Rally of the Incas 2016
November 13 - December 9, 2016
NOVEMBER 20, 2016
Bariloche to Pucon
Chile - con carnets
As we predicted it was a difficult departure this morning and the breakfast buffet - as mountainous as the surrounding landscape - was only one of the attractions which we’d miss about the Llao Llao hotel.
Softening the blow of leaving however, was the fact that straight from the hotel was another glorious drive along the lakeside of Lago Nahuel Huapi and then over the crystal clear Rio Lima into the Nahuel Huapi Parque Nacional. On a road lined with the by now familiar vivid yellow broom, we sped past countless fishermen trying their luck with rod and line overlooked by impressive rock towers, buttresses with cypress and pine trees clogging to the hillsides.
The first time control in Confluencia would have been a superb place for a coffee if they'd got the machine working but, without an excuse to linger we pressed on to the first regularity of the day on and ultimately over the mighty Passo de Córdoba. This rolling and loose gravel section in the Parque Nacional Lanin tested the traction of the cars to the very limit on the way up and on the way down, with the big Citroen DS of Dominique Vananty and Daniel Spadini chucking all manner of ’shrapnel’ out from its front wheels as it struggled for grip.
Near the top of the climb at around 1200 m and, close to the final timing point we came across Peter Thornton and David Garrett whose 1939 Ford Coupe was still struggling with an ongoing radiator leak. These guys have been unlucky with this issue but they did manage to limp into the night hotel and are optimistic about getting the problem sorted overnight.
For those still running though, the route blasted down the hill past the Lago Melquina and on to the lunch halt MTC in San Martin de Los Andes on the shores of Lago Lacar and the Sunday lunchtime boulevardiers could hardly believe their eyes as the first few Bentleys throbbed into town. As today was a border day, the first such crossing for the Rally, the days timing was stopped at this point to allow crews the chance to have a leisurely lunch and approach the border at their own pace.
The route to the border however was another treat, smooth tarmac whisked us most of the way, over the Rio Malleo and onwards once more to the Parque Nacional Lanin. When the blacktop ended and we drove through a forest of monkey puzzle trees with a huge snow covered and cloud capped volcano on our left while a herd of wild horses skittered to and fro alongside.
The Argentina / Chile border itself was efficient and thorough. Thanks to our agents on the ground we bypassed the local traffic and took our place in line for the paperwork inspections and the by now commonplace fruit and veg checks which were carried out with the usual efficiency and lack of fuss. Once the passports and carnets had been stamped we were free to start the long easy downhill into Pucon and out night halt at the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel.
As usual, the sweep teams of Andy Inskip, Jamie Turner, Tony Jones and Bob Harrod were on hand in the carpark to help with all manner of mechanical woes from the loose exhaust mounting on Nigel Dowding and Mary Antcliff’s Aston Martin or the fuel filter which needed changing on the big Mustang of Hans Middleburg and Jurgen Grolman. Chuck Lyford had a similar issue with the filter into his carburettor while Graham Goodwin was looking to rewire the alternator once again on his Bentley Super Sports.
Something that looks impossible to repair in the carpark though is the low slung AC 16/80 Sports of Philip Noble and David Brown. As well as a suspension problem there’s now an issue with the transmission and it’s feared that the centre pin has sheared in the differential. The crew are looking at all options including a low loader and a rental car!
Tomorrow we tackle the lava fields of this remarkable country.