This is it, the last day, time to consolidate a lead or put pressure on those around you and hope they make a mistake. Things are getting tense now, after five days of rallying there is just one more to go, another 255 clicks on the odometer after a journey of a couple of thousand. Dead certs have already fallen by the wayside in the pursuit of glory, so this is no time to be taking anything for granted, there is no processional finish here and if those in the hunt want to succeed, they will need to be both prudent and bold.
The day began slightly later than the previous five, but nobody told those in Ljubliana about the competitor’s extra hour in bed, as the church bells rang at 7am, and continued to ring as if signalling an impending invasion. The alarm bells might have been ringing for the navigators and drivers as well, as the first regularity through them straight into the tough stuff, with well-hidden timing points and an almost fully gravel reg, throwing trip meters off and causing headaches and missed slots throughout the field.
At the morning coffee stop, there was palpable tension in the air, all the discussions were fixated on times and how well people had done, with almost everyone downplaying their chances of success. It was clear that on this last leg, with no less than seven regularities to contend with, nothing was going to be easy, but then it oughtn’t be really, this is the Classic Marathon after all.
Four more regularities followed in quick succession before the lunch break, on tricky gravel roads, in between the thickly forested hills in this part of Slovenia. There were plenty of opportunities to get it wrong, plenty of chances to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It was hot again as well, incredibly hot, with the mercury hitting 34 degrees in places and no doubt the cockpits, already filled with the tension of the final day, were an inferno of heat and emotion.