’ll follow all our trials and tribulations on here with EFG Motor Racing?
This is at least the plan.
Regular readers will recall our last outing, on the Tour Auto, read like a medical report each day as my body gently fell apart under the stresses of pushing a heavy 1950’s car to its limits. This time both myself AND the co-driver have managed to hurt themselves in the run up to the rally. I’ve managed to twist a knee in the gym which with 3 days to the start has left me completely unable to push the clutch pedal, but which I’m more than optimistic will recover. However my Monte Co-pilot, Stuart, has managed to dislocate a disk and is currently laid out flat and has been for the past 48 hours. Will he manage to sit upright in time to get on the plane South on Thursday morning? At this stage it looks unlikely, but fingers are crossed and super-subs are being lined up to take his seat if required.
Life (and rallying) are never dull.
Your “keep taking the painkillers” correspondent,