It’s goodbye from Egypt, and hello to Saudia Arabia
Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
Yesterday was the most physically demanding day so far, with numerous cars suffering heavy time-losses stuck in the soft sand between the walls of the canyon that confronted crews at the start of the first desert section. The Egyptians had done away with the need for a carnet-de-passage, which saves time and hassle having more forms stamped, and had also done away with the requirement to have Egyptian number plates – two small reforms since the Egyptian revolution, which have made driving across Egypt a lot easier.
After the hectic time in the Egyptian desert, this was a much more relaxed day with no timing, and the first crews arrived at the end of the afternoon overlooking the sea at Yanbu to take advantage of the remaining daylight to check over their cars. To complete this punishing section in fifth place is a great achievement for the Maestro – which quietly continues to impress as it runs further southwards.
Tomorrow sees us enjoy a late-morning start for Jeddah, where we catch the evening ferry that chugs back across the Red Sea to arrive at mid-day on Thursday at Suakin, where we enter Sudan. But there’s a kick in the teeth for the lady drivers on the event, as it passes through Saudi Arabia.
Gill said, ‘Today and tomorrow are our two days in Saudi and we’re not allowed to drive. Not only can we not drive but we have to wear Abayas and the scenery consists of miles and miles of nothing but sand, oil refineries and camels!’ A ridiculous situation.
In the end, it was two-days of blazing hot driving, that saw the teams drive all the way down to Jeddah, to board a night sailing to Sudan. Several crews took time out along the way to get some servicing done. Greg Newton’s Holden was on a ramp and had an oil change and a check over so thorough that the locals even balanced the wheels. The cost… three hours later? £20. Just about all of us the teams coming away with pockets full of Riyals as motoring here is so cheap it’s hard to comprehend. Locals like American V8 gas guzzlers and monster 4x4s, and why not when a gallon of petrol is cheaper than a can of coke.
Top five overall
1 14 41m 48 1 E Andy Actman GB Andy Elcomb GB 2010 Toyota Hilux 3000
2 23 47m 10 2 E Steve Blunt GB Bob Duck GB 2006 Subaru Impreza 1994
3 17 1h 05m 33 1 D Renger Guliker NL Pim ‘t Hart NL 1985 BMW M535I 3406
4 33 1h 10m 06 1 B Owen Turner GB Matthew Fowle GB 2002 MG ZR 1589
5 15 1h 39m 04 2 B Jane Edgington GB Gillian Cotton GB 1986 MG Maestro 1598