Iv’e had to re write this communique because I impetuously deleted it!
So here I go again.
This last day of the rally is now a formality, the travel to Agra to the Taj Mahal where it all ends. A 340km ride on a super highway, apparently the best in all India. A private road. 8 lanes.
So it turned out to be. The first time that what we were told was actually so for the entire rally. It was odd as normally we do not rally on good roads. But this is basically a “slip trip” a fill In day to get us into Agra and under the finish line banner.
But 340 k’s is still a long drive, to be completed by 1.00pm, especially if the start is at 9.00am. And Denise doesn’t do high speed.
It was required that we go through a passage control, fuel up and be at MTC in due time. Not too much fuel as the car cannot contain too much fuel in the shipping container home.
We worked it all out and hit the road.
All the other competitors tore past us in the early part of this trip as the road was good and sort of left Denise in the dust as she sped along at 114 k’s.
The road rolled on out before us, neat new concrete roads, on and on. There were few cars or trucks on this super highway. Amazing. Billions worth of roads yet no users.
Always hot and sticky with windows down we raced forward.
Steve was concerned not only to get in on time but to have sufficient fuel. At this speed Denise was using a lot more fuel and fuel stations were far and few between.
Then as Agra came close and we manoeuvred through the now crowded back roads keeping a close eye on both time and the fuel needle. It was close as suddenly the finish line and blow up banner appeared. Denise coughed whilst Steve cut the ignition and coasted the last few meters to be under the banner. In fact got a couple of bystanders to push.
Photos. Smiles, congratulations.
We were told that the arrival time was not crucial and it didn’t matter if we didn’t clock in?! Huh?
Immediately, after this we coasted down to the hotel a couple of hundred meters to the hotel car park to get our belongings out, and then take the cars to a loading base not far away, so that they could be delivered back to their respective home countries.
Denise wasn’t quite out of fuel so spluttered back up the road ready for transit.
Some time ago before we left Delhi, we had asked Mr Singh to get some more parts for Denise. A rack and pinion steering box, window rubbers, window trims and slides.
I had sent Mr Singh a whatsapp message to be at this hotel in Agra at 1.00pm on Thursday 21.
21? Where did that come from. It was the 11th for gods sake.
So naturally he was not there.
Quick frantic phone calls to ask if he could bring the parts so that we could stow these in the car before the container closed.
He said he would. It would take 4 hours!
Some of the temples surrounding the Taj.
The famous tomb and marble configurations. The marble is a veneer over brick construction, if you want to know. Beautiful to behold!
We then headed into the bar for a well deserved drink. All the competitors slapping each other’s backs, congratulations!
It was abundantly noticeable that for the first time during this rally that competitors had dropped their guard. They became quite pally. Like the race is over, no need to treat you like a competitor anymore. Odd. Or maybe not?
This evening was prize giving night at the final dinner.
Most prepared themselves after long hot showers and cleaning up, to dress up in Indian style clothes. Maharajas. Turbans and special coats and headdress.
One couldn’t recognise these people anymore.
It was fun and we sat down at our tables to watch a film produced by the official photographer, Gerard Brown.
A montage of photos taken throughout the event showing the antics of various drivers and cars in sometime awkward situations. A reminder of some of the difficulties, hardships and funnier moments.
Then onto the prize giving.
Lots of jubilation to those that achieved greatness.
Steve and I were third in our class, and we were awarded a silver medal. We were actually 16th overall.
Not so much to be proud of but, there you are.
So a lovely meal. Much chatter over our experiences with other competitors and the evening wore on to a natural conclusion.
Shaking of hands and goodbyes as the next morning we would all be heading home, some quite early.
This has been the hardest and most tortuous rally that we have undertaken. The degree of difficulty, climatic conditions, road configuration and surface, or the lack of.
A true rally of endurance for car and drivers and navigators.
The highlights were the floods in Shimla and the flight to see Mt Everest in the Himalayas.
The most memorable was the conditions in Kathmandu. Appalling.
Thank you to those that followed our exploits and who made supporting comments. It was always good to get your messages.
Cheers. Signing off now, until the next time.
Steve and Corgi.