The Road to Mandalay

February 1 to February 24, 2015

Day 11 - Chumphon to Kanchanaburi

This was our longest day.  We have knocked off over 500kms and found time to not only drive an excellent timed Test-section, one of the best so far, but also a Regularity test, as well as time out for a long lunch.  And the sun shone. Everyone agrees it’s been an excellent day, as the route included quite a few minor back-roads that has enabled us all to take in the ‘real Thailand’.

Best performance on the Test section, which was over some twisty gravel tracks at the back of the Majestic Hills Golf Resort which hosted our lunch, saw Gerry Crown romp to a time of 6:15, next best in the Classics division was Grant Tromans on 6:40, matched exactly by the Porsche 911 of Peter and Zoe Lovett.

In the Vintageants, Bill Shields was again quickest overall, in a time of 6:59, second Phil Garrett and Kieron Brown, on 7:16.  Daniel Day and Roland Doyle, also in a Chevy, was third best on 8:00 dead.

The day has not been without drama. The Volvo Amazon of Heather and Jo Worth has finally died on us all, after promising to run again – some of us heard it coming back to life at midnight last night after a new piston had been fitted, but alas, the word is that the piston is the wrong size and the engine has cried enough.  The Alvis Tourer of Caroline Greenhalgh had spares for the axle arrive today, with the new navigator who we welcome – Louise Cartledge, an accomplished Bentley driver in her own right.

We saw beside today Keith and Nora Ashworth, sidelined with fuel vaporisation problems, attended to by one of the backup sweep crews, and Hans Ulrich Wartenweiler with his Volvo Amazon, with water pump problems.

On the Regularity test, Stan Gold and Brant Parsons, Porsche 911, got a spot-on zero penalty.  Four lost just one second, David and Jo Roberts, Sunbeam Alpine; David and Hilary Tomlin in a Ford V8 Coupe; Paul and Sandra Merryweather, Mercedes 300SE, and Ludovic Bois and Julia Coleman in their Volvo.

We drove some interesting and varied roads, taking in the sights of very rural Thailand with local farmworkers toiling in the sun harvesting pineapples, rice paddy-field planting, we stopped to visit a Buddha temple, the first of what is promised very many, and ended up chatting to crews in the hectic car park outside the hotel as they got stuck into their service schedules.  The red Chevy Fangio Coupe of Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown was dumbfounding the opposition when he was spotted removing the windscreen wipers for extra aerodynamic advantage and weight loss. Some people clearly are taking the competition too seriously….

Tomorrow we drive to see the Bridge over the River Kwai, and take in Burma Railway museum which featured in the film The Railwayman, at Hellfire Pass, dug by prisoners of war. Some of us are leaving early for this.

Syd Stelvio



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