Day 33

Ljubljana to San Martino di Castrozza - 389 km

This last week of the rally is as intense as if we were just doing a one weeklong rally and not one that is already underway for more then four weeks.

The events of yesterday however have brought some sense in the ERA team and this morning we were informed that today we were doing only four time trials instead of the scheduled six and that the average speed of each time trial was brought back from 80 km to 50 km an hour…

Everyone in the rally is shocked about yesterdays accident with Helmut Rothenberger We have been told that Helmut is in a stable condition in hospital with multiple fractures. We wish him a speedy recovery.

We left Ljubljana this morning in still very hot weather conditions but on out way to the mountains and the Italian border the clouds darkened. Our first time trial was in Slovenia and was over 11 km.. Then our route took us through endless mountain passes and winding mountain roads. We passed the Slovenian ski resort Kranskagora before crossing the border into Italy on the way to he Dolomite Mountains.

Round about that time the weather turned really bad with an enormous thunderstorm and at one-stage hailstones as big as eggs.

I was not sure what to do – stop or continue driving- as I feared the hailstones would smash the windscreen. I continued slowly avoiding the streams of water that were flooding the roads.

This weather was obviously the divide between two weather fronts as from then on the weather has been cloudy and rainy and it has been much colder then before. Much better to drive in these cooler conditions though.

There are three more time trials in Italy all on small mountain passes that were closed off for traffic.

Two went well and we stayed within the allotted time. One of them was in thick fog and in some places we had to come to a halt to see if the road was going left or right. However al the competitors encountered the same problem so no complaints about this.

The last 90 km run to our evening stop was again over several mountain passes. With one and a half hour to go ninety km suddenly becomes a long stretch. We made it just in time but it was racing to the end.

For tonight we are in a small hotel in San Martino di Castrozza a small and beautiful mountain village / ski resort. In the Dolomites.

Its enclosed by some impressive mountain ridges and at the moment of writing a big thunderstorm is raging outside my window. The rally is spread over four hotels all in the same street and the rally cars are parked all around the various hotels. I found a spot in the hotel garage for tonight so the Red Pagode is sheltered for tonight.

Tomorrow the long awaited run to St Moritz where Grace, Charlie, Mickey,Maria, Paul and Zou Zou and many other will be to welcome us.

Almost back to civilized life…..

Good night,