Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Day 22 Eureka to San Francisco 501kms

Finaly our last day on the road!!!

A much cooler start to the day with the covering of the marine layer and a little light drizzle both came as a pleasant change from the last 10 days or so of scorching heat.

I woke feeling a little shabby once more, but I'm sure I was not alone! this seems to be becoming a little bit of habit! - I think I need to return home for a bit of a dry out and let my liver have a rest, if I'm luck I might manage about a week!

The test sections may be over but we still have to arrive in San Fran to clam first place, yesterday was a tough last day with the last three regularities pushing everyone to the limit - some crews using the challenge to climb a little further up  the leader board others finding it really tough and loosing a place or two to other crews who had been nipping at their heels.

Route amendments were handed out as we left the hotel in the morning telling us that the dissision had been made to have the final MTC at the lunch stop, part way along the Pacific Highway - there for ending the rally at that point - phew! What a relief, we could then relax a little rather than have the worry right up to the end in SF.

The mornings drive was fantastic, a little run on highway 101 before turning off and driving through the fabulous Avenue of the Giants for about 31kms, these stunning giant redwoods tower high above you and sit right on the edge of the Tarmac road that twists and turnes between them - majestic! 
We then turned on to the iconic Route 1 "Pacific Highway" to lead us all the way along the rugged coast line and finally into San Francisco, this drive too is quite sensational and should be on everyone's bucket list!

The lunch stop arrived and we could now safely say we had won!
I am genuinely knocked out and really can't quite believe we have done it for a second time. We have been up against some very strong competition and crews that would normally leave us standing - I'm very proud indeed of what we have achieved.

The competition on these rallies is great fun and challenging but the greatest thing of all is meeting all the wonderful people that are part of this new family both competitors and the whole ERA team - our life is richer for knowing you all xxxxx

Day 21 - Reno to Eureka California 601kms

Waking a little shabby today after a fun evening with the Roberts!!!  We made the morning route march to the rally buffet breakfast - the Peppermill Casino hotel is so vast that by the time you find the ballroom where our breakfast was served you had definitely worked up a good appetite - unfortunately the buffet breakfast, like so many other mornings was a great disappointment and hardly worth the effort! but with another long day ahead of us we needed something in the tank to keep us going.

Today's MTC found everyone in a very buoyant mood, maybe due to a relaxing rest day or the excitement that the rally is almost over - only two more days on the road!

The Californian Red woods appeared fairly early on today and once off the main highway we were travelling on lovely twisting roads eventually taking us back onto, sand and gravel, and the first test section of the day! A little nearvous today as we don't want to mess up at this stage of the game.

With hardly a breath of wind today driving through the the trees on the dusty sand track to the start of the regularity was very tricky indeed, the dust kicked up from the dry sand track left a thick blanket behind the car travelling in front leaving less than a 30 meter line of sight! The test was all down hill and very slippery in areas,we did have a few exciting moments when Peter got the little car into the odd drift slide but managed to keep her out of trouble - we are 49 seconds in the lead, so really don't need to jeppodize our position at this stage.
We came in 4 seconds slow and in the circumstances were pleased with that - others made it a few seconds closer but they have everything to gain and we have everything to loose.

Welcome to California

After the test we continued on towards Eureka now back onto Tarmac and travelling through part of the Lassen National Forest and eventually the city of Red Bluff, the birthplace of Tom Hanks.
The afternoon brought us another two regularities on Tarmac and the last tests of the rally - all we needed to do was keep our cool and not make any mistakes, both of us feeling a little sick with anticipation.
Both tests went well although a little slower than our previous result but we were happy with that! All we need to do now is get back to San Francisco with out a problem and with out missing a timing point and the podium is ours!!!!

The last part of the day brought some amazing roads and views as we drove through the Californian Countryside and the South Fork Mountains - roads with sweeps and swoops as we made our way to the coast and The Red Lion Hotel in Eureka.

Arriving at the hotel crews came to congratulate us but we asked that they please leave it until we arrive safely in San Fran - plenty of people had suffered with car issues today, it had been a tough last test on cars and crews and as I've said before in my blog "it ain't over till it's over" we still have 500kms left to cover tomorrow - anything could happen!

Tonight was brilliant! The sweeps and mechanics had decided to hold a car park party out side the hotel after dinner and had invited everyone to join in, by about 8.30 the car park was alive with laughter and excited conversation - a fantastic atmosphere, well done boys xx

Day 20 - rest day in Reno!!!

Car washed, clothes washed now for a bit of R and R

Friday, 26 June 2015

Day 19 - Elko to Reno 585kms

Now running in first place we were the last of the competitive cars to leave the hotel en route to Reno and our hotel for the next two nights - another rest day, which is going to be most welcome!

We continue driving westwards towards Reno and take in more of the vast emptiness of Nevada, a real Wild West landscape with nothing other than low growing clumps of something! covering the dry & sandy terrain.

Little prairie dogs dodged back and fourth across the wide open road trying to avoid any passing traffic, you would think it more sensible to stay clear of the road especially when they have 1000's of acres to roam!

Two challenging regularities today, one on gravel and one on Tarmac 0/1 & 0/2 = 3 seconds in penalties for us in total for the day so quite happy with that thank you very much.
A number of other crews were suffering a variety of problems with either missing Marshall points, arriving to fast or to slow and generally messing up!

We lunched in a place called Fallon and with the temperature by early afternoon reaching 98 degrees, Jerry's Dinner was a welcome break, cold drinks and air conditioning - Bliss!

After lunch we continued on to Reno calling in at Virginia City on our way, the roads and the scenery had now changed drastically and we drove some amazing mountain roads twisting and turning all the way up to Virginia City.
Virginia City is a quirky old fashioned Place sat up in the hills above Reno, with wooden side walks lined with Saloons shops and museums. We enjoyed a bit of a look around and a nice cold Sasperelly before jumping back in to the red hot Porsche for the last few miles into Reno. 

Hot sweaty and dirty we decided to stop of and wash the car before going to the hotel, it would save a job tomorrow.

Arriving at our Hotel Peppermill Casino, we soon realised we were running a tad late and the coach was already ready to take us all to The Reno car museum for a pre arranged viewing and dinner! A quick shower and change and we hopped into a cab to catch up with the rest of the crew at the museum. A fantastic selection of cars on show here with the famous "Flyer" that completed the New York to Paris Great Race back in the 1908 - we had been told all about the car and the race, back in Buffalo at the Pierce Arrow museum, by the great grandson of the winner so it was great to now see the car for ourselves.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Day 18 - Idaho Falls to Elko Nevada - 655kms

Having gone to bed feeling full of anticipation of the comings days and how we would fair against Phil and Kieron in the Lead car, I woke to find that they were now in trouble and unable to leave at the start today almost certainly letting us take the lead! Not the way we would have wanted it to be at all - healthy competition is great but not when you are let down by your car, (Feeling deflated), and very sorry for the boys.
We all signed out in our normal order this morning but as we travelled onwards the boys stayed behind to try and get there car fixed so at least they could finish the rally and hopefully join us at some stage today.

Leaving Idaho Falls we travel past a few miles of decent farm land before heading on to a long straight road cutting through very poor quality flat scrub land with distant bare mountains, I imagine, a little reminiscent of a moon landscape. The fact we are heading toward a place called Creaters of the Moon Monument might have something to do with it!
By 8am the sun was already heating up and showed all the signs of being a very hot day.

After about 100kms of driving through very flat terrain we came to the town of Alco and a place called craters of the moon - a sea of fossilised lava rock with no sign of where the eruption could have started  1000's of years ago

Talk about big country, we have travelled through mile upon mile of wide open space with only a hand full of properties dotted along the way - large heard's of grazing cattle and acres of fresh cut and bailed hay lined our route today

Dropping down into the town of Mountain Home, a good size town in the middle of nowhere and with all the mod cones you could want! The heat now was a stifling 30 degrees, we stopped off for fuel here and found our selves being filmed by the film crew that have attached themselves to the rally over the past couple of days, they have spent most of that time following the Aston Martin of Tina and Alan Beardshaw - so you can imagine the ribbing they have been receiving.

Snake River & Dam - an oasis of green in the middle of this very dry and otherwise baron land scape, the first sign of trees we have had all day.
Dropping down to Duck Vally and a fuel and go site where we spent the next 90 mins,awaiting our out time,on a scorching hot forecourt having a picnic lunch purchased from the adjacent super market - boy we know how to live!

Onto today's rally stage 16kms up a mountain pass - 4 timing spots today ERA are squeezing us now!
We did a good run, but due to the incline should have carried a little more in hand - coming in at 1/1/2/2 slow at each stop.
We have heard reports that the boys are fixed and back on the road but as of the last check point they are already carrying a 1 hour penalty from missing two time sections. It would be great if they got to the Regularity so we could at least have a bit of a competition with those sections alone.

After the regularity we still had another 109 kms on straight roads until we arrived in Elko, and our hotel for the night.

Arriving at the hotel it soon became apparent that we were in a casino hotel so the dollar signs started spinning in my head and I needed to have a bit of a play at the tables - where's my brother Shane at a time like this!!!!

We had a nice supper with friends and then I had to have a few hand before bed to get myself in the swing before Reno tomorrow and a day off from the rally.

The boys have now arrived in Elko and yes we have now officially taken the lead from them! I'm feeling rather sad that it's turned out this way but I guess that's what happens at times during rallies! We still have a few days left and as we all know anything can happen so we need to keep our heads down and not make any mistakes.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day 17 - Transit day through Yellowstone to Idaho Falls 512kms

Being a transit day we had no timing points today so were able to please ourselves as to what time to set off.
Peter and I spent the day with Martin and Oli Hunt and travelled in convoy through Yellowstone and on to Idaho Falls.

We entered Yellowstone through the east gate and travelled South to then leave by the west gate.
We had a couple of good buffalo sightings but that was it for wild, however we enjoyed everything else Yellowstone had to offer in the way of geysers lakes and other wonderful vistas and scenery.

Wyoming - Montana & Idaho all in one day, we even spent some of the journey to Idaho falls following the line of the snow capped Rockies to our left way off in the distance.

Off to Nevada tomorrow and back in Rally Mode - let's see what can be done?

Day 16 - Sheridan to Cody Wyoming 418kms

Today we were given the chance to visit the historical site and battlefield of Little Big Horn and Custers last stand just over the state line in Montana before returning to Wyoming for the only stage of the day and onto our hotel for the night in Cody.
Once again stunning scenary lined our route, I've tried to give a flavour but to be honest the camera does not really do it justic!

Arriving at the battlefield we were able to walk around and learn a little of the history,
Up the hill at the main monument and where Custer met his end we saw the actor Tony Robinson (Baldrick from Black Adder) filming a documentary for the discovery channel. 

After a quick lunch stop it was off to find our regularity section and see if we could close the gap on the boys in the Triumph Stag a little more - ooh the pressure!
A great 14km gravel section through the forestry high up in the Black Mountains. 
Awaiting our slot on the start line the Porsche cockpit is quiet but thoughtful! Trip zeroed, stop watch zeroed we are ready!! The speed is low so no need to panic - precision is what's needed here.
A few little hidden gems along the way as usual but we felt confident we had done ok.
At the end of the section the ideal times were posted, we had managed 0/0/3 so now just had to wait to see what the boys had done.

Leaving the TS we drove down the most amazing twisting and winding road through the black mountains along side a wonderful fast running shell river, stopping off halfway down to see the waterfall and canyon.

Arriving in our hotel in Cody we had a quick turn around as an early chuckwagon supper had been planned before we jumped on the bus to take us to the Rodeo, kitted out in check shirts and cowboy hats all looking quite the part.

Today's results for the regularity were posted! Car 25 is now only 7 seconds away from the lead car and with another 7 test sections to complete before the end of the rally, we have every possibility of closing the gap further if we hold our heads.

Night Night - from a very chuffed navigator and driver