4×4 Croatia Trophy 2011 stage 3 (Night)

Pitch black, narrow twig-lined tunnels. Branches thwacking off the windscreen. Ducking in the car to avoid getting whipped. No bearings whatsoever

After the Team Trophy day, we had the afternoon and early evening to double-check the car for some small things but couldn’t really find much fault, so settled around the campfire for some tall stories while waiting for our starting time.

They messed up the starting order, so our good result in the Team Trophy counted for nothing and we sat and watched the rest of the Adventure Class disappear into the darkness…

Ten-thirty. Pitch black. Surreal. Narrow bush-lined tracks. It’s like driving in a twig-lined tunnel barely a metre-and-a-half high. Thwacking off the windscreen and we were both ducking in the car to avoid getting whipped. No bearings whatsoever, and with only one headlight working we eventually had no idea where we were…

More cars were lost…

Even more confusion…

Then the big speed and violence from the super-fast ‘Extreme’ competitors that caught us in what seemed like no-time (we had a thirty-minute head start)!

It was very, very slippery out there and some steep slopes that had you swinging like a pendulum on the winch cable as you edged forward with hardly any grip at all. Completely lost and hanging on the winch cable for dear life and hoping the winch gears were still up-to-the-job…

Faster cars appeared in a haze of spotlights and scraped and bumped past us through the narrow trees. Mayhem, noise, chaos. And then deathly silence once again. Crickets chirping. And then more action, more noise again.

We struggled up some slippery and steep hills. By this time, the engine was running hot after being worked so hard, so we stopped for a few minutes to cool it down a bit – as well as to cool Simon down, who was working hard on some seriously steep winch work…

A problem that resurfaced was the clutch. Now slipping very badly. Slipping and a hard pedal as well… At the third checkpoint we asked for the road to camp and returned at around three thirty in the morning.

Disappointed, especially after all the hard work we had done to get as far as we had. The adrenaline and confusion had us enjoying it more and more as the night wore on. We’ll have to check the car in the daylight…

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