The Road to Mandalay
February 1 to February 24, 2015
Day 5 - Kota Bharu to Georgetown
How about this: A closed-road, full police attendance, smooth tarmac and endless bends.… what more could we ask? In seeking a spot of fun after our first coffee-stop of the day…. all were delivered, for a stonking hillclimb Test up the side of a jungle-covered mountain.
It was a day full of surprises, certainly for Jo Worth at the wheel of a Volvo Amazon, with her mother in the navigator’s seat …. they shot up the hill drifting with perfect lines through the bends to chalk up an excellent time of third overall. Too good to be true? It was then discovered that in their enthusiasm, they had failed to stop at one of two Passage Controls and once a one minute penalty was applied, they tumbled back down to 11th best on the mountain.
We left after a good breakfast for the drive out of Kota Bharu and found ourselves driving through rubber plantations, with workers carving away at the bark to drain the latex sap into little pots, a technique that hasn’t changed since the invention of rubber.
Our Test-section, called The Tour de France as it is used regularly by cycle racers, ran smoothly, and very well supported by local police. It was Grant Tromans who set a best time overall of 5:53, just a second quicker than Gerry Crown’s Leyland, with Roy Stephenson third in the near-standard 240Z, on a time of 6:06, three seconds clear of Peter Lovett’s two litre Porsche 911, the yellow Ford Mustang of Rob Garnsworthy matched the time of the 911.
Rudi Friedrichs set best pace in the Vintageants, on 6:20, no less than 11 seconds better than Chevy for Bill Shields. Caroline Greenhalgh was on 8:13 in the big Alvis Tourer+, the Wilkinson’s Alvis was on 8:36, The prize for the loudest exhaust up the hill saw a united vote in favour of Rod Wade in the battered Ford Crestline, setting a time of 8:26.
So, the overall leaderboard, as we go into our first rest-day at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel on the east-side of Malaysia, reads that Bill Shields has a clear lead in the Vintageants of 28:17 over Phil Garratt’s Chevy, on 29:45, with Daniel Day in third place. In the Classics, it’s tight at the top with Gerry Crown on 24:57, and Grant Tromans in the Datsun on 25:01, total penalties, with Peter Lovett third on 25:24, ahead of the Mustang of Rob Garnsworthy on 28:25.
Several crews decided to miss out on the hillclimb today and one or two are limping… Daniel Spadini has severe gearbox troubles in his Jaguar Mk1 saloon, and hopes a replacement gearbox can now being flown in will solve the problem, Andreas Pohl ran today without second gear in his Mercedes and also has plans for a new gearbox.
Friday is meant to be a rest day in this excellent hotel by the sea – for most, it will be anything but rest as cars are re-fettled for the challenges to come.