27
DAYS

Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018

DAY
1

FEBRUARY 4, 2018 

Singapore to Malacca

Singapore Slung

Today was the day when the show finally got on the road and, after the heavy overnight had cleared, we woke to a heavy early morning dampness and a group of kilt clad piper’s which momentarily transported us to Gleneagles and the Flying Scotsman. But then, the strutting and screeching peacocks brought us right back to the tropics.

A sizeable and appreciative crowd had assembled in the hotel carpark and our old friends Bruce Washington, Gary and Carolyn Anderson along with Sia and Eric (with Brumby, the newly restored Rolls Royce) had sportingly turned up to cheer us on our way. Andrew Webster’s family had also turned out en masse which meant that the Chevy Called Caroline could well have been the most well supported car on the start line.

The flagging off, at 9.01am was undertaken jointly by Fred Gallagher and Fernando, the Hotel manager and it was David and Karen Ayre’s Itala which was the first out of the blocks, the rest of the crews followed at precisely one minute intervals

From reading their road books and looking through their map books, the crews knew that ahead of them lies something like 8,600km of top class rally action comprising 20 Tests and 14 Regularities through five amazing countries. Modern high tech cities will give way to ancient towns, steamy jungles to precipitous mountains. No wonder some of them looked anxious.

The fist few kilometres of the journey though were easy ones. Sunday morning is a good time to leave Singapore and we had the excellent freeways to ourselves which meant that we arrived at the border in plenty of time. These same highways and bridges then whisked us over the Straits of Johor and into Malaysia where the real fun began.

The Kulai test for example. This was a short and sharp jungle blast through a dense palm plantation which gave both the driver and the navigator something to do without being too taxing. A coffee halt soon after allowed the crews to compare notes before a run through rural Malaysia to a buffet lunch at the Marina Bay Yacht Club in Mular.

With lunch barely digested then the rally hit the Malacca International race Circuit for two exciting laps of the track before heading into the city and the overnight halt; the Casa del Rio. This charming and luxurious hotel is on the river bank and overlooks the Portuguese old town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonights results then show that Graham and Marina Goodwin are sitting in top spot in the vintageant category after their efforts, with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson in second place from Manuel and Irene Dubs.

Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson head up the Classics from Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt and David Gainer and Kerry Finn.

There’s still almost a month of the rally to run though, so while no-one will be feeling complacent, its possible that some encouragement has been taken from the numbers.

Tomorrow, the show rolls on to Kuantan all of the way over on the East Coast.

Syd Stelvio

 

 

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