The Baltic Classic Rally 2017
28 May - 10 June
JUNE 2, 2017
Jyväskylä to Helsinki
Fun and games
Unfortunately it was another cold, damp start today and, unbelievably for June, the thermometer dropped to 2.5° at one point. The open car crews are proving to be real heroes on this event where even some of those in classic cars lucky enough to have a roof are feeling the chill.
Whatever they were driving though and however chilled they were, today was to turn out to be a real rollercoaster of a ride in the rally theme park that is Finland.
Soon after leaving the hotel, the first test at Ruuhimäki set the scene for much of the rest of the day. Birch trees, pine trees, lakes and miles of rolling gravel led us past tumbledown wooden barns and through freshly planted fields where the green shoots of spring were brave enough to show themselves above the jet black earth.
The second test at Puolakka saw us enjoy more of the same with the addition of freshly cut stacks of timber waiting by the side of the road. We might be using it as our playground but this is also a well managed working landscape.
Another hot and hearty lunch was taken at Jämsä and, any signs of hyperthermia slowly disappeared with generous helpings of pork, vegetables and rice laid on by the organisers.
The third regularity of the day was soon after the midday halt at Ouninpohja. This is possibly the most famous rally stage in the world and there were many crews eager to pit themselves against it and the three dimensional roads which this region is famous for.
Part of the section was set as a regularity to give the navigators something to think about and the rest wasn’t, presumably to give the drivers something to think about and both ‘Flying’ Trevor Finn and Lorna Hackett in the big long E Type looked happy enough as they powered up and down this most special of stages.
Some bragging time, a quick coffee and a little bit of car culture was up next as we visited the excellent Mobilia museum alongside Längelmävesi Lake. The Mobilia Foundation is dedicated to Finnish automobile history and the Rally Hall of Fame is one of their permanent exhibitions which drew much admiration from the crews.
The final fun and games of the day came courtesy of a self contained forest stage in Saukkolan and those who’d been inspired by the visit to Mobilia could once again pit themselves against the real thing.
A team of local motor club marshals were on hand to man the stop / go boards and had also strung miles of warning tape along the course. Photographers and rally fans lined the more tricky sections and appreciated the show put on by the likes of Yves Faymonville and Remy Tangeten whose silver and red Mercedes seemed to move more earth than a JCB digger ever could.
Following their exertions here, the crews were treated to coffee and cakes in a snug clubhouse before pointing themselves south to the night halt in Helsinki.
Most off the rally have had an absolute blast today but unfortunately, Charlie and Nellie Bishop have had a difficult day, they lost a piston soon after lunch and their Vauxhall 30/98 is now undergoing a thorough examination and assessment by Charlie himself and the sweeps. As we bed down for the night, the plan is for parts and mechanics to be flown out from the UK tomorrow and the car to be towed to the docks and then on to a workshop for repairs.
Despite the tough day that we’ve had, the leaders of both categories are showing no sign of cracking under pressure. Bill Cleyndert and Jacqui Norman still lead the Vintageants with Graham and Marina Goodwin in second and Lars and Annette Rolner third. Gavin and Diana Henderson are holding on to the top spot in the Classics from Mike and Lorna Harrison and Eric Claeys and Rene de Clercq in third. Jim Grayson and Simon Spinks are now fourth though and charging hard in their Escort.
Tomorrow is a half rest day followed by a sailing to Tallinn and hopefully the Bishop’s will be with us.