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Thursday, October 15th 2015

Distance - 386,3km, time allowed 8hours

Brutal alarm at 6:15, still sleepy we jump in the breakfast area. Same daily routine now. unpacking, packing, getting ready, charging the various equipments from phone, GPS tracking device to emergency phone.

Again, wonderful large breakfast in this luxurious hotel but so little time to enjoy it.

Briefing today is also very short and during the breakfast I enjoyed discussing with the co-pilot of the Porsche 356 SC, coming straight from Singapore. Also attended last event. Opportunity to discuss again about the dangerous driving aspect in China. He explained to me how the Chief Police handled the manner last year, getting respect of everybody. Good sample of Chinese firm although respectful attitude.

The chief of Police then congratulated all the teams from all over the world about their beautiful cars, then congratulated them on the famous pilots the Italians have, they all cheered and got excited… Then he stopped and asks :
“ Do you know who is Tsing Yao Tang or something like that ? “ ?
everybody stopped and said no.
“Well, he said, she is the first chinese victim of the road and too fast driving”…
everybody stopped quickly to smile, he then continued.
“Do you know the average driving experience in China ? “
3 years he said…
“ I trust you all with your great experience too show the way and be respectful “…

Firm but respectful. Everybody understood.

Indeed, we drive here with a different mindset. We have to adapt. That’s why they change lanes without warnings, suicidal, may I say ! They use the horn all the time, why not ?

This morning, we drive in a not so exciting environment, straight roads, some stops, always straight ahead. no more coal industries though, landscape that makes us think about eastern europe in some way. Indeed, flat lands, don’t seem so fertile, but a few people here and there, with limited tools, playing with the dirt.

The Classic Car Passion driving team started in pole position this morning, leaving the starting grid at 8h13’31”…excited but under great pressure. how can we keep this ? let’s not do any mistakes, be careful with the car, the nice little yellow BMW 2002 tii which drove so perfectly until now.

We cross very often the path of other smiling teams, from the red corvette which changes pilots in the middle of the rally, replaced by a professional, we’ve been told to the nice dutch couple, driving a gorgeous Rolls Royce at a steady but sure pace….

We arrive 1second too early at the first stage. We are puzzled, what’s the impact ? penality ? no penality ? we’ll see later…2 cappuccino later, we get on with the route.

Landscapes changes totally, the trees get greener, we follow now nice curvy roads, flat though, but along canals, large canals where long very long boats are full of sand or other materials i have no idea what they are… The sun shines and we get on with our route. 20 km to go before the arrival and 40 minutes, that should do.

Let’s take some gas as we’ve been told and fill up the tank. We arrive now in more traffic, wow. That was not planned for enough…we bip, we horn, we adapt to the local traffic and zigzag around them, arriving first at every traffic light. Wow, only 5minutes for 4 km, that’s getting really short…the pressure is maximum in the cockpit, I am getting concentrated on the roadbook and Denis is very concentrated on the road as we have limited braking power if indeed one of those motorcyclists, electric, would decide as usual to change suddenly direction. Left, Right, 200m right, roundabout straight, get on the bridge, we speed up, we have the arrival on sight…wow bad surprise, there people who were less interested in the time are blocking our way, I get off the car and run to the arrival to get the precious stamp to get our final time. Disappointment, we are 1m 31s too late…Let’s hope it doesn t jeopardize our position….we’ll see…

in the meantime, we look around, start to drop the pressure and discover the nice Yangzhou State Guest House, gorgeous piece of paradise, surrounded by bridges and water and let’s relax before our 6 pm dinner.

Getting ready on our way to the room, we exchange a few words with the very enthousiastic and lovely couple from Switzerland, driving a Ford A of 1934. They lived a Chinese hospitality experience up close and personal this day, as they needed assistance. They finally found a truck garage as they had an issue with their radiator. They were helped with a smile and as compensation, they only accepted a tablet of swiss chocolate, Toblerone, of course. We wished we could interview everybody as we are sure many experienced similar exchange with the population.

Wow, what a day, smiles on a lot of faces, long drive but happy to be here…

Stay tuned

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