Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018


FEBRUARY 11, 2018

Phokeethra to Chumphon

North by North East

After the efforts of yesterday the crews perhaps felt that they deserved a slightly easier run today and, once they’d  opened their route books they saw that their wish had been granted. Partly at least. 

Although todays route was much longer than yesterday, this was going to be a lot more straightforward with only one tarmac regularity to upset the applecart and not so much tricky navigation. From the Andaman sea in the West, we were simply going to make our way North Eastwards to Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand.

Following the 8.00am start and a fine Sofitel breakfast, the first Time Control sprang into view after 128km in the lakeside village of Ban Bang Kan where Jamie Turner and Bob Harrod had parked up next to an outdoor gym which gave them and some of the crews the ideal opportunity to have a quick workout on either the spinning bike, the striding machine or the ever popular pec’ deck. In the space of half an hour this little corner of Thailand transformed itself into Venice Beach.

Some 95 km down the road, the next passage control, at Suk Samran was manned by the Dutch doctoring team of Maud Timmers and Margriet van Unen who, under a haze of high powered deet and suncream, stamped and signed the timecards offered to them before they sent the crews onwards towards a very popular mid morning time control in the Kapoe Coffee hut where the rally was served very some welcome choc’ ices, cakes and coffee. Any benefits derived from the workout at the Turner / Harrod boot camp were quickly lost here. 

Already full of cake, the rally only had another 99km to drive until (another) superb lunch in the family run, La Un Cafe. Banana leaf bowls of noodles were topped with freshly sautéed spinach, garlic and shredded chicken. Whole coconuts were taken from an ice bath and were deftly cut and expertly opened with a parang and served with a straw thereby providing a very refreshing drink, and a delicious desert.

The days Regularity came soon after at Kra Isthmus and comprised 7.5km of combined hill climb and descent on a newly laid, wide and smooth tarmac road.

We were glad to see David Gainer and Kerry Finn manage to get themselves back to running with the pack here, after losing time over the course of the morning with an alternator failure. By the night halt this was going to end up costing them dearly.

Once out of the regularity and with the rally heading towards the final passage control of the day, at Ban Khao Lan, we spotted the sweep team of Jamie Turner and Bob Harrod themselves struggling with a broken trip meter. This was an unfortunate place to lose the ability to measure distance as the last section required some quick changes of direction as it wound through betel nut plantations, banana groves and dozens of small wooden settlements.

Our night halt, the Novotel, on the beach in Chumphon, soon arrived though and after the obligatory spanner checks the rally relaxed poolside with an excellent dinner and digested yet another upset leaderboard.

The Vintageant class still has Graham and Marina Goodwin at the top with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson snapping in second place and Manuel and Irene Dubs in third.

The Classics category though has been shaken and stirred by the David Gainer / Kerry Finn alternator issue as they drop to 21st and almost everyone else shuffles up a notch. Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt are still leading from Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson whilst Amin Hwaidak and Jens Jarzombek have leapfrogged into third spot.

There are more two more tests tomorrow so expect more changes.

Syd Stelvio



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