CAPE TO CAPE CHALLENGE 2000 - Report 6

Sunday 9 July
As night time descended on Saturday night I took over for the twilight stint yet again. We crossed into France at Mulhouse with David making another self-heating meal in the back and Neil co-driving as the rota of duties became routine. A Fiat Bravo driver decided to irritate me by sticking on my tail after we had passed him I was quite happy to become Mr. Angry as this helps me to build up my adrenalin levels that keep me awake!
Neil continued taking the night time section through France, via Lyons. I was rudely awoken from a deep sleep at 03.00 as we stopped for petrol 100 km short of the Spanish border and apparently walked around in a daze not knowing what to do. Now co-driving for David, at the border in the dark we suddenly saw a sign for taking our border crossing photo, and as David slammed on the anchors, Neil fell off the back seat. It was a startling experience, which made it difficult for him to get further sleep. Now I had the early morning shift driving past Valencia, after the pleasure of seeing the sunrise behind us. I handed over to Neil for the mid-day stint that took us inland from Murcia, and by the time we got near Granada he was suffering in the heat without any air conditioning. So I was soon accompanying David, and by this time was starting to get a headache myself thanks to little sleep and a hot interior.
We still had not seen any of our rivals, after 50 hours driving, indeed we could not understand why we had not seen any British registered cars of any kind all the way across France and Spain until we got past Malaga and approached Marbella. We had rung in to the organisers during the morning, to be told that they were aware of only one car ahead of us at the time.
The last 30km past Algeciras was very slow going we were all getting tense and excited about finishing, but the end was approaching very slowly. Fortunately we had done a splash and dash fuel top-up much earlier, or this could have been much worse. Finally at Tarifa, we drove through the town looking for the citadel that was to be our finish goal. At 15.59 CET on our clock we found the car park and clocked in with the organisers, the seventh car to arrive, meaning we had passed up to a dozen cars and not seen one of them! There was jubilation in the ranks as we took photos to mark the achievement.
The navigation had been inch perfect without any wrong slots, and the good old Monty had never missed a beat. Even with 123,000 plus on the speedo it had consumed only half a pint of oil on the whole 3600 mile trip. Indeed it was the new technology that had let us down. Despite all the hype and the millions spent on advertising the wonders of mobile phones, we found that our Cellnet phones could not gain access to any networks in Sweden or Germany (i.e. over half our trip), and while on the move we could not send data transmissions as we seemed to get our connection cut, possibly due to cell to cell transfer problems.
On arrival at the finish venus hotel in Jerez I guess you could say many were amazed at our achievement. Our time of 55 hours 15 minutes is well inside the official record of 56.55, but we may have to have an adjustment made to the time because our tachograph was under-reading. We should have some stories about our rivals soon.
John Dalton

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