Friday November 18, Day-6

Esquel to Bariloche, 378 kms

photograph courtesy Gerard Brown

While 375 kms for today seemed like a short day, the rally authorities made 200 of those kilometers take place over quite rough gravel roads. You can see us blasting along here on one of them at probably 80–90 km/hr. The car’s suspension is incredible we keep doing this at relatively high speed and all is absorbed by the equipment underneath. This is also where the fine dust is entering every aspect of our lives. You can see our windows are closed, even though it is a nice sunny day, temps here in the Andean foothills are around 70–80 degrees by midday and so far all nice and sunny. Now that we are ranked 5th we are the 5th to last car to start and as a result tend to have to overtake many slower cars on our way to the finish. This is an attractive procedure from a rally management point of view, since it keeps the rally “snake” spread out over a much shorter stretch of road. Unfortunately on a day like today with lots of curvy, gravelly mountain roads it means passing in tricky conditions in order to avoid getting stuck behind a group of slow cars. Its interesting to note that even though we push hard on the roads (higher speeds) we only arrived with a few minutes to spare of our due time at the hotel at the end of the day.

After the first of those long gravel roads we end up for lunch at the small town of El Maiten. A town fair had been organized, school is closed and in front of the old rail road station the population is treated to an antique car show and we are having catered lunch behind the station.

Here the old train matching or exceeding a birthdate with some of the cars parked nearby.

Two drivers, in awe with old technology
Town fair right in front of our cars

At the end of the day after two regularities on gravel stretching for 200kms we are treated to a go-kart circuit speed test. Great fun and our maneuverable little Porsche does quite well against the larger heavier cars. We score at 1:17 the third fastest time of the group and faster than most of the 6 cylinder 911’s. As the great enigneering master Hayden Burvill had promised me, when we built the car. We did fine on the regularities getting only 1 and 2 second penalties. One of our friends and close competitors Allan and Tina in their Sunbeam Tiger, were a little too enthusiastic on the last regularity and were unable to stop on the finish line. As a result they got a 1 minute penalty and are now no longer number 4 in the overall standings but dropped to 7th place. We therefore have moved up to 4th overall and 2nd in class. Of course it is still a long long way to go and as the above demonstrates a small misshap a flat tire a little error and the numbers can change dramatically. The competitors in 5 and 6 postition behind us, for instance, are only a few seconds behind. Interestingly as usual the competition is taking place among around 10 cars, the remaining 30 or so are either so far behind that no possibility exists, or they are just having a good time anyway.

Tomorrow is rest day at the famous Llao Llao resort a beautiful old style hotel in the Andes mountains on lake Bariloche with great views and a great kitchen.

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