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Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 16 Muscat to Fujairah – 501 KM

Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 16 Muscat to Fujairah – 501 KM

This is it, the last stint, just two more days to go. Put on your cleanest dirty shirt and lace up your dusty boots and have at it. Everything’s creaking by now, cars making noises they really shouldn’t make, some of it is in your head and some of it is real but by hook or by crook you’ve got to make the finish now. Everything is dirty, sand has crept into every crack and crevice possible, and seats and upholstery are stained with the salt and sweat of two weeks of rallying in the heat and the whole bloody mess is glorious. Rallying, endurance rallying, conquering countries, and continents, on roads less travelled, this is the stuff! And then there is a border crossing to bring you back down to earth.

Goodness me, there’s nothing like a border to pull the wind from your sails, but the bureaucracy and process of exit and entry is just part of the journey. Today it was the last part of the process with customs that took the time, a minor inconvenience really. It was trickier to begin with, when the organisation trucks went through, with a few frantic phone calls back and forth to iron out the creases. The whole thing was helped tremendously every time route planner John Spillers phone went off, with his ‘Royal Britannia’ ringtone blaring out across the customs office, did I mention Spiller is a former diplomat?

Border despatched and the day could begin in earnest, with a regularity through the hills on a route also enjoyed by the Dubai Mille Miglia, although scenery wise it wasn’t exactly the Tuscan Hills. Up above and the sky sat heavy with the clouds of an electrical storm, thunder rumbled, and lightening was hitting the peaks of the nearby mountains that the road carved a path through. There was a bit more excitement when a roadworks crew turned up to re-tarmac a section of road right on top of one of the timing points, being manned by one half of our ‘Yorkshire Contingent’ marshal team, Henry Carr. I wonder what the road-workers thought when they found an Englishmen dressed like Bear Grylls stood out in a storm on the very spot where they were intending to put down some fresh blacktop. I daresay it made a difference to shooing away stray Camels.

The real fun of the day began with the penultimate desert time control of the rally, although the sparse wasteland was more reminiscent of something from Mordor than the sandy wilderness we had enjoyed elsewhere during the competition. It was a vast nothingness, filled only with towering electricity pylons, silhouetted against the doom-laden clouds overhead that were bringing swathes of rain across the landscape in vast contrast to everything else we had experienced weather wise in the past 16 days.

The ground underneath was a mixture of finely graded tracks and rough stuff, with a couple of particularly troublesome descents where the ruts had deepened spectacularly, and carehad to be taken. Well, unless your name is Lars Rolner that is, who launched himself off one particularly steep bank as though he was capable of holding back gravity itself. The navigation was problematic as well, with many tracks possible and only slight errors costing crew’s time. Richard Walker and Faith Douglas fell foul of the multiple tracks on offer and lost a minute, although they are still looking good for a great result come the finish after a few stellar days of navigation from Faith.

The biggest casualty of the day was Michael McInerney and Jose Arana Villavicencio in the silver Ford V8, who had been sitting in a well earned second place overall for a fair few daysnow. But for some reason they missed an end of day route control, costing themselves 5 minutes and dropping out of the podium positions in the first place. Their error has promoted the Lagonda of Mike Dreelan and Bob Pybus back into third spot, despite its ongoing gearbox issues. This hasn’t stopped Mike going for it on the competition though and today they posted the joint third best time, dropping just two seconds, a wonderful achievement considering their handicap of recent days. Best on day went to the gearbox nursing Chevy driving Argentinians, Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta, recording no penalty time on the day whatsoever, the competition leaders hitting their marks perfectly before the final victory push tomorrow.

Unbelievably tomorrow is the final day the competitors will clamber into their cars, for a final day that will stretch across 412 km and take us to our final destination of Dubai. There are three competitive sections still to contest, the busiest timetable for a few days now and knowing Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock, everyone will need to be on their guard to avoid any last-minute errors. Time for one final sleep, before our final curtain call at 08:30 tomorrow morning.


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