With yesterday’s finish, we were positive about a good final day, in spite of not having time to give Muddy Boots a once-over…
That is typical of the mad rush that is the Croatia Trophy. No time for anything but a quick beer, dinner, your sleeping bag and then the next morning it’s a scramble for breakfast, grab a roadbook, put on your helmet and you’re back in the bush again!
Just after the start, there’s finally a press point where the ‘Extreme’ and ‘Adventure’ classes converge, and we promptly get stuck on a tree-stump hiding in the shrubs. The photographers click away, delighted with the well-posed shots. Not exactly an intended photo-opportunity but we spend a minute getting the car free and off we go…
Up and over the hill, and then on the way down a steep hill we slide sideways into more bushes, providing yet more photo ops. By now, the press are probably wondering why they’ve been excluded from our adventures.
After that, a very steep rutted track tests our little winch to the limit, as well as testing the patience of the ‘Extreme class’ contestants behind us.
The rest of the stage is very fast (by our standards) with a lot of long steep logging tracks challenging the 200Tdi to boiling point (literally).
After 41km’s while charging along a fairly level gravel road, we suddenly have no steering. A strange sensation at 60 km/h with massive trees either side! Thankfully we manage to stop without hitting any logs, lumberjacks or other contestants.
We investigate to find a 3rd steering balljoint broken in as many days?!? This is a huge mystery but must be something about a Land Rover balljoint wedded to a Nissan Patrol axle. Not exactly a marriage made in heaven it seems…
We install our last remaining spare and called it a day, preferring to head back to camp while we can make it on our own steam. Beaten by fatigue, confusion, inexperience and über-tough conditions. It’s mega disappointing that we’re not gonna be part of the dramatic river finish. But huge congratulations goes out to Rob, Jasper, Peter, Pasqualino, Paul and Mark for finishing!
And thank you for the wonderful comradeship during the trophy. Het was ‘hartstikke gezellig!’