Skip to content

Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 7 Al Ula to Medina – 526 KM

Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 7 Al Ula to Medina – 526 KM

Medina, the second most holy city in Islam and until recently a place where us Infidels could not tread, but a city that today would welcome the competitors of the Badawi Trail. First though there was the small matter of 526 kilometers of desert to get across, and some of the best regularities yet.

Al Ula had played host to the event’s only rest day, with its historical and geological landmarks providing opportunities for those not fixing cars to immerse themselves in the culture of the area. Of course, nobody would be taking a drink on their day off, and you must admire the humour of the organization who after giving the competitors a rest day in a dry country also saw fit to house them in a health farm on their day off.

Fit and rested it was an earlyish start, and the morning sun gazed down upon the field as they headed out past an architectural mirage, in the form of the all-mirrored building of the Maraya gallery, the largest of its type in the world. It was an impressive and immersive spectacle, almost invisible until viewed up close and the perfect foil of modern beauty against the classic lines of the rally cars.

A long transit section followed before the roadbook diverted the cars from the main highway to a desert section of considerable length that would also contain the first regularity of three that would be contested on the day. Appropriately titled ‘Lost Wadi’, this tricky desert section would be a test of driving skill and nerve, as sharp rocks threatened to pierce tyres and deep and steep wadis caused the pace to drop to a crawl in places, as the machines negotiated the sometimes aggressive and abrupt undulations of the ground. It was damn good fun though and finished with a flurry through a smooth flat-out section of sand, as the rocks abated for an end to the reg that had the odd area of soft sand to slow down anyone that wandered from the designated track.

The day was a hot one, with temperatures of 42 degrees and the hard roads and tough climate was starting to take its toll on the cars. The Porsche 911 of Lars and Annette Rolner, usually so good in the rocks and the sand, was suffering clutch issues that forced the pair to skip the final competition section of the day. They were not alone, in total 11 crews abandoned the afternoon’s route in favour of getting their queasy cars to the hotel for some maintenance and the car park of our evening halt was a flurry of activity whilst the sun remained in the sky.

Those that did skip missed out on another pair of enjoyable regularities, the first of which began on dirt again, although this time a little smoother and on a surface that would reward those that could match their speed to the corrugations of the dirt surface below. Both Dreelan brothers were clearly enjoying themselves, as they slithered around the corners in their pre-war machines with aplomb. They would both have strong days, matching each other with 16 seconds on the day, after some excellent work from not just the drivers but both navigators as well, with Bob Pybus in the Lagonda being one of just a handful who managed to score zeros on today’s competition sections.

One pair that didn’t have quite such a good day at the races were Marco Fila and Stephanie Gout-Fila, who lost fistfuls of time in their 911 after some ill advice cost them their day. The story goes they were diverted away from the regularity by another road user, who may or may not have been a competitor, thus missing it completely, which was a shame as they recorded excellent showings on the other two regs of the day. Still, as our resident ‘Bond’ couple they no doubt looked fabulous even whilst making such a costly mistake.

It was a day of problems for those in Porsches, and Steve and Kerry Hucklesby were not exempt in their bright green 911 as the engine bay cover kept coming loose and firing itself into the air at will, taking the famous 911 spoiler deployment to new heights. Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis had perhaps the most spectacular Porsche predicament though, when Filip took Ann’s instruction of turn right literally and managed to beach their 911 on the last regularity of the day. Luckily for them Alain Lejeune and Herve Collette sacrificed their regularity to come to their aid, and helped dig the beached machine free, allowing Filip and Ann to complete the regularity and minimize the damage. They weren’t the only two to get stuck in the sand on this last competitive section, with many coming to grief in the tricky sand by the only timing point on what was a short, sharp reg. Needless to say, the red Hilux of marshals Nick Pullan and Henry Carr was kept very busy retrieving stricken machines, including the Aussie pair of Tony Sutton and David Emmerton in the gorgeous little Lancia Fulvia.

It was certainly a day of great entertainment as Saudi Arabia served up another day of brilliant action. In the leaderboard the top three remained the same, and despite their mishap Filip and Ann retained first place in the competition for the post-war machines, although with the deficit to Peter and Louise Morton diminishing, particularly after Peter and Louise were best on the day amassing just 9 seconds of penalty. Third place now belongs to William and Kathy Gill, another Australian crew, posting a respectable 20 seconds on the day and taking full advantage of the clutch issues suffered by Lars and Annette.

Joining us from tomorrow are six Saudi Arabian crews, who will join onto the back of the rally as we head to the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, where there will be a special reception at the Corniche Circuit, home of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. We would like to extend a big welcome to the Saudi crews, and hope they enjoy rallying alongside us.


We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.