Friday 7 July
This year's Cape to Cape Challenge got underway this morning with the first car leaving Nordkapp shortly after 07.00. Competitors have chosen start times which are at least five minutes apart in the priod between 07.00 and 11.00. The weather was not as bad as yesterday but there was a biting cold Arctic wind to wake up the teams as they set off.. The Full Monty team started at 08.45, ten minutes behind a Land Rover Discovery, and 15 minutes behind a Defender, so all the Rover models are running together. Because of the fog John pacenoted the first part of the journey while visiting Nordkapp on Thursday, and this still proved useful for Neil on the twisty road over brows down to Honningsvag. The route to and from the island is via a new road tunnel that is 8km long, goes 200 metres under the sea, and cost 100 million pounds. At the entrance to it we caught the first of a number of coaches leaving the island that slightly impeded our progress. We had done a recce the day before at the same time and did not see a single coach, but today we had about 10 to pass on this first section. Going through the tunnels we discovered that the GPS did not record the time or distance in the tunnels so there is a 14km discrepancy already with the tachograph! On the way down to Alta we had to contend with a Peugeot 306 which was slowing us in the bends and having overtaken it, would then pass us as we keep to the speed limits on the straights. The car had a country identifier RWU which is one none of us recognised. Keeping exactly to the speed limits is proving to be an onerous task already. At one point Neil said he had forgotten what a Montego dashboard looked like as he spent so much of his driving time with his eyes focussed on the tachograph. On the road south of Alta, after less than 300km of driving we caught and passed the only Ladies Team in the event, a team from the Royal Logistics Corps in one of the Volvo V70 XCs. They started nearly an hour ahead of us so we cannot understand why we should see them at all on the trip. One theory is they spent an hour working out how to use the cruise control,(!) a device that would assist us immensely. More likely is that the power steering problem afflicting the car before the start had returned to make the car difficult to drive on the twisty sections. We are aware that our tacho is set about 2 per cent in our favour which will be adjusted for at the end of the event just 1 mph means we will be 1 hour quicker on the whole journey. This means we could catch and pass other entrants but still finish behind them in the results. Neil drove the first section admirably, a six hour 300 mile stint at the wheel, to our first petrol halt at Muonio in Finland. Keeping to the limit all the time demands a hell of a lot of concentration. The petrol lasted slightly longer than planned so that is another bonus, and we are already well over an hour ahead of the schedule we set on Autoroute Express. David is now at the wheel as we approach the Arctic Circle in Sweden, and the weather is again quite pleasant, bright but cloudy so we are not missing the lack of aircon just yet. The two border crossings have helped to break up the journey, as we are required to take photos and change the tacho charts. And we now can speed up to 110kph, but remain mindful of the reindeer that have been wandering in the road rather too frequently in the last couple of hours.
John Dalton

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