What was the watchword for today? Well, it started as muddy, then progressed to long; in between it was colourful, then finished off with superlative.
Day 4 was long, covering 2 special gravel tests of 34km and 79km. Suffice to say on test one there was mud, gravel, rain, cliffs and hairpin bends. Many, many hairpins-what a splendid road over and across the southern hills of Argentina. covering a grand total of 606km. Truly epic.
The second gravel test was longer but flatter and so ran fast and furious, at one point circumnavigating the small lake Tucuman. The rainfall gave us plenty of opportunities to splash through muddy puddles and fast flowing fords.
The route then took us through, up and then over the Taft De Valli. This tarmac section was tight and twisty in sections as we drove up and into the clouds. We then dropped down into warm sunshine as we drove through the Coloured Canyon, Cafayte – all 100kms of it. Not every participant followed the full route as there was a more direct to Salta for those that needed it. Some crews (cars 6, 2, 4, and 8), clocked up a few additional miles as a local demonstration closed a bridge and necessitated a brief reroute. But as even protesters have to take lunch, they disappeared before the rest of the field arrived.
The Coloured Canyon itself was truly breathtaking, with shades of red and brown sandstone wind-sculpted into weird and wonderful shapes. Although a famous wine making region…. no time to stop and sample, as, if the full route was followed it took approximately 13 hours!
So super well done to 2, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 17 who completed to entire route.
Mechanical issues affected some crews with car 7 the TR4 having gear box mounting and head gasket issues, the Bentley of car 6 had fuel pump failure, and both cars 1, the Buick, and the Volvo Amazon car 8 both having carburettor issues that slowed them down. Sadly the beautiful champagne coloured Ford V8 of car 5 has had to retire, but in true rally adventure spirit the McInerney father and son team are continuing in a modern car. That’s the spirit we like to see!
Today was summed up by Gerd Buehler who said, “ car 9 did the fantastic rally route…..on muddy, muddy, muddy mountain ways”. Well done the beautiful and sturdy orange Porsche.