Road to Saigon 2018
4 February - 2 March 2018
MARCH 2, 2018
Mui Ne to Saigon
In a day bookended by more Asian scooter borne madness it was fitting that the Road to Saigon was escorted into the finish at the Liberation Palace - or Dinh Thống Nhất - by a phalanx of Harley Davidson mounted outriders.
Leaving the warm and welcoming Mui Ne coastline was difficult but as this was the last day there was a sense of needing to press on and so we did. The two leaders, Graham and Marina Goodwin and Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt must have felt a certain sort of nervous excitement as they fired up their engines and handed in their time cards for the last time.
There were two Regularities in quick succession today at Dong Giang and Dong Kho but in the event they did nothing to upset the apple cart of results and we duly arrived in Saigon with two maiden ERA winners.
Once the Rally reached Saigon, the cars were marshalled into some semblance of order at the zoo and then led through the streets, boulevards and squares of Ho Chi Minh City by the aforementioned Harley Davidson mounted Saigon Chapter.
This escort led us to the splendid Liberation Palace where local TV were on hand to let the good folk of Ho Ch Minh City know what was happening. A minister from the tourist department arrived to hand out some of the awards and the BBC film crew who’ve been shadowing us for the last three weeks set up all manner of tripods, booms and gibs. There was more than a buzz in the air.
As each car reached the finish line, one of eight elegant and traditionally dressed ‘grid girls’ stepped forward to welcome them and handed them a finishers award, a bunch of flowers, a garland and a welcome cold drink.
Once they’d left the finish area and dropped the cars with the customs warehouse, the fun and games really began at the Gala Prizegiving dinner at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
An Asian buffet par excellence was served up to the Rally and the awards were handed out. It seemed to be the case that almost everyone called up to receive an award had something say. Gerry Crown - an ERA legend and second overall in the Classics category with Matt Bryson, was magnanimous in defeat and generously welcomed the first time competitors to ‘the rally family’.
Marco Halter meanwhile, the winner of the Classics category, acknowledged the importance of this, his first win and declared that he has two hero’s in classic rallying. The first being the very same Gerry Crown and stated that “I wish I can drive as fast as, you when I’m as old as you. You’re a fast driver and a fast drinker”. Gerry was then handed a commemorative T shirt bearing the legend, There’s no such thing as strong beer only weak men.
Marco’s other heroes were Karen and David Ayre who he thanked for bringing their beautiful Itala to the event.
Graham and Marina Goodwin were also visibly delighted with their first place and remarked that it had indeed “been a great event”. They and their Bentley are becoming part of the ERA nomenclature and it’s great that their hard work and dedication has paid off for them.
Their were some discretionary awards presented as well. The Spirit of the Rally went to Russel Jordan and Bill McCrossan for their efforts in the Healey whilst the Against all Odds was taken by Adrian Hodgson and Eric Sia in the Peugeot for battling back to the Rally in Thailand, from Kuala Lumpur.
Following the dinner, it was obvious that the bars and clubs in the central district of Ho Chi Minh City were looking to do some good business tonight.