Maribor – Ljubljana - 373 km
Again a sweltering hot day when we left Maribor this morning. The traffic signs tell us that Ljubljana is 245 km drive on the motorway yet our route book tells us we are driving 373 km to get to the same destinations.
In the process ERA have planned five time trials and one circuit test for us during the day. In between we drive through the mountains of Slovenia.
It sounds like we are a bit frustrated by this process but one way or another ERA wants to make our last week really difficult as if the past four weeks have not been difficult enough.
Without giving you all the details each time trial is a stretch of closed of mountain road or pass where we have a start and finish.
Average distance is about 10 km per trial. Except that you know that there is no oncoming traffic you can try and go as fast as you can over these often one car wide farm roads. We roar through little mountain villages with 80 km per hour and barrel down forest tracks hoping that the next bend to the left that we see coming is not a hairpin bend because we would shoot straight passed it.
Six of these time trials in one day with an average temperature of 35 degrees is not acceptable.
And we were so right. On our time trial sections we met several cars off the road and when we arrived at the start of the final and sixth time trial are worst fears were confirmed.
Just as we were in line for our start all proceeding were halted and an ambulance and fire engine went on the stage . We had to wait along time until we learned that one of the vintage Bentleys had rolled off the stage. Driver Helmut Rothenberger is injured and his co-drivers seems unhurt.
The stage was duly cancelled and we were asked to find our way to the Ljubljana finish.
Our day and time trials went actually very well as the Pagode works well in these mountainous roads. Its power and good handling make it a nice car for the special stages.
But we are never on the limit as some competitors still are.
I have send a mail tonight to the ERA director Fred Gallaher asking him to slow down the pace over the next few days. Not for me but for the sake of the other competitors.
We are staying in the centre of Ljubljana in a nice hotel –Union- where I have stayed before during a winter trail.
The centre of Ljubljana impressed me in cold January.
Now in high summer this beautiful small[ city with its river flowing through the middle is buzzing. Nice terraces and good restaurants with very good prices. We had a dinner with wine for a price that you would pay for two starters in Switzerland.
The Slovenian countryside is stunning and resembles Tirol in Austria but with much less people. Please come and see it some time!
Tomorrow on to Italy. We have another six! time trials. Lets hope ERA will cancel at least two of them.