Up early Sunday morning after a rally briefing the night before, just reminding us of the rules, regulations, emergency procedures, intro of the team from ERA mechanics, medical team etc. lots of detail and refreshing the memories of those that have partaken in previous events.
An early dinner and bed. Stephen and I surprisingly have had little to drink and we considered it prudent not to prior to the first day of rallying.
We rose around 4.30, down for breakfast and on the road at around 6.10 to the start gate at the Great Wall of China some 78kms away. It had stormed that night with loud thunder and lightning. But the morning was fine and still.
The road was vacant of traffic, which was just as well when we missed a take off from the ring road, requiring a u-turn onto the opposing lane to retrack the course. Only Denise’s driver would attempt such a maneuver.
Good roads and hardly any traffic ensured a safe trip to the start, which commenced 7.30 with Chinese dancing. Drum rolls and a dragon dance. Very traditional.
At the start gate and parking area with the dragon head displayed
Our starting position was as per the car number 48, thus we passed through the gate at 8.38 am and keenly headed off towards Hohhot, some 540kms away.
Little Denise just purred, cruising at 100/205 kms. Effortlessly.
To begin with, the roads were excellent, but this soon changed to back road condition and worse in many instances. Potholes and broken surfaces became the norm, knocking back the speed somewhat. Lots of toll booths and still little traffic permitting passing of slower vehicles easy. These rally organisers know where to find all the shit roads, off the beaten track.
We had been told the night before that a short track-like event in the back blocks of hill country around halfway to our destination.
We weren’t sure what was required but it turned out to be rather a nice short 3.7km event with two stop go’s and finishing astride the line at the end. A winding hilly track that Denise managed very well.
We don’t know how points would be credited but we thought we did well.
Then onward for another158kms to Hohhot and the hotel for the evening.
We got in on time, allowing Steve to make some adjustments to the rear spring hangers. He’s still at it now.
As Steve was attending to this work, a later arrival advised that the track event had been cancelled due to a driving mishap.
Apparently another NZ team driving a Volvo were involved. We hear that they are ok and that with some panel beating the car can be straightened. I hope so. We shall see and report when more is known.
Not many photos today as the navigating and book work didn’t allow time for photos. The countryside was mostly market garden and forestry so nothing to show really.
Tired and ready for a feed and then sleep. The time now is 8.00pm already, so….