Day 33 and 34

San Martino di Carrizo to St Moritz 440 km

The schedule for the day to St Moritz with six time trials and many mountain kms to make was ambitious in the first place.

The planned MTC time in St Moritz was 19.18 for our car but in reality we would never have made that time if ERA had not decided to cancel the three afternoon time trials in Italy.

When we arrived at the lunch TC – time control at Molveno we were told that all afternoon timed sections were cancelled and we were to take the most direct route to St Moritz. Well that was good news but it meant we still had 240 km to go . And there is no auto route direct to St Moritz.

We reached the top of the Bernina pass around 18.30 and had an enormous welcome by Grace, Charlie, Mickey, Maria and Paul and Zou Zou . They had been standing at the top of this pass waiting for us in freezing conditions for more then an hour.

Charlie had followed our tracker through Italy all the way to the bottom of the pass so he could calculate roughly how soon we would be at the top. On the way up the pass there was still thick snow on the side of the road from the night before. The road was clear.

After the warm./ cold welcome we quickly decided to drive down the pass to St Moritz and find the Kempinski hotel and bar to warm up.

It is July in Switzerland but it is colder now then at Christmas.
When we arrived at St Moritz we were given a detour through the town centre and an official finish in the St Moritz town square. Many dignitaries and some familiar fares form previous rallies were there.

Then finally to the hotel and whilst the others were warming up in the bar Anty and I took a shower and changed our clothes. We then had dinner at a local restaurant that Grace had booked and had good local Swiss food and Swiss wines. Tom and Femke had joined us for dinner and Tom as always was responsible for the entertainment.

Thanks all for being there! I missed you all and its good to be back.

We know we are back in the civilized world because over the past week or so the prices of food , drinks and fuel have virtually quadrupled. There is a price for living in our world but it is sometimes good to see how the other half lives..

Day 34 St Moritz – to Lausanne 453 km

One more day of competitions.

The morning started grey and wintery and after receiving the normal morning route amendments Anty received a very late amendment about five minutes before our start time. The Albula pass that we would take first was closed because of snow. We were re-routed via the Jullier pass that I know well.

We drove up the pass and it looked like there might be snow as well but it stayed clear all the way and we joined the regular rally route again in Tiefencastle.

Coming down the pass I got a glimpse of Fritz Kleinert our neighbour in Pany waving at us on the side of the road. Unfortunately it was not a good place to stop so we had to keep moving down the road.

Fritz thanks for coming!

Our first time trial was at a small circuit at a driver training centre near Chur. We had to do a lap on a circuit with cones that we had to pass on the correct site. We took it very slow to make sure we did the right lap.

Then to and over the Oberalp pass and to the Furka pass that would take us in to the Rhone valley on the other side of Switzerland.
The pass was high and cold and very misty at the top but our Mercedes likes climbing passes so this one was no problem.
Then we had a time control near Leuk where we could take some lunch.

Our very last TS ‘timed section’ of the day and indeed of the rally was a small off road hill climb called Croix de Coeur. The section is 10 km and brings us over the mountain into the Verbier valley.

We did this time trial in 2013 as well but found it much rougher this time. Yet we lost only a minute over the target time.

However just approaching the top and the finish I spotted one of the Italian Alfa Guilia’s catching me fast. The driver is an Italian rally driver and he drives like a possessed man when his car is running but he has broken the car so many times over the past five weeks that it has been on trailer at least for 10 days. With 800 meter before the finish on the single track he starts to flash his light and he toot his horm to indicate that he wants to pass me. There is nowhere to go and there is no obligation to let him pass. I calculate he is about 48 hours behind us in the overall standing of the rally so why should I take a risk.

At the finish we have a very angry Italian screaming that I should let him pass. I told in him in no uncertain way what I thought .

This to the amusement of the many spectators at the finish.

The whole Alfa team with five cars has been an Italian Opera this rally. At least three of them have spent a lot of time on the back of recovery trucks or in workshops but I bet you that they will be the first ones to arrive at the place Vendome in Paris. This sort of teams should not really be in this type of rallies.

Anyway that was our last time trial of this rally .

We drove down the other side of the mountain through Verbier – which looks more like a town then a ski resort- and then on to Lausanne and the Movenpick hotel on the shore of lake Geneva. The weather is pleasant here and the mood is as if the rally is over.

Tonight we had a drink and dinner with Ernst Verloop the son of Anty’s brother. He lives in Aigle and took the time to look us up in Lausanne. Nice to see you again Ernst.

Tomorrow an other long run to Reims.

Almost there,

Good night,