Skip to content

Syd Stelvio, London to Lisbon Day 4 – Bordeaux to San Sebastian – 342km

Syd Stelvio, London to Lisbon Day 4 – Bordeaux to San Sebastian – 342km

There’s always a day on a long rally when the event feels like it really gets going and for this year’s London to Lisbon, today was that day. For starters the sun was out, beaming down on the deserted streets of Bordeaux, warming up the asphalt, and the marshals, in its glorious morning glow. It wouldn’t leave us all day and as the cars headed out on a long concentration run to the first of the days four regularities, there was renewed vigour amongst the competitors.

Too much renewed vigour if anything, as the first machines appeared at the start of the first regularity well before their due time, in a pattern that would continue for the rest of the leg. The cars travelled out in reverse position order this morning, affording those at the top of the standings a slight lie in and those at the head of the field the first crack at the regs. The opening competition section was a fun little spin around dense woodland, nothing too tricky, and this was reflected in a spread of minimal penalties across the field.

By the time this was completed the morning was already cantering on, and after a quick stop for a coffee and croissant there was another chunky concentration run, eating up the countryside and what remained of France, before a second regularity at Boulon, that predictably everyone arrived early for. The benefit of the minimal traffic and brisk progress meant extended time at lunch, served at the gorgeous Sainte-Marie-de-Gosse, and it’s 22 Peacocks who were making themselves heard. The grounds of the Chateau were a real treat and provided ample opportunity to soak up the warm sun, a pleasant experience considering the deluge of the previous day.

I daresay many would have remained there all afternoon, and after a large meal there were perhaps a few tired minds as whilst the morning had been relatively incident free, the second half of the day would offer up plenty of mistakes and incidents.

The landscape was beginning to change now, and the altitude was increasing and there were even some mountains in the distance. France was also waking up, and was strangely busy for a Sunday, especially surprising on these rural back roads. This was starting to cause some consternation for the drivers, and there were also unforced errors happening throughout the field, from top to bottom. Paul Crosby and Pete Johnson, leading the pack and near faultless all morning dropped a minute on the third regularity, and encountered a particularly militant French farmer. They hadn’t done anything especially egregious in the farmers direction, but I suppose he was having a day off ranting against fuel prices and decided to direct his rage at the damned Ingerlish who had dared to wrong slot into his farmyard.

Thankfully for the pair in the 911 they escaped, and with a joker in hand also escaped a serious dent to their lead to boot. Elsewhere a gaggle of cars suffered at the hands of some sheep, who, after taking inspiration from their blockading keepers, had set up their own protest mid tarmac, preventing the rally cars from continuing through the reg. The wooly rebels caused quite the problem and were described by one as Sheep in Wolves clothing.

The time penalties were creeping up all over the field, but the biggest losers in the top ten shuffle were yesterday’s top of the class, Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickins. They had tumbled from third to fifteenth by the end of the day, after collecting 2 minutes and thirty seconds of penalties and playing their joker just a bit too early. The reasons for this insipid performance can only be speculated upon, but one assumes that Malcolm had reverted to type in the big Mercedes Blunder-Bus and had picked up a cab fare, presumably to the Fulda Gap.

By the time the competitors had made it up the final regularity climb, strewn with bicycles, motorcycles, caravans, and a cavalcade of French Mods – who had been cheering the rally on all afternoon – the positions had been given a bit of a shake-up. Crosby and Johnson were still leading, but still only by a tiny margin of four seconds over the Binstead’s who were still in second. The big change was for third, with the day’s best performers Dick and Harry Baines now back in contention for a podium, and only seven seconds off the lead. Richard and James Bowser had also done well, climbing to fifth with the second-best performance of the day, with Stephen Hardwick and Ian Riley just behind, after the Liddell’s had suffered during the days regs.

We are now in Spain, and tomorrow is one of the most competitively intense days of the event, with four regularities and two tests across a distance of 428 km. The leaderboard at the minute is tight, but by the end of tomorrow, as we hit the halfway marker, we may have an idea of just who might be in with a chance of triumph when we reach Lisbon in six days’ time.

Buenas noches.


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.