Today was one of those proper Marathon days, the kind where come the end of the day you know you’re in a rally, where you reach the final time control with sweat cascading down your brow and hands engrained with the dirt of a day on the road. The cars too, look and smell like they’ve been in a fistfight with the scenery, caked in dust and grime, stinking of the fluids used to keep them in motion, the heat haze jettisoning off of warm bonnets and out of vents. Yes, this was a proper day.
Another six regularities are now under the belt, as well as another Kart Circuit test, that kicked off a day of 334km that took us to the halfway point of the event. It feels like it has gone quickly and that we have hardly been here at all, which is none too surprising considering the pace of life. A Marathon, not a sprint, but at times throughout the past few days sprint has perhaps been more apt, not that the drivers are complaining mind you, as excitement levels are often intrinsically linked to the needle on the speedometer.
Another day where the first competitive element was a speed test, this time on the Koper Kart circuit, a spaghetti mess of a track that was somewhat roughshod in appearance. Its somewhat dystopian appearance may have encouraged one or two drivers to take a liberal approach to track limits, but then it’s hard to define the limit when the lines between asphalt and undergrowth are as blurred as they are at Koper. It made for some entertaining kerb hopping, and a special mention must go to 14. Philip Armstrong (IE) + Peter Rushforth (GB), bouncing and bumping the canary yellow Volvo PV544 from apex to apex, with little care for the car underneath them.
They weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves of course, and the fun would continue throughout the rest of the morning, particularly on the second regularity of the day which was a long riotous ride through the dense forest on the slopes of the Snežnik massif, on a dirt road that threw plumes of dust into the atmosphere beneath the canopy, coating everything and everyone who passed through it. Great shafts of light pierced through the trees and illuminated the airborne particles, in a light show that followed each passing car. For anyone that followed too closely in the wheel tracks of another competitor, the visibility was reduced to almost nothing, adding an extra dimension of difficulty to a drive that was already complicated by the general lack of adhesion on the road below. This was no place you wanted to end up in the scenery either, as the forest is home to some 400 bears, as well as Lynx and Wolves, although I’m not sure anybody informed the photographers of this? Actually, has anyone seen the photographers this evening?!