After six days, somewhere close to 1000 miles, 26 regularities, 17 tests and what feels like a million incredible views the Icelandic Saga is reaching its concluding act as crews prepare for the final day and the run back into Reykjavik. The arrival at Hofdi House, where Gorbachev and Reagans pivotal cold war meeting took place all those years ago, will complete the circle and signal the finish of the adventure through this land.
Before that though, there is still some driving to do and some sorting to be done. Today was the longest of the rally, just encase anyone was expecting an easy finish as we left the town Akureyri early this morning. The QE2 was docked in the port town yesterday evening, but anyone expecting a cruise was soon snapped out of their reverie as the seven regularities today were conducted on some of the most challenging and boulder strewn roads yet. The views too didn’t abate, despite us dropping into some of Iceland’s lower lands, with the mixed weather wowing us with huge skies as the systems swept across distant peaks.
By close of play today the ever present top two of Turner and Vestey vs. Whyte Sisters were separated by a mere 10 seconds on a day that saw the plucky ‘Stanley’ Standard 10 claw time back on the equally dainty Austin Mini. With five regularities still to go tomorrow, I wouldn’t like to be picking a winner just yet…
Of course whilst those at the top of the pile get a frequent mention, there are class battles going on throughout the field, with HERO’s very own Christian von Sanden leading the scrap in class two, and not a million miles off third place overall as we head into the last day. Phil Burgan and Des Wood sit second in that class currently, in the hard charging Ford Lotus Cortina, with a spirited drive from Emma and Rob Henchoz in third, who have completed the week minus a working started motor. Mind you, rumour has it that Rob could be seen, spanners in hand, picking through the vast array of scrap cars scattered around the Skagafjodur Museum of Transport earlier this morning, whilst all the other crews enjoyed the coffee and exhibits inside.
David and Jane Cottam, driving a Triumph TR4, sit astride the top of Class 3 this evening, whilst stable mates and fellow TR4 drivers David and Edward Liddell occupy third overall in the standings. Far be it from me to say they look safe at the top of their class, and turn fate against them, but with a big gap to second and third they look reasonably safe. Elsewhere it is a similar story in Class 4, with the Escort of Rod Hanson and Clare Grove top of the pops, some four minutes ahead of the Alfa of Richard Leggett and Julian Green but things are a bit closer in Class 5 with leaders Stephen Hardwick and Ashley Bennet having only just over a minute in hand to nearest challengers Patrick and Astrid Liedtke piloting their delightful 911.
Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed in rallying, and who knows what twists and turns tomorrow might have in store. One thing is for certain, the roads that everyone has enjoyed over the past week are some of the finest anywhere, set against the most awe-inspiring of backdrops in a country where the roads are not nosed to tail with traffic. The Saga is nearly complete, but how it will end is still to be determined.
Photos by Blue Passion Photo.