The Baltic Classic Rally 2017
28 May - 10 June
JUNE 6, 2017
Liepaja to Kaunas
Another day, another country
Today we arrive in Lithuania, the sixth country on our Baltic grand tour and what a green and pleasant land it has turned out to be. For the second day in a row we enjoyed wall to wall sunshine - and the dust which accompanies it - on the miles of gravel roads we’ve driven over.
After the sweeps party of last night there was a sympathetic start to the day with a straightforward roll out to the first regularity in the woods around the tiny village of Siksni. Following this it was back to the blacktop and through the very much unremarkable border crossing into Lithuania. As with the crossing into Latvia there was no paperwork required and the entire rally sailed through without stopping before turning to a passage control in Gruslauke and regrouping at a time control in Plunge. The coffee and apple cake on offer here was excellent and for those so inclined the hotel also had its own bowling alley.
This short but civilised culinary interlude then led us straight into a set of three closely spaced regularities through stunning rolling farmland before a lunch halt / time control in Kryzkalnis and then, as yesterday a hard charging set of gravel roads which needed some input from both sides of the car to stay on schedule.
Barry Nash and Malcolm Lister however, arrived at the last time control in Kalnujai a little breathless and a little late. Inexplicably for such an experienced crew they’d missed a turning out in the countryside and, unable to make the time back in such a short and challenging section they incurred a penalty and dropped from 14th place to 32nd.
After such a day, the motorway run into Kaunas came as something of a trouble free relief to many, although Margo O’Brien and George Coelho were spotted with the bonnet up on the forecourt of a fuel station. Their Volvo had just been washed and buffed to perfection but was reluctant to start and a vapour lock was suspected. Soon enough though they joined the rest of the pack in the carpark where all manner of cleaning, fixing and fettling was going on.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see Julian Reddyhough and Gus Pope take the start today. They broke their differential yesterday and the Rover P6 is definitely out of the rally.
We’re overnighting in the self-proclaimed party town of Kaunas, but how many of the crews have any energy left to take advantage of the local “amenities” is anyones guess.
Although the top three are still the same in the Classics category, Mike and Lorna Harrison have admitted that they are feeling the pressure. Although they’ve only got a one second deficit over the Claeys / Declercq Datsun, the Grayson / Spinks Escort is charging hard and they’re worried that their lack of power on the tests could cost them a top three position. The Henderson’s 911 though is still leading them all.
The Bentley Boys (and girls) have the same stranglehold on the top three Vintageant spots that they’ve enjoyed for almost a week now and are joined by the newly ensconced fourth placed Clint and Dawn Smith in their Speed Six. Surely the constructors championship is all over now?
Finally, before signing off, we have touching story of human kindness to report. The hotel manager from our stay in Leipaja drove 300 km to deliver Brant Parson’s phone to him as a courier company wouldn’t take it because of its lithium battery.
Tomorrow we’re going to Poland.