Badawï Trail, Syd Stelvio | Day 5 Tabuk to Al Ula – 495 KM
It was now unbelievably getting into the afternoon; the day was going by extremely quickly and progress was swift. The roads were quiet and when we did pass locals they waved and cheered, taking photos and gawping at the spectacle as the cars passed through. A tremendously steep climb awaited us all on the second regularity of the day, peaking at 500 metres on a short but abrupt ascent onto a windy plateau.
This was followed by a run into a landscape that resembled Mars, with strangely eroded sandstone rock formations reaching into the sky. These rock pedestals were vast in height and size, created by millions of years of wind erosion creating their unique forms. One of the most famous of these is the Mushroom Rock, where the days last passage control was located, with time built in for some, at times, exuberant photographic fun around the rock. The final run of the day into Al Ula would reveal similar landscapes, which were looking particularly ethereal as the sun began to drop and the orange and yellow hues of the sandstone were accentuated by the light of the waning day.
Once the scores of the day had been calculated the Argentinian pairing of Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta had reclaimed top spot, with car number 12, the Ford V8 crewed by Michael McInerney (IE) + Jose Arana Villavicencio (CA) moving into second ahead of Tommy Dreelan and George Barrack in third. In the competition for the post war cars Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis had now captured top spot with a brilliant day, with Peter and Louise Morton a couple of minutes behind, followed by Lars and Anette Rolner in third after amassing 4 minutes of penalty on the day.
It has finally felt like we have begun, and no doubt everyone will be raring to get going again after the competition only rest day on day six. If this is what Saudi Arabia has got to offer, it is going to be a fantastic week or so exploring the Kingdom.