Repeating most of the thousand words that this particular picture could tell would likely cost me my job. Day one didn’t exactly go according to plan, as you can see. As I write these words, we’re languishing dead last: in class, in rally and, I suspect, in the esteem of the good people at Opel who invited us to the Silvretta in the first place.
Yesterday did, at least, pass without accident or incident. But it also passed before car number ‘228’ completed most of the stages and regularities in the schedule. In the one stage we did complete we finished 21st out of 28 in class. Over the day as a whole, though, we picked up 14,000 penalty points – which has got to be some kind of simpleton’s record. The next worst car in the class only has 3000.
Here’s what happened. About 20km into the day’s route, we found ourselves up above 2000 metres, on a road so stunning – and in weather so clear – that photographers Stuart and Luc damn near slipped into an excitement-induced coma. This was Silvrettastrasse. It’s the kind of mountain pass that only romantic poets could really do justice to. And at the time it was lined with pre-war Bentleys and Packards, slightly younger Jaguars and Austins, and one particular 1941 BMW 328, driven by BMW R&D chief Klaus Draeger, which absolutely stole the show. Oh, and there were cows; lovely big ones. With bells on.
Almost three hours passed, with us taking photos and video, before we knew what had happened. The knockout images you’re looking at resulted – and they’ll probably be the best we get. It wasn’t wasted time I’d have spent any other way.
We attempted to drive on and finish the route, but were told ‘you’re too late’ at every turn. The same story at the finish line, where they were actually rolling away the carpet and packing away the stand by the time we rocked up.
As far as the event is concerned, today can’t go any worse. When we get down to the start line in a while, they’ll seal the Ampera’s fuel tank, and our efficiency challenge will begin. There’s no allowance made for vehicle weight unfortunately, so we’ll probably finish near enough last in that too.
The good news is that, after much prodding and poking, I’ve figured out how to use the timer fitted to the car – an instrument that must be more complicated that Magellan’s sextant. We’ll get the hang of these regularity things before the day’s out.