Road to Saigon 2018
4 February - 2 March 2018
FEBRUARY 5, 2018
Malacca to Kuantan
We started the day with a return to the race circuit we first saw yesterday afternoon and, very quickly we saw that those earlier sighting laps were being put to good effect.
Graham and Marina Goodwin, the overnight leaders of the Vintageant category shot their Bentley Super Sports from corner to corner with the usual taughtness and precision you’d expect from such a machine whilst Christian and Beatrice Collenberg, cajoled their 1975 Range Rover Series 1 through the hairpins and straights with the usual reluctance and squealing you’d expect from such a machine. Whatever the crews drove though they seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.
As the only pioneer car in the rally, David and Karen Ayre’s Itala is, as usual in a class of its own and, whilst at the track this morning, Karen sportingly swapped seats with Rally Director Fred Gallagher to give him a two lap taste of her life in the open air. More used to a harness, a helmet and racings overalls, Fred hung on for dear life wearing only a checked shirt, some chino’s and, a look of what could best be described as sheer ….. amazement.
Once the fun and games at the circuit had ended, the Rally route took us on a West to East lope across the Malaysian peninsula from the southern end of the Straits of Malacca, to Kuantan on the Gulf of Thailand. This was typical Malaysia indeed, far from the tourist trail and the location of the midday time control in Muadzam Shah gave the crews a chance to enjoy a freshly cooked buffet lunch in a typical Malaysian cafe.
After lunch there was some serious off road action planned in the shape of an epic 8km plantation test around Boustead, which proved extremely popular on the 2015 Road to Mandalay event. Three years down the line though the palm trees have grown significantly and today it wasn’t raining either, which meant no sight lines through the palm groves and much more grip. A platoon of local marshals had once again been drafted, in armed with miles of warning tape and two way radios to make this another memorable way to shake up the leaderboard.
There were some troubles along the road today which were sorted out by the trusty sweep crews. Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis’s Alfa had some recurring fuelling issues which were solved by swapping the pump and adding some length to the line into the carbs leading a grateful Anne to declare that; ’those guys are truly magicians’.
Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson’s Chevy called Caroline lost her gears some 20km from the night halt but thankfully it turned out to be a selector linkage problem which was quickly sorted by Jamie Turner and Bob Harrod.
Martin and Renate Hilti’s Mercedes unfortunately didn’t start with us today, they opted to head into Kuala Lumpur to source some new suspension parts with the help of Sia, who’s still with us as we drive through his beautiful country. They should be with us tomorrow night though.
Erik Andersen and Peter Elkington’s Oldsmobile lost an exhaust silencer in the plantation test but Andy Inskip and Tony Jones quickly reattached it once they rejoined the tarmac.
The well appointed Zenith Hotel in Kuantan is where the day's events are being analysed over oysters, tenderloin of beef and a selection of traditional Malaysian dishes and the results board, like the menu, makes for interesting reading.
Graham and Marin Goodwin still lead the Vintageant category this evening with Manuel and Irene Dubs, the winners of last years Classic Safari now in second. Sadly though, after their travails today Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson have dropped to third.
Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt now top the Classics category with David Gainer and Kerry Finn in second, whilst Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson slip to third.
Tomorrow we’re leaving the coast and we’re going climbing, up to the awesome Cameron Highlands to be exact.