Hi, I'm Rick Pearson and over the following 7 days (wifi permitting!) I'll be blogging here on the EFG motor-racing website direct from Tunisia as we follow the first running of the Mille Et Un Nuits Classic.
Organised by desert (and Dakar) legend, "Fenouil" as a Regularity Tour for Historic Cars the event marks a departure for him from his normal VERY off-road trips/rallies and promises to take in all the varied sights this stunning country has to offer.
With 20 historics, accompanied by a pair of slightly more modern cars where force majeure meant the original car entered failed to make yesterday's boat from Marseille, the 7 day long event started today with the a quick dash across Tunis and technical scrutineering. (Or as it's more properly known in this sort of Gentlemen's event: "getting the stickers on sort of straight!"). After the carnage in the Port in Marseille where the dockers managed to put several cars bound for Tunisia on the boat for Algeria instead (forcing them to then unload the Algiers boat while ours waited...) and then the controlled chaos that is the customs procedure in any North African port in Tunis this morning the organisers had wisely opted for a very gentle start today.
For myself and my 5 months pregnant wife, our chosen weapon, a 1952 Aston DB2 didn't make it out of the paint shop in time so we had to substitute with the only car we could beg/borrow/steal that was vaguely interesting: a Porsche 964 RS with a biturbo motor! So while we won't have the oldest car on the rally anymore we should at least have the most powerful! However the car is in full clubsport specification which means very little suspension travel and an even smaller hole to post a pregnant wife past the roll cage into the passenger seat...
The "opposition" consists of a stunning mix of E-types and an XK150 from French club: L'Amicale de Jaguar plus several lovely classic Porsches, a Lotus Elan, a twin-engined Citroen 2CV (!) and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow which threatens to seriously deplete Tunisia's petrol reserves single-handedly.
First car is away at 8am tomorrow as the rally heads inland to Medjez El Bab where the first shots were exchange between American and German troops in the Second World War. It was supposedly said by Hannibal that "Whoever has Medjez-el-Bab has the key to the door and is the master of all Tunisia" but for the Mille Et Un Nuits participants it will just be a entry point to the "Swiss Tunisia" as we play briefly in the mountains before heading back to the Coast to overnight on the Mediterranean at Tabarka.
Yours trying to drive at 50kph exactly,
Two Jaguars, two Porsches and a 2CV with 2 engines!