Sunday, 15 November 2009

The 21st Nachtrit, a report from the sideline

Last weekend we had the already 21st edition of our Nachtrit. As last year I assisted René with the route. This sadly resulted in me again not taking part, but it could have been worse. This year I did a control run in the dark in early October to check the road book. With Rene as navigator it turned out to be very good fun indeed. The run did show us some little faults in the road book, but also that this year’s edition would be a rather quick one. Despite a few faults and a short diversion we had to work out we managed to get ‘round in well under 5 hours. Looked promising, as does the overall route in Google Earth!

On the day of the event Jos (my usual navigator for the event) and I set of early in the morning for a final check. Mainly to see if there were any road closures or deviations. In the end found only one which was pretty easy to bypass. We were slightly worried for the passage through the villages of Aubel and Theux (due to festivities) but it turned out they didn’t close of the through roads for that.
This final check also gave us a fair indication of the road conditions, which, as usual, could best be described as treacherous! Also the weather conditions were rather appalling with a strong breeze and frequent and heavy rain showers combined with low-ish temperatures. The heavy rain combined with mud from the farmers and the fallen leaves made for very slippery conditions in places!

To name a few of the driving highlights for me, a stage from the Boucles de Spa around Theux;

The stretch between Stoumont and Trois Ponts;

And the stretch between Warre and Hamoir;

Driving the route in daylight gave us the opportunity to admire the scenery a bit, but it also highlighted the biggest problem on the twisty bits. At night it is easy to spot oncoming traffic (by their headlights) but that doesn’t work in daylight. So we had to be a bit more careful there. Another “problem” of driving during the day is of course much more traffic to hold you up! But despite all that is was very good fun indeed, and we managed to get to the start in time so all entrants were up to date when they left.
Again there was a good turnout at the start with a record of 11 Club Triumph teams, a few pictures;

And after the last car drove off into the darkness, we could go inside for a well deserved dinner, and the long wait for the first teams to return. Turned out we didn’t receive any phone calls from lost teams. Only call we got was from a chap in a Porsche who had managed to run into the back of the last team to leave, JM in his TR7-V8. The TR7-V8 had to brake hard for oncoming traffic and managed to come to a standstill despite the slippery leaves. The Porsche driver (who didn’t have a navigator and was trying desperately to keep up with JM) wasn’t so lucky, the ABS cut in with known result. Again proves that ABS under tricky conditions is lethal. The Porsche had to be towed home, the TR7-V8 finished the run under its own power with minor damage to the RH rear wing. Luckily no one was hurt, only the Porsche driver's ego. Remains the question; was the Porsche driver clairvoyant!

Other than that there were no accidents with all teams arriving at the finish safely and most of them on time. Although the run itself was driven in dry conditions (no rain, but still wet roads) it turned out that it was treacherous in places with a hint of frost in the air and ice on the roads. And of course the ever present wet and thus slippery leaves.

After a few well deserved beers it was time for bed. Next morning turned out to be very fine indeed, highlighting the cars battle scars in a rather pretty way!

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