The definition of marathon in the dictionary is a ‘long lasting or difficult activity’, and leg five of the Classic Marathon surely qualified on both parts. With over 400 km covered today, and ten hours or more on the road it was certainly long lasting, and, with 8 regularities to tackle in various different terrains it had plenty of difficulty. A quick glance down the penalties for the leg show the strength of the task faced by crews today, but more on that later.
I’m sure that spirits were high this morning, if not because of the football result the previous evening then certainly because of the glorious sunrise out across the Vigo Bay that greeted everyone as they filtered out to their vehicles. It was an idyllic sight, and a reminder of the power of nature, if there had not been enough reminders so far on this trip. With the penultimate, and longest day ahead though, it remained to be seen who could harness their own powers of navigation to secure success on the day.
By lunchtime four regularities were already under the belts of the crews, as the maps took everyone north in the mixture of terrain that skirted the coast. It wasn’t the prettiest of days, but this was about endurance, not what you could see out of the window. The weather had turned decidedly grey throughout the morning, and the mood amongst the boys in the E-Type also seemed a little glum, as they had continued to drop out of contention with the top two during the morning, and in fact had been over-taken by experienced hands Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan in their Golf.
It was no surprise that they, and others, were dropping seconds, regularity four in particular had an especially difficult start, combining blink and you would miss them turns with incredibly narrow lanes and tricky surfaces. It was catching out plenty of people and resulted in cars heading in all directions as mistakes accumulated and rally traffic split all over the warren of roads in this area.
Mark and Sue Godfrey were having the best of the morning, holding a good command of the maps and of their MG B as they dropped just 19 seconds and closed the gap on Crosby and Pullan in first, although it must be noted that they weren’t exactly having a bad day either.
The afternoon continued to provide ‘difficult activities’, with the marshals communications signalling the troubles of many cars, with missed controls and other such problems and by the time the final regularity was completed, and the end of the day was in sight, I’m sure many were welcoming the chance of some rest before tackling the final day of the event tomorrow.
Before thoughts could turn to far towards that though, the small matter of results on the day needed to be assessed, and they leave the event with a few intriguing battles as crews contemplate the last leg. Marcus Anderson and Matthew Lymn Rose had managed to put their slight blip in form behind them and had recorded an excellent innings in the afternoon, only dropping a further 19 seconds, which was enough to move the pair back into the podium placings, albeit with just 11 seconds back to the duo of Bloxidge and Canavan.
The chasing pack now seem to be cut adrift, with Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage fighting with Benno and Nina Britschgi for fifth spot, although with many in the top ten recording over two minutes of penalties today, the order could still shift about plenty yet.
At the top end of the table there appears to be a two-horse race for the overall win developing, with Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan still leading, but with a slender gap of just 6 seconds, after the Godfrey’s posted the best performance of the day, the only squad with less than a minute of penalties, to close right up on the tail pipe of the eponymous green 911.
There is now just one day for people to get their moving and shaking done to sort out the final order of things, when the caravan of cars returns back to Oviedo tomorrow evening. Before that checkpoint is reached though, there are a further five regularities to conquer, with plenty of opportunities to drop time, and there will no doubt be a sting in the tail somewhere, the question for the crews is where?