Now I’ve been released from 26 hours of Tunisian ferry roller-coaster, a final update: When the final results were in... there was a surprise! Dakar legend and organiser of this first running of the Mille et Une Nuits, “Fenouil”, had put an intermediate check point in the final stage of regularity rallying on the final day, and the top crews were undone! Sneaking up on the rails after quietly lurking in the top 5 all rally were the Swiss crew of Yves and Elka Gouzer in their Austin Healey. Yves had totally rebuilt the car after taking it to the Himalaya’s and suffering all sorts of indignities hitting trains and trucks amongst other things and the 30km final stage saw them storm into the lead accumulating just 8 secs of error to take their final tally to 33 seconds over the rally. The overnight leaders, the Laurents from Serre Chevalier in their Lotus Elan (bought to celebrate Claude Laurent’s exploits at Le Mans in a Lotus in the 1960’s) slipped back to 2nd place by 3 seconds with pre-rally favourite and Tour de France regularity winner, Marc Rinaldi in 3rd just another 2 seconds behind. 4 times Monte Carlo rally (and twice Historic Monte) competitor, Jacques Fossa just missed out on a top 3 placing by 2 seconds in his 911 while early rally leaders, the Arlauds slipped to 6th after a disastrous final stage.
For our novice crew, we managed just a 4 second error on the final timing point of the final stage which was our most accurate result of the rally and saw us hold on to 10th place and 1st modern car home. We were also first novices and first of those crews rallying without significant electronic aids in the form of tripmasters and average speed indicators so were pretty pleased with the result. As expected, my pregnant wife’s competitive streak overcame her car sickness and she achieved her aims of beating both her Uncle (14th in the Rolls Royce) and Father (16th in the Safari replica Volvo) so we came home happy (and still speaking!).
It’s been a wonderful adventure with a fabulous group of people, every one of which seemed very pleased with the organisation and the overall route (and quality) of the rally. To a man they announced their intentions to return next year, and if you wish to join us or see more (professional!) photos of the rally, visit the official Mille et une Nuits website and its photo gallery.
I hope to see you in Tunis in October 2011!