27
DAYS

Rally of the Incas 2016

November 13 - December 9, 2016

DAY
1

NOVEMBER 13,  2016

Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata

The Flag Drops

At 9.01 this morning, rally director Fred Gallagher had the solemn duty of waving the cars away from Buenos Aires with the Argentinian Flag. Designed by Manuel Belgrano in1812, the so called 'Sun of May' was just about the only ray of sunshine we saw as the clouds built and the thunder rolled.

Whilst it was Sunday morning and there was no traffic to contend with the heavy rain which ensued gave the crews something else to think about as they by passed the runners taking part in the Buenos Aires marathon and made their way to the autopista which would whisk them out of town and on to the road to adventure.

The first test arrived after 55 km at the Autodromo Mouras a high quality tarmac facility which allowed the crews a chance to blow away any cobwebs which might have gathered after the long journey and the lay over in BA. The rain was still falling heavily though and appropriately enough it was Paul Carter and Vincent Fairclough who arrived in pole position and were first onto the track with their boat tailed Bentley Derby.

It’s fair to say that everyone enjoyed this first foray against the clock, even Lars and Annette Rolner who were unlucky enough to suffer a puncture on the first lap but set to and changed the wheel by the side of the track. Amid all of this splashing, the squealing tyres and the screaming engines Anton Gonnissen and Inge Willemen whooped with joy on the very first bend for their journey here has perhaps been a little trickier than most.

Once clear of the autodromo, the mid-morning time control gave the soggy crew's a chance to take on a hot drink and use the dryers in the 'rest rooms' to dry their hands and whatever else required dehumidifying before setting off once again for the first regularity which was a 35 km gravel run from Interlagos.

The route crossed acres of neatly fenced pampas filled with grazing cows and horses. Luckily the rain hadn't reached this area, so the hard packed clay was still navigable and allowed some to engage in a bit of showboating through the many corners. The likes of Philip and Laurette Macwhirter in their 1969 - Morgan Plus 8 delighted the small crowds of rally fans who lined the route and applauded appreciatively.

By now most of us had worked up quite an appetite and as we progressed down the Ruta Costa Atlantica lined with shacks selling BBQ’d meat, honey and salami our thoughts turned to food. In the event, our lunch at the Estancia las Viboras was a fabulous affair which combined both a delightful setting with superb cuisine. Empanadas and hot salami rolls were followed by hunks of beef cut from an open pit asado whilst a posse of gauchos performed one of their traditional mounted games with two teams of riders and horses circling and wheeling in what can only be described a four legged commotion.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end though but the post prandial run across the swampy pampa humeda which took us to the last regularity of the day at Old Macedo Station made us realise that there’s more to life than eating and drinking especially when the sun is high in the sky and there’s 40 km of gravel to play with.

The drive into Mar del Plata, the biggest seaside resort in Argentina, saw the clouds we’d left behind this morning gathering again though and, as the last cars pulled into the carpark the heavens opened once more with an impressive display of thunder and lightning against the setting sun.

Tomorrow we head to Fangio country with more track time planned and a visit to the museum.

Syd Stelvio

 

 

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