Day 3, the real roads start, the scenery gets less sky & sea and more big & rocky (Adriaaaaannn!, shhhhsss, wrong rally Mr Balboa sir). After a night re-acclimatising to the stillness of a hotel room it was time to head for the hills, using the motorways to get to Pamplona where DG went bull hunting in his aptly prepared Discovery, while everyone else headed off into the beautiful countryside.
The Pyrenees played host to the rally this year, with its gorgeous sunshine welcoming the rallyers to twist and turn along its many miles of undulating roads, with the occasional stopping point for teams to regroup and admire the lakes, forests and mountains.
An ad hoc inter-team get together in a lakeside car park was a pleasant surprise. Trying to leave wasn’t so much fun for the Klargester boys when their Vauxhall Dis-Astra set the tone for their rally when it wanted to be lovingly caressed into action, requiring a crack squad of helpers to bump start it.
Despite its protesting, Steve & Chris got on their way, along with everyone else, heading across the mountain range, heading towards Andorra. Half of the teams stopped to take in the magnificent views from Roda de Isabena, a worthwhile detour.
Climbing into Andorra signalled a switch in climate. While the rally had (almost) exclusive use of the town centre campsite, what it didn’t expect was the evening that followed. Fans of early 90’s rock might have appreciated the cowbell accompaniment, but nobody appreciated the kind of temperature drop that would have had Jon Snow and the Wildlings reaching for their bearskins.
Morning rolled around, plenty of cold and grumpy souls rose from their ice pits ready to get on the road in the hunt for fresh coffee and warm croissants. A brief sojourn into France to take in a bit more of the mountain scenery before heading south again, back into Spain for more of the best roads that the Pyrenees had for us. The roads weren’t enough though, oh no, the mountains gave us many more surprises, like a herd of cows to avoid, or cuddle if you get as close as James Clewer did. Must have been really cold in his tent!
The route descended from the mountains to the coast just north of Barcelona. The morning started at around 0 degrees, the lunch stop in Tossa de Mar was somewhere in the region of 32 degrees, a bit of a change from the morning. Leaving Tossa behind taking the road to Sant Feliu (if you followed the official route, which you didn’t, did you, slackers) led to one of the twistiest and turniest roads ever seen. 40 minutes of constant accelerating, braking, turning left, turning right and asking your co-driver to stop complaining. Stunning.
On the road north, heading for the overnight stop was a brief rain-shower, better described as a monsoon, setting the tone for the following day (more on that later). The motorway schlep up to Narbonne signalled the end of another hard day’s driving, where the luxurious opulence of the next campsite awaited us.
Ok, that last line definitely oversold that campsite. So did the owners of the establishment when we asked to pitch 24 tents there. While the ground wasn’t ideal for ‘tenting’ it was perfect for many other things, just not things we wanted. You got your own showers though!
The bbq was as good as ever, many thanks to chef Hurst and his glamorous assistant Andy, with everyone gleefully consuming beer and beef, discussing the merits of sleeping on concrete, as the big bad wolf threatened to blow our tents down.
As much as he tried, and he tried all night, but he didn’t break our spirit, which was still intact as the journey to Le Mans started.
The weather was not on our side as we ploughed north, it was a mostly wet day, with the odd bit of fog covering up the most famous of landmarks, rendering the appearance of the Millau bridge to be a massive cloud on stilts. Never mind, Le Mans and the party is waiting patiently for our appearance.
What can be said about the Saturday night in Le Mans. Fanstatic. Everyone made it, the fancy dress was mostly amazing, the food was great, the company even better. The scores from the challenges were totted up and winners of the rally were announced, congratulations to the Millenium Falcons on a rally well won. The rest of us will have to ‘shift up a gear’ (BOOM BOOM) next year, on the next installment of the Keyline Rally, with details coming very, very soon!