The Road to Mandalay

February 1 to February 24, 2015

Day 2 - Desaru to Kuantan

The Rally has arrived at a second beach resort this evening where we are dining under a thatched open-sided restaurant on the edge of a silvery-sandy beach lit by a full moon. Giant rollers that make this place a surfers paradise by day come thundering up to the sand as we tuck into a choice of steak, prawns, beef or lamb kebabs, various fish dishes, or different pastas. It's been a long day...  so we all have a healthy appetite.

Another forest test-section has produced a shakeup in the results table. Cars arrived to start of this challenge just as a tropical downpour sent rivers of water down the track, turning fine gravel and sand into a scene resembling a Kenyan Safari section of muddy murum. Slippery, slimey corners where a car could easily slide into a ditch called for prudence, so the leader of the Classics, Gerry Crown, backed off. Grant Tromans in the second-placed Datsun saw a chance to overhaul the big Leyland P76 and gunned it hard, chalking up a winning time of 8:07, 15 seconds quicker than Gerry. It was enough to snatch the lead of the Classics, now 11 seconds ahead of Australian crew.  The slippery mud with several hills and narrow hairpins suited the Porsche 911 of Peter Lovett, who posted third best on 8:33, with the Beetle of Garrick Staples fourth, ten seconds slower than the Porsche. Roy Stephenson and Peter Robinson began their fight back after axle problems yesterday and posted a time of 8:52.

In the Vintage Category Bill Shields is now under real pressure. He finished the day top of the Vintage leaderboard but faces a strong challenge from the Chevrolet Fangio Coupe of Phil Garratt, the former Peking Paris winner enjoying a good day, posting a third best test-time of 9:40, just two seconds slower than Bill Shields. Bill leads the Category by 17 seconds over Phil Garratt but it was the Alvis of Rudi Friedrichs who snatched best Vintageant with a time of 9:32, six seconds quicker than Bill. With the Alvis settling into the event we can all expect a needle contest as these three drivers scrap for seconds and top honours.

Jim and Tanya Clarke are now fourth, after bad luck struck the Tomlin's Ford V8 Coupe. They slid off the track on a muddy downhill stretch, and clouted a bank. This forced the tyre off the rim and damaged the steering, stranding car and crew mid-test. The car was taken to a local workshop on the back of a truck. David Tomlin was hopeful overnight repairs would see the Ford running tomorrow.

Finally we have to report a road traffic accident involving Daniel and Rabia Schlatter while driving their Bentley on the main road to Mersing - the pair were attended to at the scene by the rally Doctors and taken to hospital, and discharged soon after. They are both now on their way to Singapore, Daniel incurred two broken ribs and Rabia has a broken wrist. A sad retirement for two popular and experienced long-distance competitors.

Syd Stelvio



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