Leg 8 – Plzen – Karlovy Vary

The winners Gijs van Lennep and Iain Tulie make it 2 years in a row as they celebrate under the finish arch in a cold Karlovy Vary to win the Trial Class in the 11th running of the Winter Trial.

After taking the lead from Harm Lamberigts and Arthur Denzler yesterday, they held on to their lead today thanks in part to Job Brouwers, one of the rally mechanics, who worked until 3:30 am to replace their broken trip meter with one taken from Rutger Houtkamp’s Porsche 356, he then drove the final leg without a tripmeter.  As they say, the winner takes it all, because the team prize also went to the Vierhouten pallets team. ( Lennep/Tully – Lamberigts/Denzler – Perridon/Verhoef.)

The winners of the Club class are Rob de Goey and Ton den Uyl in their Alfa Romeo Sud despite making a navigation error on the last regularity.

For Ton, who is the chief marshal for the Tulip Rally, this has been his first Winter Trial. Ton den Uyl was not supposed to be on the Rally, it was only because Jaap Stok had to bail out a week before the event that Ton stepped in.

Rob has done a number of Winter Trials in various cars and this is his best result so far.

The final day today contained a test and 2 regularities, and one control in particular caused a lot of crews a problem. The route set was on a good quality white road, then take the long way round a gravel triangle to the right. Less than half the crews did this, instead 88% of the Club and 22% of the Trial either drove straight past on the white road or emerged from the forest behind the triangle. A lot of 5 minute penalties were collected here.

We saw our deepest snow of the event on the last regularity. A number of cars went off and got stuck and the final 2 timing points were unreachable due to snow drifts.

From there it was a short run into Karlovy Vary for celebrations and the finish Party.

The best for the day totals show that Harm and Arthur were back on form just beating Gijs and Iain by 2 seconds, and best in Club today were Leon van de Kerhoff and Nico Hermans in their Saab 96. This also moved them up to second overall in Club for the Rally.

Leg 7 – Susice – Plzen (trial night leg)

The night leg consisted of 13 time controls and a regularity in a remote area south east of Susice. Total target time for the leg was 4 hours to the finish control in Plzen. Snow and ice were in abundance and for the most part the gritter trucks had not passed by.

Many mishaps happened all night but a key incident occurred between the Trial leaders when Lennep and Tullie were recovering from a wrong slot. As they rejoined the correct route with a tight hairpin turn they got stuck. Iain got out to push but it was too slippery to stand up. Just then Lamberigts and Denzler came down the road and were faced with either hitting Lennep’s Porsche or heading into a snow band. They chose the snow bank and were then stuck for many minutes.

It was the regularity that decided the results and in all only 4 cars did not max out on penalties on this section.

When all the penalties were totalled up Lennep and Tulie were now clear leaders by 21 minutes over Lamberigts and Denzler with Reynolds and Hussey moving up to third and Wignall and Rushforth now up to fourth. Dale and Porter had a great night charging round the full route in the Bentley with all 4 wheels chained. They still hold on to their 8th place.

Leg 6 – Krems – Susice (trial)

            Krems –  Plzen  (club)

Well for the 4th day in a row we have woken up to good snow conditions. Its real Winter Trial weather. Two days ago, the 48 hour car, found that the first regularity for today was impassable due to snow drifts. So Bart headed out early to check it out. No problems, it had been cleared and new snow had fallen over the icy base and then been gritted. Perfect!

The regularity was on and it was more Plot ‘n’ Bash for the navigators with a nice route just south west of Krems. At the start of the day the first 2 places in the Trial, Lamberights’ Escort and Lennep’s Porsche, were separated by just under 9 minutes in penalties. Not for long. While Arthur Denzler had plotted the route correctly, he then missed a loop when navigating his plot. That cost 4min 20 sec early at the last marshal point and a missed logger, total 9 min 20 sec. That put them within seconds of Lennep and Tullie, so the battle was on.

Austria was at its best today with trees heavy in new snow. All the side roads and regularities had plenty of snow and ice for the drivers to play with. Regularity number two was the same as the first for slippery surfaces and great scenery. The route looked simple enough on the map, but picking the correct route out of the snow banks from the side roads and driveways caused some problems and lost time.

After crossing back into the Czech Republic for the lunch halt and a short looping regularity it was off to Locenice for a repeat of the test done at the beginning of last years night loop. This is an Irish style, round the farmyard buildings test and there were plenty of local spectators to see cars sliding all over the place.

From there it was one more regularity before the Supper Halt and the night loop. Same road conditions with some nice steep down hill hairpins to slid down. The finish of the regularity was manned by Colin Francis and Nicky Porter who have been this events 48 hour car.

Having finished the route yesterday they returned today to drive the night loop again as a last minute conditions check and are now lending their hand as Marshals.

Bart joined them to see the first 6 cars come through their control just as it got dark tonight and the pressure on the leaders of the Trial was beginning to show. Harm Lamberigts in the Escort was complaining about having to follow a slow local for 2 kms and Iain Tullie looked very unhappy at having lost his trip meter.

After supper it’s the night loop and it promises to be a good one. While the Trial are out in the newly falling snow, the Club competitors are in Plzen enjoying the delights of the World famous beer that comes from here. They had better not drink all the beer as thirsty Trial crews are due in here just after midnight.

Leaders after Leg 6:

Trial: Gijs van Lennep & Ian Tullie in a Porsche 356 SC
Club: Rob de Goey & Ton den Uyl in a Alfa Romeo Sud

Leg 5 – Brno – Krems

More light snow overnight and still cold meant the cars had to be brushed off and warmed up for the day. The competition today consisted of 5 regularities and 2 tests. Although the main roads were mostly slush the regularities were snow covered and often only the course cars had left tracks. Of course this included a few false ones as well, we can’t make it too easy can we.

After a 90 km drive we left the Czech Republic and entered Austria for the first regularity. Mark had set this one with a map containing 15 letters – A to O, only 6 of which had to be driven through. The resulting wrong slots in 2 particular places caused a lot of the front runners to loose time.

After a nice lunch of veal and schnitzel competitors went straight into a long self start regularity. The route handout for this regularity was only given at the TC just 3 minutes before the start of the regularity, this added some extra pressure and tested the navigators Plot ‘n’ Bash skills. With a mixture of snow free sections and narrow snow covered side loops, it got a lot of cars into trouble. The reason was that the new snow covered sections had ice under the snow. One junction in particular saw a lot of cars fail to make the turn and slide over a small bank into a field, they then left deep tracks as evidence of their attempts to escape.

One casualty in this regularity was the clutch in the Porsche of Eddy Ufkes and Joost Smits. After being towed to a garage by the mechanics vehicle they have managed to get it fixed and are back in the event.

One of our Marshals has also been having a few mishaps over the last two days. Yesterday David and Wendy Brown in their big Volvo 4×4, got stuck on their way to a snow covered control. David claims his Tom Tom took him on a shorter route as he tried to find his control. They did manage to man their control on time but that message did not reach Bart who almost got stuck looking for him. Today David has hit a large rock and taken out his radiator. A marshal team and the recovery transporter are on their way to them tonight. They may become team Audi marshals tomorrow.

Some results of note:

By the end of the night loop last night Elliot Dale and Richard Porter had got their Derby Bentley up to 8th place in the Trial. A superb result, lets hope they can hang on or even climb higher.

In the Club class Rutger Houtkamp and Willem Le Conge Klein are doing their first event in a Porsche 356B loaned to them by our sponsors Audi. By the end of day 2 they were up to 5th.

Leaders after Leg 5:

Trial: Harm Lamberigts & Arthur Denzler in a Ford Escort MK I
Club: Leonard Stolk & Joost Cohen in a Porsche 911 T

Leg 3 & 4 – Jelenia Gora – Brno

Great snow conditions today with plenty of new snow covering older hard pack. Temperatures below freezing so not much snow melt, all made for some super sections.

The first mishap of the day befell Jayne Wignall and Peter Rushforth. Having lost their Halda late yesterday, Peter was doing a particularly detailed plot and not giving Jayne much help with directions. He nearly crossed back into the Czech Republic before realising the error and by then they were 17 kms in the wrong direction. Despite Jane’s best efforts they were 17 minutes late at the next TC as there was no convenient short cut to get back on route.

The Rally spent the morning in Poland with 3 regularities before crossing back into the Czech Republic for the Lunch control. Again a number of cars left the road and incurred penalties. The Volvo Amazon of Arie van Erkel and Vik Franke spent an hour in a ditch before getting towed out. As a result they were OTL at lunch. Another casualty was the engine in Pit Lindner’s Porsche 914. He retired at lunch and joined team Audi. Another team Audi member today was Bert Ziengs after his clutch gave out on his Jaguar XK 150, and Frans Munsterhuis has retired after a “comming together with a local”.

The lunch halt was in the handicraft museum in Letohrad, a nice venue also used on the Winter Trial a few years ago. As the competitors enjoyed their excellent lunch, the parking lot was full of locals with cameras having a great time looking at the cars.

The rally left lunch via 2 more very snowy regularities and headed for Sternberk. By the time we reached the lower altitude of Sternberk at around dusk, most of the snow had disappeared. However, right on cueue, it started snowing again as the Trial competitors had dinner prior to going out again on a short night loop. So far, crossed fingers, the snow seems to have been following us around so lets hope for another good covering over night.

Sternberk gave us a great welcome from the local motor club. Again spectators were out in force. The cars were parked in the town square which had been especially closed for us and they made a good display with the newly falling snow.

From the town square first the Club crews, on their way to Brno, and then the Trial crews, on the way out to their night loop, headed out of Town via the Ecce Homo hillclimb for a Handling and Manoeuvrability Test. The Ecco Homo hillclimb is one of the oldest competitive motorsport venues in the world and recently celebrated its centenary.

The course opening car has just arrived back in Brno and reports that the night loop has lots of snow on the ground, fog and falling snow. He expects a few tales of wow later tonight when the trial crews get back to the hotel Bar.

A big casualty on the night loop was Michel Perridon who put his Alfa Romeo GT into a field and got stuck. This cost him 25 minutes of his nights penalties and dropped him from 5th to 12th overall in the Trial.

Best on the night leg was Gijs van Lennep and Iain Tullie with 9 mins and 29 secs, that being 2 min 25 secs better than both Leeuw and Kraal and Lamberigts and Denzler.

Leaders after Legs 3 and 4:

Trial: Harm Lamberigts & Arthur Denzler in a Ford Escort MK I
Club: Leonard Stolk & Joost Cohen in a Porsche 911 T

Leg 2 – Chemnitz – Jelenia Gora

Well the forecasters were right! We had snow overnight and woke up to about 8 cms in Chemnitz and a lot more in the surrounding hills. This resulted in a good days competition as all the regularities and driving tests had the extra excitement of new snow. The downside for some was excursions into various ditches, fences and meadows. The Porsche 911 of Roland van Pelt, the Lancia of Michael Stamm and the Volvo of Willem van Santvoort are all exhibiting new dents and gaffer tape in Jelenia tonight.

Today has been busy. Four regularities, 2 tests and 1 (circuit) lap consistency test for a total of 34 controls.

The day started with stranded trucks blocking the road at Zschopau just 20 kms from the start. A last minute instruction from Bart warned crews of this blockage and just said “find your own way round it and have an extra 30 minutes penalty free at subsequent controls”. This was the only option as the course opening car had no time to reccy and set up an alternative route. Every one got past, most stayed on the original route and got through the jam with the help of Rudy acting as traffic cop. Others used different roads and then ran into extra police blockages and diversions. It all made for an interesting start and left cars running on various amounts of delay throughout the day.

The first regularity was through wooded sections and with the new snow on the road and hanging in the trees, the route was very scenic.

The driving test at Most on the driver training area gave new meaning to the word “slippery” as the low friction surfaces were also covered in snow. Much evidence was left of cars straight lining on corners and leaving their tracks in the snow.

Next came the lap consistence test on a snow covered race circuit. This is a very nice track but few could set a high average speed to aim at as they slid and skidded their way round on their first timed lap.

Regularity 2 had a slippery hill climb on a narrow tree lined gravel road, of course covered in snow. We had repositioned the film crew to record the action and they were not disappointed. A number of cars had to chain up, including all the Mark 2 Jags. However the biggest hold up resulted from the DKW of Paul Vermee attempting to put on his incorrectly sized chains. It took him an hour!

The self inflicted penalties award for the day goes to the experienced crew of Jaap and Hansje van den Broek in their Ford Anglia. They just drove straight past, and waved at  the finish marshal on a regularity, thinking they were just some local spectators. That cost them a 5 minute penalty.

Leaders after Leg 2:

Trial: Harm Lamberigts and Arthur Denzler
Club: Rob de Goey and Ton den Uyl

Leg 1 – Wolfsburg – Chemnitz

75 cars left Wolfsburg this morning for the start of the 11th Winter Trial under a heavy sky and light misty rain. The start venue for the Rally was the Ritz Carlton located in the Volkswagen factories Autostadt complex, next to their excellent museums and the 2 20 story high car carrousels used to store new cars as they leave the production line to wait for their new owners to collect them.  The photo is of Gijs van Lennep and Iain Tullie, last years winners, leaving the start arch. Can they do it again in 2011.

The prize for making the start by the skin of their teeth goes to Peter Gottert who bought his Volvo 142 only 3 days before the start of the rally and spent all day prior to getting to scrutenering, in the welding shop getting it stitched together.

The morning’s competition consisted of a lap consistency test on the race circuit and a test on the Kart circuit at Oschersleben. One of the fastest on the Kart circuit was Peter Koeno in a Fiat 124 despite doing an unnecessary stop astride on his second lap.

Although the area was under heavy snow last December when Mark and Timo checked the route, it had all melted and was now flooding the rivers, in some places 7 meters above normal levels. This was particularly disappointing as the Rally was planning to cross the River Saale on the chain tethered Ferry at Wettin. The competitors were required to show their ferry ticket to the next marshal as proof of passage and correct route. The flooded river meant this had to be cancelled.  However this did not stop Hans van Lee and Jos Heymans in their Mk 2 Jaguar. Despite Barts breifing the night before AND a reroute handout, they attempted the original route. When they immersed themselves in 1.5 meters of water they finally remembered that this section had been cancelled.

As a result of the flooding in the area, extra time was then given at the next control which allowed competitors longer for a cup of coffee and a wander around Colditz Castle. It seems much smaller in real life than it appears on film but it is well worth a visit.

The afternoons competition consisted of 2 regularities, and the second one did have a few short sections of snow cover and signs of recent snow fall in the area.

They say never ask a local for directions. Well Willem Maats and Ton van Daal did. However they picked a particularly drunk individual who sent them off in completely the opposite direction. For this they were then 40 minutes late at their next timing control.

Another mishap fell on Michel Perridon who got in trouble on the second regularity as not one but two fuses blew, causing him a vast delay.

The weather forecast for tonight in Chemnitz is for temperatures of 0 to –6 and possible snow. We hope they are right.

Leg 1 leaders:

Trial: Xavier & Serve Maassen, Sunbeam Avenger, 0:02:24
Club: Cooper Goei / Rene Middelweerd, Porsche 911 Targa, 0:05:28