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Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 9

Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 9

Trondheim. Sunrise at 3.22

Day 9 on the Arctic Midsun Night, despite just 205 km travelled, represented a balanced blend of adventurous driving and competition, with a free afternoon to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Røros.

But let’s start from the beginning of this second week in Scandinavia, when the crews left the Clarion Hotel in Trondheim, quite a peculiar hotel where the atrium, full of artworks, here is given a three dimensional special quality, the result of a rotational logic to optimize the view from each room (this time, however, John Bacon made sure that his wife Lyndall did not fail in her duties as a navigator to linger in the exploration of the place, as happened at the Wood Hotel in Skellefteå) to shake off the typical Monday morning slump (well, not the typical start to the office week anyway).

The starting order for the day was in alphabetical order by navigator’s surname so the first to explore the city centre along the outbound route were the Bacons in Car 21 (archenemies of the  Mortons on the race courses on 5.5 mIC) and 20 minutes later, the last to hit the road were the Whitelocks in Car 11 (an elegant and charming couple who always seem to me to be on the set of the Dynasty series, very good friends of the Mortons, with whom they have shared other long-distance events). In short, as you may have guessed, the Mortons are the wild card of endurance rallies....

At 9am, all the crews had their foot on the accelerator to warm up their engines at the Bollandsmoen Motorbane circuit, a rallycross track with part tarmac and part gravel. To the cry of "if in doubt, flat out", a flamboyant Rob Collinge in Car 10 Ford Mustang loosened the reins on his powerful car's horsepower to post the fastest time in 1.53 sec, closely followed by the Norwegian crew Osland in Car 15 (did they come here in advance for a recce???) in 1.54; both the Mortons in Car 18 and the Engelen in Car 20 finished in 1.55, so they are really tied up both on regularities and on tests. Ivan Pusnik was unable to repeat yesterday's excellent performance because his front-wheel drive car is at a distinct disadvantage compared to rear-wheel drive cars on such a variable gradient.

Not even enough time to assess the speed performance, because 20 minutes later it was time to test the endurance performance in the first of today's two regularities, along the Gaula riverbed (if yesterday's question about the best salmon had not been completely settled, it would certainly be reopened today, as the salmon caught here is among the best in Norway), in a landscape where the torvtak, the typical turf houses with roofs covered with turf, shrubs and flowers (excellent thermal insulation and waterproofing), made their appearance, the closest I have ever seen to fairy tale houses.

At the morning coffee halt in Storen, a lot of smiles on happy faces, maybe because the cakes and the coffee were something even a fussy Italian food lover like me would have loved to have tasted, but being on a perpetual diet to fit into Marylin's fluttering dress, I had to content myself with keeping my mouth watering. There was also a moment for a souvenir photo of Louise Morton with Ivan Pusnik, whose envious fellow travellers suggested he hold his breath to look slimmer and whom I had to remind that I can Photoshop but not work miracles!

Back in the car on the way to the second and final regularity of the day, when the radio played the song 'November Rain', I realised it was what the Latins call nomen omen (the name is a premonition), and indeed it started to rain so hard that I was not surprised to meet Noah, on the side of the road, collecting wood for the Ark 2, the only way to escape unscathed from the universal deluge that characterised reg 2, A narrow gorge along the river Bua (in Italian, it's the childish onomatopoeic language for physical pain, which is exactly what I was feeling with the icy raindrops running down my back), where cars skirted torrential waterfalls that I'm sure were just dripping taps before.

The afternoon was free for crews to explore Rørøs, the traditional mountain village in Trøndelaf, one of the oldest towns of wooden buildings in Europe, with about 80 houses dating back to 1700s and 1800s (many of them have facades with a 'smoky' appearance due to the fire of 1679) all the way from the charming streets, full of traditional craft shops, down to the old copper mines. I couldn’t decide if the Bergstadens Ziir (the Rørøs Church) is more beautiful outside, with his dark inlays on the white facade or inside, with 8 different types of colored marbles and I was also not sure about which of the tiny turf houses was the cutest (I even saw a goat grazing the grass on the roof!). I am particularly fond of Røros because it was the setting for some episodes of my favourite series as a child, Pippi Longstocking (I used to make my own braids and put iron wire in them to keep the spikes up; those who were with me at HERO's Icelandic Saga 2015 saw me do it...).

From a competition point of view, the overall positions at the end of day 9 have not changed since yesterday, so we still have the Mortons in Car 18 in first place, followed by the pressing Engelens in Car 20 and the rampant Pusniks in Car 17. We are still five days away from deciding which team will be the one on which the sun will not set, so we are not making any predictions, although I am not superstitious like many in Italy. Simply because being superstitious brings bad luck....


Røros. Sunset at 23.03

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