26
DAYS

The 5th Classic Safari Challenge 2014

1st - 26th  May, 2014

Classic Safari Reports

Safari Diary from Golden Gate - May 5

A long day of 640 kilometres has taken us the to the edge of the Drakensberg Mountains. Driving out from the eccentric delights of the Victoria Manor Hotel has brought us half way up a mountain to The Golden Gate Hotel with dramatic Drakensberg views from every bedroom window.

After a hearty breakfast the Rally pulled out of Cradock and after a long but spectacular day all of the crews made it to the night halt it before darkness shrouded the valley road at 6.00pm. The trouble-stricken vintage Crossley rolled up the drive at 5.00pm, now shorn of its distinctive brass radiator and dark blue bonnet - a garage in Beaufort West having cured the overheating issue by fitting a Toyota truck radiator. With no bonnet and no brass surround the car looks an odd sight, but can bowl along at 60 mph drama-free.

Two timed tests today held on a remote gravel road were successfully run without the hinderance of any local traffic. Open road motoring is truly alive and well and can still be found here in South Africa. The best performance on the first Medal Section in the Vintageants class was once again Bruce and Judy Washinton from New Zealand in their Dodge. As they have already won a gold medal however, the award goes to second best, the Bentley crew of Keith and Nora Ashworth, (you can only win a medal once but that doesn't deter the competitive-minded such as Bruce and Judy). Third was Peter Lambert in a Lagonda, which was later dogged with electrical problems, fixed by roving sweep mechanics  Andy Inskip and Tony Jones.

In the Classics division, the Ford Falcon, a replica of the Monte Carlo team-cars, crewed by Dennis and Kathlenn Varni, growled through the dust clouds blowing in the early-morning sun to post best time overall, the sound of the V8 giving advance warning to those manning the stop watches. Second best was yet again the Porsche 911 of Peter and Zoe Lovett, and third the red and white ex-works BMC 1800, a car that was used as a route-recce car for the 1968 London-Sydney and went on to take second overall on the E.R.A.'s London-Cassablanca, and third on the London-Luxor Trial to the Nile. Driver Bill Cleyndert was complaining of a lack of power this morning but its hydrolastic suspension seems to romp over the ruts and potholes of the dirt tracks with complete composure. Greg Newton in the Opel Commodore was limping on this section with the engine firing on only five cylinders. The problem was diagnosed as distributor issues.

On the second longer test section the Porsche finally overhauled all others, Peter and Zoe Lovett winning the Classic category gold to be presented at tonight's dinner. Peter Lambert and Linda Lotriet collect Vintageant gold for their third place behind Keith Ashworth's Bentley and the Dodge of Bruce Washington, who both have already won.

Syd Stelvio

 

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