Road to Saigon 2018
4 February - 2 March 2018
FEBRUARY 19, 2018
Chiang Mai to Uttaradit
Back on the chain gang
The Monday morning traffic was heavy today, but luckily we were leaving the city and, as we drove out over the Ping River through a hazy and steamy downtown Chiang Mai, the streets, lined with countless shuttered massage parlours, disappeared into our rear view mirrors and beneath our wheels.
Within 25km, the busy urban sprawl gave way to paddy fields and corn and the day took on an altogether greener and more wholesome aspect.
On the way to the Chae Son National Park we climbed and climbed to a total of 1440m through an incongruous mixture of dense ancient jungle and wide new tarmac and at one point the hills were so steep that the Itala required a bit of assistance from a local with a 4x4 and a stout tow rope.
All of this effort led us to the first Regularity which eased the crews back into the swing of things after their day off. From here it was an easy and picturesque run to the Time Control at Chae Son where they served exceptional coffee which was grown and roasted on the estate. This was indeed rocket fuel and served to give the rally something of a turbo boost for the next leg to the lunchtime Time Control at Ban Mae Mo.
Situated in a roadside cafe the menu of rice noodles and spicy vegetables fairly flew off the hotplates in the general direction of a hungry rally and paradoxically served to sharpen their appetites for the next section, the test at Thai Mout which they attacked with gusto.
Along with Chupon, our Thai fixer who hails from Uttaradit, the Lampang Motor Club had devised a 7km gravel excursion with fast long bends, short changes of direction and a modest jump. This heady mixture brought out the best and the worst (in some cases) of all of the crews. There was some slipping, there was some sliding and there were some heavy landings, but it was great fun with David Gainer and Kerry Finn comfortably leading the aerobatics display.
Once the dust had settled on this high octane section the crews set a more sedate pace for the Passage Control at Bang Phong Salian and from there onwards to the night halt in Uttaradit which sits on the Nan River and, in years gone, by was an important trading port.
The Governor of the Province popped in to say hello and joined us for dinner as John Spiller set to rehearsing a selection of soulful eighties ballads with the local ‘troubadours’ who had been booked to entertain us as we ate. Most of the audience loved the performance although one or two felt that they could have done it better.
As far as the results go, Graham and Marina Goodwin still hold onto top spot in the Vintageant category, Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson are still second and David and Karen Ayre in third.
The Classics category has seen a lot of movement but today remains unchanged, Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt are still leading with Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson in second with David Gainer and Kerry Finn in third.