The Himalayan Challenge
21 September - 11 October 2018
OCTOBER 2, 2018
Rishikesh to Rudraprayag
We were promised an adventure and, so far, the Himalayan Challenge has not let us down. Although this was a short day, it was no less challenging than any of the others which we’ve faced.
Indian road menders are kept very busy by the constantly shifting landscapes and Indian suspension manufacturers must make a good living from this as well.
It’s not everyday that you get to take breakfast on the banks of the Ganges though, the most sacred of rivers to millions of Hindus and as we drank down the chai and tucked into the vegetarian buffet, it was good to think that the Goddess Ganga would be looking after us today.
Our Rally day began at a very civilised 10.00am with a fascinating run through Rishikesh, a vibrant and thriving town with scores of western backpackers rubbing alongside Sadhus and ascetics on the teeming streets. This is a town where religion and whitewater rafting meet head on.
Soon after pulling out of the hotel, we made our first crossing of the Ganges and we entered a Regularity at Pundrasu, where the crews had to negotiate a thickly wooded road with many small water crossings in the Rajaji National Park. When the navigators got the chance to look up from their books, they were rewarded with some excellent views over the water to Rishikesh, and the hotel we’d just left.
Not everyone enjoyed this first section though, Andrew Laing and Ian Milne broke a McPherson strut at about the halfway point and, despite their best efforts there was nothing that they could do. Eventually though it was fixed at the roadside by the sweep team of Andy Inskip and Russel Smith and the crew rejoined and made it into lunch though they have dropped down the leaderboard.
Once out of the National Park it was then onto the main road (the only road) for the run to a mid morning Time Control in Dansara where we shared a small roadside eatery with dozens of hungry pilgrims keen to learn about us, the cars and our journey. The river though was our constant companion for most of the morning and as we bumped through the various roadworks and watched the white water rafting we weren’t sure who was having the wilder ride. It was in one of these sections that saw Brian Shields and Al Colwell tightening a few loose bolts under the hood of their Mustang.
The MTC for the day was also the lunch halt, in the Samrat Resort in Paparasu and the road which led to it was as impressive as the one that took us to the end of the day and our night halt in the remote Monal resort in Rudraprayag. Here we enjoyed a very boisterous evening in another vegetarian, and alcohol free, hotel. The crews appeared to be full of the rally spirit despite this prohibition and while we’ve no idea where they got it from we think that a few of the cars will be riding a little higher tomorrow. Monte Gingery was chief among the instigators of this revelry and proved beyond doubt that he can indeed sing as well as he can drive.
Epic they may have been but the roads have taken their toll on some of the cars and tonight, the carpark was a scene of great industry. Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis’s very sporty Datsun 240Z has now had its ride height raised and has had some air filters fitted. Jamie Turner reckons that these two simple fixes will make all the difference to the way the car handles.
Tony Jones meanwhile was grinding away at the sump guard from Artur Lukasiewicz and Adam Tuszynski’s Chrysler CM 6. His aim was to provide better airflow and improved cooling without sacrificing the protection offered.
Our other Polish crew, Robert Chmielewski and Sebastian Slazynskiin in the next bay, were fitting a new tube into one of their Chrysler’s tyres.
Russ Smith, along with Marc-Philip and Ulrich Zimmerman had set to and re-wired the electric fans on the Volvo Amazon so that it too was better able to cool the engine.
Unfortunately, Philip Lunnon and Michael Draper lost the clutch from their Bentley 4½ Le Mans and are now following the rally in a rental car.
David and Jo Roberts, who battled back to us in Mussoorie after a differential failure, have been delayed yet again. This time, the word is that they’ve broken a trailing arm and are once again looking at their options.
Sadly, Lars and Annette Rolner had to leave the rally yesterday. They were involved in a minor road accident during which, Lars sustained a slight leg injury and now he’s flown home for treatment.
Typically cheerful though, as he climbed into Dr Delle Grimsmo’s vehicle to be taken for his check up he insisted that his fellow Bentley drivers help themselves to his spare tyres. And, in true Bentley Boy style they did.