Saturday, March 25, 2006

10 Countries Run 2005 Day 3 - as published in Club Triumph's "Club Torque"

10CR2005 Car 1 Martin Randle, Kevin Makin, TR7 BRP285S

Day 3 Saturday September 10th

06.45 and we’re making bacon rolls on the campsite – lovely! Then it’s clear everything away, pack the tent in the boot of the TR and get ready to leave.
Something I won’t forget though is that the crew of car 28, the Dolomite Sprint of Jason Chinn/Carl Shakespeare and Colin Wake were playing the Italian Job CD in their car with the doors wide open for us all to hear – magic chaps!

Official duties meant I finally tracked down the Irish crew who were in their beds in a villa, very surprised to see a couple of us walk in, get them to “sign on” and then leave them with their official car stickers and maps.

Next I gave a driver’s briefing quoting extensively from the “Italian Job” myself, reminding all of the lunch halt at Lesa and that I would give another briefing there before the afternoon’s Alpine trial.

Then at last we were on our way again, via Monaco for us as we had cut that out from our route the previous evening. Certainly enjoyed that, driving through the famous Grand Prix tunnel etc before heading out on a motorway towards Genoa. As motorways go this was pretty spectacular as we followed the Mediterranean coastline and swept up and down the hills along with the other crews.

The motorway was certainly worth it as we made Lesa on time for the lunch halt (not like last time when we were all 3 or 4 hours late). Again Alberto had done a great job arranging lunch for us all and most of the crews made it.

This was the place for the second briefing of the day which was done in a rather hurried fashion as I knew we were up against the clock if we wanted to make the Stelvio pass (a major ambition of mine). So, after going from one table to another advising people that if they weren’t at a town called Zernez by 18.40 they should forget the Stelvio we hurried for the door – only to bump into Dave Pearson who I had last seen stuck on the side of a mountain road in Switzerland the day before!

We had no time to ask how Dave had made it to Lesa though as we hit the road again trying to keep to schedule. It became obvious that we couldn’t keep to the route if we were to make the Stelvio so we followed my advice to everyone and cut some out – in this case, the Splugenpass which I have been told since was absolutely amazing. Instead we followed the Swiss roadsigns for Zernez as we thought that would give us the quickest route.

What it did do was take us through the Julier Pass which in itself was a great experience. Kevin was driving this section and at one point there was a Lamborghini Diablo a few cars behind us and it didn’t get past! The scenery was superb though and we really enjoyed the climb up this pass with me looking ahead as far as I could and “calling the bends” whilst Kevin drove really well with the tyres squealing and smiles on our faces.

After that it was full speed for the Stelvio with no time to waste. This is what I love about the 10CR, pushing on all the time with car going well and great roads to drive on. Mind you, it was on this section that with me driving again I noticed a local in a RAV4 about to join the road and I thought “not in front of me you’re not, I can’t be held up”. Well, it must have taken 5 miles of hard driving to shake the RAV4 off!

Finally though, we were at the jumping off point for the Stelvio. There’s a small straight country road that joins the village of Pratto allo Stelvio and we must remember this location for future events as there was plenty of room for us to hold a “control” here if we wish.

Anyway, if you can picture the scene it’s 7.30 PM (20 minutes ahead of schedule) and the light is failing whilst 40+ hairpins lie ahead of us whilst we climb up through cloud – oh yes!

So, off we go with all the lights on including the Cibies and the climb captured on Kevin’s video. Well, he tried to get it all but he held the phone (amazing the technology now, a mobile phone with full sound video camera) outside the sunroof but he had to keep bringing his hands back in to warm them up!

I am sorry but words can’t describe this drive, you have to be there. Having said that, as we went up the Stelvio we realised that there was probably no one else following us as they would have not been able to make it in time. It can be a scary feeling being so far from home, on a mountain pass as it drops dark with no friendly Triumph nutters within 20 miles but then again, it’s all part of the challenge: if you can’t stand a joke you shouldn’t have signed up!

Amazingly though, as we almost reached the top there was another car coming down. Not just another car, it was Chris Shaw in his TR7! There then followed one of those priceless, surreal moments as we sat in both cars just below the top of the Stelvio in the failing light having a short conversation before we both set off again (the next time we saw Chris was at the Nurburging in another 3 countries and 11 hours later).

Finally, however, I achieved my ambition and reached the top of the Stelvio where we parked the car in front of the famous web cam to obtain proof of our visit. We had a quick drink in the bar of one of the hotels whilst I sent texts and phoned my brother and my 2003 co-driver, Mat Wilkinson requesting them to get on the web site and save the webcam photo! From the text message diary page I know that we were up there at 8PM local time but we had set off again by the time the only other car to make it, the excellent Jason Chinn/Carl Shakespeare/Colin Wake crew of Italian Job CD fame set off on their ascent.

When we got back home I found that there was indeed proof as a forum member, “Vinnyfastcar” had saved the photo from the webcam and published it on the forum. Vinny, I don’t know who you are but if you are ever near a bar and I am there, come up and claim your beer!

20 minutes later we leave the nice log fire in the bar and set off again, this time with Kevin at the wheel. It was now fully dark and foggy; this was not a pleasant experience at all following a perilous road down a very high mountainside. Quite early on in the descent I was reading the map and then looked up and all I could see was the lights pointing into nothing. A heart stopping moment as I thought we were going over the edge for a split second!

There then followed a rather surreal few hours getting out of Italy! We had been informed via text message that one pass was closed (north from Livigno) so we aimed for a rather longer way round via “Pass la Stretta” after missing a turn in Bormio. When we got to the border with Switzerland the two guards asked for our passports but were really more interested in the car – after all it was probably the most interesting thing that had happened at the end of a long boring shift. Anyway, with a comment like “Eine Englisher car” and smiles we were waved on our way but I later learned that when Jason Chinn et al arrived at this post the gates were down and the border guards had gone home!

All of these delays meant that midnight still saw us in Switzerland all alone, not having seen another Triumph for hours (all part of the adventure for me).Mind you, we should have been at Feldkirk, Austria which I was particularly keen on seeing – for the reasons why (stop laughing Paul Darbyshire!) you’ll have to wait for the next Club Torque and day 4 of the 10CR.

1 comment:

Cynthia Kennedy Bramhall said...

Wow what an exciting adventure. I really like the way you wrote about this race. I imagine it is enjoyable facing the challenges of racing cross country or across countries as the case was here. I will remember your story, and the pictures will stay in my mind. Thanks for sharing this.