London to Cape Town World Cup Rally 2012
The Long Way Down - Against the Clock
Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA- JANUARY 29TH, 2012
Champagne and tears
At last! We finally see the silhouette of Table Mountain… and roll down the long drive lined with palm trees to the Table Bay Hotel - the South Atlantic a pebble throw away. We have made it.
It's an emotional moment. Tears roll down the faces of grown men. The weeks of tension finally evaporates in the hot sun. shrieks of joy from wives and girl friends. Sheer relief from mothers, all combine with hugs and kisses amid the froth of champagne spray. Engines are turned off for the last time.
It's been a tense day - Africa has been throwing surprises in our tracks from the moment we arrived in Egypt. Today, rally leader Steve Blunt, after extending his three second lead into a still slender 38 second margin, ran out if petrol. The gauge was faulty. Minutes ticked by waiting for someone to save the rally leaders.
All the Peugeots lined up alongside each other, crews sat on the roofs shaking hands, camera crews snapped away, as families and loved ones who have not seen driver or navigator for a month threw their arms around grimy shirts that looked as if they have been worn for weeks. The stories and adventures unfolded in South Africa's summer sun and the beer bottles lubricated dry throats, to improve upon the telling.
So, rocky goat tracks in Greece that followed on from dark woods in Kent and muddy tracks of the poppy fields of Northern France. Egypt's Snake Valley, to the thousands that cheered us all the way across Ethiopia, the amazingly rocky track that is Kenya's road to a place called Marsabit …Tanzania's muddy jungle trails …to a country called Namibia, so vast, so open, and so empty, one driver remarked: "Does anyone live here?"
In 14 countries, touching three Continents, driving 14,000 kilometres in 26 driving-days we have, today after reaching Cape Town, experienced an event only made possible by the combined enthusiasm and encouragement of many along the way… Tonight we now gather together for one last time, and cheer those who are taking home a silver trophy.
But, deep down in our hearts, we are all agreed on one thing. All those who drove into Cape Town are very special winners.