London to Cape Town World Cup Rally 2012
The Long Way Down - Against the Clock
Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
YANBU, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 10TH, 2012
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Yesterday was the most physically demanding day so far, with numerous cars suffering heavy time-losses stuck in the soft sand between the walls of the canyon that confronted crews at the start of the first desert section.
In the evening we took over the hotel at the Safaga Red Sea resort and tucked into the biggest buffet meal of the event so far. Stories of the highs and lows and frustrations of the day unwound as crews relaxed before leaving to check in to the ferry terminal at midnight. Rapid formalities by the Egyptian fixers soon had us on board for the night sailing to Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians had done away with the need for a carnet-de-passage, which saves time and hassle having more forms stamped, and had also done away with the requirement to have Egyptian number plates - two small reforms since the Egyptian revolution, which have made driving across Egypt a lot easier.
We all slept on board, and awoke to find the ship heading into the sandy beaches of Duba, to be met by the Saudi Arabia Motorsport Federation, who have provided us all with excellent support and encouragement. We parked our cars, clambered onto ancient American school-buses to ride a short distance for immigration formalities, and then we were on the road. The coast road of Saudi Arabia - we are the first ever international rally to cross Saudi Arabia, something the Federation seem very proud of - swept us down to another seaside resort for the night.
After the hectic time in the Egyptian desert, this was a much more relaxed day with no timing, and the first crews arrived at the end of the afternoon overlooking the sea at Yanbu to take advantage of the remaining daylight to check over their cars.
Tomorrow sees us enjoy a late-morning start for Jeddah, where we catch the evening ferry that chugs back across the Red Sea to arrive at mid-day on Thursday at Suakin, where we enter Sudan.