Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018


FEBRUARY 12, 2018

Chumphon to Kanchanaburi

The Longest Day, Every rally has one

Today was a day for some big mile munching and as such it needed an early start, which is why in the soft half light of dawn big steaming bowls of chilli infused garlic and spinach were served to some yawning and blinking crews for breakfast. In some cases it proved just the thing to get them up and running.

From the bustling town of Chumphon we then began the long pull up the busy north / south freeway to the first Time Control at Thap Sakae after 169km. Here the Amazon Cafe did a roaring trade serving up the best coffee we’ve had since leaving Singapore. The espresso machine glowed red with exertion but still the rally came back for more.

It was a caffeine feeding frenzy and within minutes most of us began to enjoy the once familiar sensations of sweating, shaking and heart palpitations. The toilets were busy as well.

More freeway followed on the way to the second Time Control which was another 130km down the road. We passed within 20km of the border with Myanmar, ran along the Pran Puri dam wall, past pineapple fields and sugar cane planantions. A short sharp shower of rain did little to bring down the temperature but did serve to clean the windscreen.

Finally we arrived at the Majestic Creek Country Club which hosted a lunch for us and allowed the vintage cars to park up on the apron to the 18th hole of the golf course in full view of the bar, the clubhouse and the restaurant.

The test just after lunch was aptly named ‘Thai Tee Time’ and it gave the golfers something  more interesting to look at for a few minutes. Jim Smith and Pete Stone, along with Chris Elkins and Gavin Bull had laid out an almost 8km mixed surface circuit, with long straights, sharp corners and many quick changes of direction.

Policemen and marshals had been posted at strategic junctions which let the crews tackle the test as they saw fit.

Another hot and heavy rain shower hit the early runners and Graham Goodwin was seen simultaneously cornering and clearing his windscreen. How much time this cost him is anyone's guess ……

Soon enough though all 28 cars were through the finish line and we began the trek up country once again to the 'From Thaim to Thaim' test at the Kaeng Krachan Circuit. Opened in 2010 this is the longest race track in Thailand and today we had it all to ourselves. For almost an hour the ERA ‘Run What You Brung Trophy’ lit up the 3kms of turns and twists.

Each crew was slated to do three laps although Russell Jordan and Bill Crossan enjoyed it so much in their Healey that they sneaked in an extra one.

Surprisingly, after such a day, the leaderboard for both categories has changed very little. The vintageant class is exactly as it was yesterday. Graham and Marina Goodwin maintain their position at the top with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson in second place and Manuel and Irene Dubs in third.

In the Classic category, Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt are still leading but Amin Hwaidak and Jens Jarzombek are now in second place. Gerry Crown and Mat Bryson didn’t enjoy the track experience as much as they’d have hoped to. A fuel line blockage almost spelled disaster for the big Leyland and its crew. Tonight, after a tense afternoon, they have slipped to third place.

The night halt in Kanchanaburi is at the Dheva Mantra Resort and Spa where we also have a rest day so this evening the crews were well and truly making themselves at home.

Syd Stelvio



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