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Day 4

When the results were in from Wednesdays stages it was once again Jean-Michel and Marie-Françoise Arnaud who were in the lead in their 1973 Porsche S, nosing back past Marc and Danielle Rinaldi by just 2 tenths of a second! The quality of the crews on this, the first running of the Mille et Une Nuits organised by ex Dakar Rally organiser Fenouil, was in evidence as 19 of the 21 crews got within 10 seconds on the scratch time on the days regularity.

Jaguars in the morning sun

The Arnauds lead the field away

For our crew, our smallest error yet of just 7 seconds was still only good enough for 15th on the day and we dropped back to 10th overall, just one second behind 5 times Tour De France winner Bernard Consten and his wife Claude in their V12 E-type Jaguar and just one second ahead of the beautiful Mercedes 280SL of Claude Guyot and Pascal Guiraud.

Crossing the Salt Flats at speed

Winding roads approching Matmata

So the Arnauds led the field away from the overnight halt in Tozeur and the crews headed east, with the hills that had offered such a spectacular descent yesterday on our left, onto the Chott (salt flats). Running 50 meters below sea level on straight roads speeds were much higher than in recent days and the power of the 911s in the field told as the first 4 cars to the lunch halt were Porsches. Clearly with the most modern car of the bunch this was our morning in the sun.

Troglodyte Lunch Stop

Fast morning roads meant the first 4 cars to lunch were

So 224km took us to lunch in Matmata and a Troglodyte hotel (yet more Star Wars filming locations en route) with the final run into the break featuring some fabulous sweeping hill roads. More of the same just after the restart before a very tricky regularity in spectacular scenery on a hillside looking over the plains below and featuring crests and tight hairpins to test those trying to maintain exactly 48kph as required.

Chasing 5 times Tour de France winner Bernard Contens through the hills

The Laurences lead us away from Kairouan

... although camels prove a traffic hazard

Once the regularity was out of the way another 70km took us across broken roads (where once again the ride comfort of the Rolls Royce saw it pounding past other competitors) before the roads opened out to the coast and a ferry ride across to the holiday island of Djerba.

The ferry to Djerba...

... packed with lovely classics
Tomorrow we return towards Matmata initially to pick up some more of those fabulous sweeping hill roads before turning north for the walled city of Kairouan. The longest day of the rally at 432km will undoubtedly take its toll on the crews but the spectacular vistas are worth every single kilometre!

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