It’s a new roadbook kind of a day! A pivotal moment in any long rally and sometimes a turning point for any crews who have hit the wall, after all, once you change over to the second roadbook it’s all downhill right? Well, perhaps not and today, as we began at sea level alongside the Red Sea, it was more a case of what comes down must go up.
Way up as it happened, but that would come later. First, we had to escape Jeddah in amongst the rest of the city going about its daily business, with no care for what we were about, and why should they either? I must admit, there is always a certain amount of satisfaction being in amongst the daily grind as we head out on another day of adventure, a certain smugness as all those around are heading to their 9-to-5’s knowing that the day ahead for our little group is much more exciting.
The run out this morning was another long one, after all, we have a vast distance to cover before we hit our next border crossing as we cover the miles off in this country that is four times as large as France. For part of that journey at least we had the Red Sea to look upon, sapphire blue in the morning sun, dazzling and calm, the surface broken only by the fishermen as they cast lines into the cerulean water. A glance out of the other side of the car revealed quite a different story, as distant sandstorms covered the view of the horizon, a contrasting outlook if ever there was one.
The first competitive section of the day was a fast run across a sandy beach, although Weston Beach Races was not, it was an enjoyable way to stretch the legs after the long transit section, without too many opportunities to get lost. This was about as flat as it would get from here on in, as soon the road turned inland, and slowly but surely tall mountains began to reveal themselves in the distance and the tarmac began to climb and undulate as the topography steepened.
The first regularity took place not too far into the alpine climb and was a fairly gentle first act of two in our new surroundings, but there was already trouble for one of the front runners. Mike Dreelan’s Lagonda had developed gearbox problems, in first, second and third gear! Not the news you want when faced with a day of climbing, but despite this he nursed the big Lagonda to the finish of the day and will be continuing for the rest of the competition.