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Syd Stelvio Rally Report – Day 21 – Bariloche to Esquel


12 Nov 2022

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them…

It’s easy to forget the outside world when you’re on a rally, you fall within the walls of the rally bubble and the rest of the world ticks by, but there are dates, like armistice day, that should not be ignored, events that should not be forgotten as we enjoy the freedom to explore this continent and country, something we might not have been able to do a mere 40 years ago, lest we forget.

Today was the first day we have really experienced rain on the trip, and the route out of Bariloche was slick under tread and gloomy overhead. It wasn’t very heavy rain, more a very fine rain, the kind that seems fairly innocuous, but somehow manages to get into every crack and crevice and nobody needs a wet crevice in their lives, even if today was on the short side at less than 400 km’s.

It did at least dampen down the dust somewhat, which made life on the three regularities scheduled for the day a little easier, certainly for the marshals that have been breathing the stuff in for the past three weeks! They were particularly thankful for this when car 34 came into view, inevitably sideways but with the usual plume of asphyxiating dust diminished by the rain.

The rain didn’t do anything to dampen down spirits for today’s lunchtime halt, which in a break from the norm was at a heritage steam railway, with a traditionally cooked BBQ lunch for the competitors, complete with Argentina’s answer to Thomas the Tank Engine in steam and providing entertainment, although with the inclement weather it was probably closer to being like something from Ivor the Engine.

Whichever fictional locomotive you wanted to attribute it too though, it was certainly entertaining. I don’t care who you are, nobody is too cool for steam engines, and with the sheds open to look around and plenty of old rolling stock lying about the only shame of it was we needed to get back on the road.

Or at least some of us were getting back on the road, sadly some had been hit with mechanical gremlins and there was a clutch of mechanical issues that couldn’t be solved on the roadside. Bob Harrod + Dana Hradecka had suffered a fairly major dump of oil in Dana’s Porsche 911, which looks to be attributed to the big end going for a burton, which is a huge shame for the ever-reliable crew. Others in the wars were Boris Gruzman + Martin Brauns, clutch failure looking likely to put the silver Jaguar out of action and further clutch issues for Mark Oates + Catherine Fielding, although the Chevrolet Fangio is at least on the operating table and looking likely to be fixed.

The mechanical ailments didn’t end with the day’s competition finishing either, and continued into dinner, with a spectacular chassis failure on one of the dining tables, with the table top being expertly caught by the tables inhabitants before too much damage occurred. Instantly three-diff-Shiv dove under the stricken structure to try and restore some integrity, but with no such luck, although there were some whispers that he was really just harvesting parts for his own next mechanical misadventure.

In contrast with today’s quickfire competition, tomorrow is a long transit day, with a border crossing thrown in for good measure as we leave Argentina and enter Chile. It’s an early start, so forgive me dear reader but I will end this here as I must get some beauty sleep. The action begins again at 06:30 tomorrow morning, as we head for the fourth country on our list.

Syd Stelvio

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