Let’s start with an update on the results…
1st. Car. 2 Andrew Davies and Paul Dilley.
2nd. Car. 3 Martin Egli, Thomas Kern and Marc Buhofer
3rd. Car. Daniel and Rabbia Schlatter
1st. Car. 9 Gerd Buehler and Armin Kneupfing
2nd. Car. 8 Hans Wartenweiler and Jean Christophe Gyr
3rd. Car. 7 Paul Michael and John Wakeman
And so in the overall lead is Car 2 of Andrew and Paul…..go boys, go. But…can they be caught is the question? We’ll have the answer in Columbia!
So, it was on a brightish morning that we departed from Cuenca
for our 508km drive to the capital of Ecuador, Quito
. We started the first gravel test at 8.41am, which was 31km long. This test was timed at 35kph, the reason for the relative steadyness of the test was the huge drops off to the side. Enough to make your eyes water! The gravel itself was smooth for most of the test, and we all could see the chalky white road snaking away ahead of us…although at one point, the road did appear to drop off the edge of the world! Fortunately for us, the road turned 90 degrees right and continued around the bend….splendid view, if a tiny bit scary. One short section of the road was a little bumpy where it was not graded to an entirely smooth level, but with a bit of sound driving, we all bumped our way over it, and were happy to see Dave and Neil, our motorbike Marshall’s waving the Ecuadorean flag at us.
The second test was on tarmac and included a cheeky secret check in a tiny village. Some cars navigated this successfully first time, others had to take a lap around the square to get the desired electronic ‘ping’ and avoid getting any additional penalties on their time sheet.
At this stage, we had covered one third of the day’s route, so still had a challenging two thirds to achieve. Some light refreshments were in order, and as we passed through local towns and villages, we could see a selection of delicacies on offer. It was not a good day to be a chicken, guinea pig or whole pig, as these could be seen on a bbq come rotisserie gently cooking on the side of the road. Unsure if any of our number were brave enough to try any.
Pig Cheek Anyone?
For those of a more delicate disposition, there were many fruit sellers, mainly dressed in traditional outfits, offering locally produced bananas, oranges and other succulents. We can confirm the oranges were zingy if a little pippy.
If however, you ever get bored with cars (what, never!), you could consider a train journey? As a suggestion for Mr Michael Portillo
, there are luxury steam trains that run on this line, and is billed as one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world. Our route crisis crossed over the line on several occasions and we were able to use our imagination and google search to see what one of the trains may have looked like…. we may have cheated here?..
Did You See That Train?
X Marks The Train Spot
The last leg of today’s journey took us approximately 100kms along a very fast four lane road. Ecuador is not known for its straights, but on this occasion, we may have found all of the straights in the entire country. As many participants entered the outskirts of the city, the heavens opened…well, we are on the equator, and we had a major tropical downpour, complete with thunder claps and lightning strikes.
Getting to The Marriott Hotel, who were supplying our bed for the night, was a pleasure. The hotel was fabulous, opulent, but welcoming to all, and we arrived in good time for a twilight photo. Quito has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 1978, largely due to its unaltered central square and historic centre.
Room With A View
Rainy City Square
Beautiful Cathedral, Quito.