What a difference a day makes – 35 little hours.
Endurance rallying, in some of its forms you don’t travel THAT quickly, what you do is travel large distances in old cars and deprive yourself of large swathes of sleep.
That deprivation can go two ways, it can make you feel deliriously happy and the adrenaline kicks in, or it can leave you feeling like you’ve been run over by a train, a very big one with heavy boots. We’ve experienced both in equal measures and we can honestly say that this has been a truly epic adventure.
Leaving Calais in what seems a lifetime ago, the journey through France has been relentless, even in a modern car, what we have done is fairly extreme, in pre-war vehicles it has been nothing short of magnificent. Magnificent may seem a funny word to use but the camaraderie that has developed between the three crews who have gone for every control on the Classique section is just that.
The Twelvetrees’ Riley Monaco is the oldest vehicle on the event and to see the crowds flock round them when they arrive brings a tear to the eye. The French people adore these old cars and when you tell them the age of the said vehicle, their eyes open wide and their jaws drop.
Leaving Reims, the snow stayed with us for a short while but as we headed south through France, a treacherous, all-enveloping fog that froze the windscreen and got inside your waterproofs chilling you to the bone crept up on us. The visibility at times was between five and ten feet at a maximum, when the sun rose and started to burn the fog away, we breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long as the hazy sunshine turned to rain as we climbed the Vercors, big drops that made the road surfaces incredibly treacherous. Once again, the crowds welcomed us to a normally sleepy French village, I’m generally pretty good with names, but I’m that tired I can’t recall it.
We have about three hours to run and we will be back in Valence, the Classique section conquered. Will we make it? Stay tuned.