Sunday, 14 March 2010

7th Nacht van het Oosten

Yesterday evening saw the start of the driving season, with the by now traditionally Nacht van het Oosten. Initial plan was to take part with 5 teams from our region but sadly two had to pull out before the start of the event. So early Saturday afternoon saw three cars with the usual suspects on board heading North toward the start in Beckum (I again had Rene as my navigator).
Because the rally again is part of the CTH championship, Rutger had some map reading incorporated in the road book (with roadside signs and stamps which had to be collected on the signing-in sheet) and a regularity section. But as we came for the fun of it, we decided to ignore these. So after the traditional Chinese buffet we left just before half past six in the evening, as start number 47. First part of the route were Tulip diagrams without a distance. Sounds difficult but isn’t, especially if you have a SatNav which uses decent maps. And there was a regularity section early in the first section. Luckily the map reading etc. slowed most teams down so overtaking them wasn’t too difficult.

A typical part of the route from the first section;


By the time the road book switched to “normal” tulips we already had a fair number of teams behind us. Sadly at diagram number 3 (!!!) it went slightly wrong. Two identical roundabouts close together lost us well over 10 minutes. The fact that we weren’t the only ones was small consolation. At least it enabled me to have another go at overtaking a TR6, who’s driver thought he owned the road so didn’t have to move over to let faster cars pass him ...
But we were on our way again and the rest of the first section went pretty smoothly, with the car running very well. This couldn’t be said of Rob’s Escort. Just before entering the village of Lonneker we saw Rob’s Escort by the side of the road. First we thought the car was abandoned, but it wasn’t. Turned out that they had lost all lights safe the spotlights. But they had already localised the problem, so not much we could do, but carry on.
Not far from the halt we encountered the next problem on the road, well it was actually beside the road in a fairly deep ditch. Turned out to be an elderly driver (80) who got blinded by the lights of an oncoming car and drove of the road into the ditch. Luckily nobody got hurt. When we arrived at the halt we heard that Rob’s Escort again had developed a problem. Shortly after they sorted the lights, the clutch cable snapped. This was eventually cured with a throttle cable. But as they were still a long way from home, they thought it better to take it easy and head back to the hotel instead of finishing the route;


At the coffee stop we found out that there were only a few teams in front of us. As we hadn’t seen much cars in the last part of the first section I presume a few teams took some wrong turns at various places.

With the coffee finished we set off for the second section. In the first section RenĂ© had made a few small mistakes, but by now he was well into his navigating. He didn’t make any mistakes in the second section. And rather quickly there were no more cars in front of us, we overtook one and the other one missed a left hand turn, giving us the chance to slip past him before he reversed enough to turn left (leaving the spot lights on certainly helped here...). This enabled us to settle down for a relaxing cruise to the finish. To liven it up a bit the car’s rear thought it a good idea to break out while accelerating on a narrow, and as it turned out rather slippery, bridge over the Alte Dinkel;


Luckily the bridge wasn’t as narrow as it looked and the oversteer could be neutralised with a bit of opposite lock. For the rest the second leg was just a nice quick drive through the country, and at exactly 22:30 we were back at the start/finish. As there was no one there yet, we phoned Rutger to tell him we arrived safely and were off to the hotel for some well deserved beers and a little well earned rest for the cars!

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