Sunday, March 09, 2008

Monte Carlo Historique Rallye 2008: Finale

Racing in snow_2
ZR10 -another battle in the snow

The following day, Tuesday 5th February, we left the pretty ski resort of Briancon in a good mood. We now had our snow tyres and were still running with the pack. The previous night's performance on the ice circuit had elevated out spirits considerably. We had just two stages to do and then it was a straight run in to Monte Carlo. We were also relishing having another crack at the infamous Col de Turini later that the evening. Unfortunately this was not to be. The first of the day's stages, ZR10 Seyne les Alpes, was in a gorgeous location. Back in December we hadn't had time to do a reconnaissance of this section but from the start it didn’t look too bad. We raced away quietly confident and for the first two kilometers we were right on the clock. Then things went horribly wrong. We started climbing and the road surface comprised highly packed snow. Despite our studded tyres we lost momentum and came to a halt with the wheels spinning wildly. Cars were stuck all around us although an Mini Innocenti sped past without pausing. How on earth did he do this, I wondered? I got out of the car to help push and had an epiphany. One of our front wheels was spinning strenuously while the other was stopped dead; dammit my kingdom for a limited slip differential. Why did I ever think they were unnecessary? Note to self for next year -get a bloody Quaife. We struggled desperately to get traction and eventually got going with the help of willing spectators but we'd lost about six minutes. The stage was unbelievably treacherous and there were several nasty wrecks including a Porsche 911 that had gone off in a big way and was lying virtually inverted in a field. Bill went into 10/10 mode to recover this time and did indeed claw back one minute but we were pushing our luck (to put it mildly) and we clipped a bridge just 200 meters before the end of the stage and broke the steering rack. We actually completed the stage by pushing the car backwards over the line and then withdrew from the rally when we realised that repairs were impossible.

Jim and company duly turned up and the ACM officials called a breakdown truck. While we were waiting, a spectator informed us that we were the 6th car of the day to crash into the bridge. As he spoke, the 7th victim, a Porsche 356, tore off his entire rear bumper but somehow kept going. Following a quick review of our damage (it really wasn't bad but Minis are very fragile) Jim produced a bottle of 5 star cognac and we held an impromptu party at the roadside. After 30 minutes of relative hilarity Bill and I made our way to Monte Carlo in the comfort of John Griffin’s Ford Galaxy minivan for the various festivities.

Road Conditions
Road conditions on ZR10 were treacherous: this picture is at the end of the stage. The dreaded bridge is just out of sight. Earlier the road was hard packed ice

Pushed over the line
PRX 720B completes the ZR10 stage by being pushed over the line, backwards

Jim takes charge
Jim arrives and takes charge

Damage assessment
While we assess the damage, old friends Jackie Parkin and John Goldstone go past in their fab Mk 1 Jaguar. This was their first rally and a real baptism by fire (or is that snow?)

Broken steering rack
The steering rack has clearly sheared

Bill pensive
Bill looks pensive and a bit flat

Mad Dogs Depressed
Depression raises its ugly head

Do I look bovvered
However Griffy is not bovvered

Juliette and Jim come to the rescue again

Mood enhancer
Mood enhancing medication appears -never mind the Prozac, here's 5 star Napoleon cognac. Perfect!


Did you hear the one about
Did you hear the one about the actress and the rally driver...?

Next year we'll win
Next year we'll win! Really!

With the exception of the first picture, all other photos are courtesy Stefan Sittner.

To be continued...

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