The Oast House
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The journey proceeded through Moorish villages to Teruel for a short lunch stop with the countryside changing to vineyards and good fast roads. Looking at the time I realised that should the terrain change then we might be short on time so I told Roger to keep his speed up for as long as possible. Yes we were quickly running out of time to meet our next control and one long hill climb took the minutes away but luck was on our side and we were soon dropping into the small medieval town of Rio Jucar with the houses built into the rock face. Our control was outside the Hotel Jucar and with every second being counted down it was like the old days of racing with myself as navigator hanging in and then out to give traction to the wheels as we four wheel drifted and sped down the narrow road along the side of the gorge.
The remaining part of the day was then spent driving to Ubeda mostly through the night and uneventful keeping up a good average speed of 60 m.p.h. Checking in at the last control of the day The Hotel Melia Confort and after a pleasant meal we eventually got our heads down at 12.45 a.m.
Tuesday saw an early start once again at 6.00 a.m. after just 5 hours sleep. Peter and Bill miss slotted and we were confronted with a major mechanical problem. The bracket that is directly linked to the torque tube and holds the propellor shaft to the chassis sheared. We came to rest adjacent to the Priego de Cordoba road sign and in a geographical area renowned for over 400 miles of olive groves. The problem was to be easily resolved with the replacement part that we had brought with us, but alas the part proved to be too large and a component manufactured for later models of the Austin Seven. With a little inginuity and numerous plain washers we managed to adapt the component to fit.
With this hold-up and the loss of road time this meant that we would not make the only control of the day at 10.30 a.m. thereby not qualifying for the regularity. The cable for the rev-counter then broke and and we then miss-slotted which culminated in us missing the 4.00 p.m. ferry from Algeciras by 10 minutes. With time on our side before the next ferry this allowed us time to service the car, replace the fabric front prop-shaft coupling and have a couple of beers which were definitely called for, eventually embarking on the 8.00 p.m. ferry to Tangiers.
With the clocks going forward 2 hours and a 150 minute crossing we arrived at the customs control in Tangiers along with one other rally car. We were questioned thoroughly, officials jumped all over the car having their photographs taken, our FIVA International Vehicle Identity card and the Morrocan Government official letter granting permission to bring the car into the country was seized. Roger was ushered into a small hut and questioned and our names and details were typed into a computer to see if we were on the wanted list. Eventually we were released and a large chalk mark was scratched across the bonnet, to be told that this would allow us to travel in Morrocco.
We parked up for the night in front of the hotel, to find crowds of people swarming over the car which was rather daunting. We were then greeted by an elderly gentleman in full arab dress wearing an official badge who informed us that he was there to look after the parked rally cars during the night.
The following day with 433 kilometres to travel to Ifrane started off well travelling along the southern Mediteranean coastline. It was rather frightening upon many occasions with both high vertical drops into the sea and no barrier protection along the edge of the just larger than single track roads. This is when as a rally crew one puts ones trust in each other. We then turned in from the coast and headed for the Rif Mountains. It is said that the term 'rif raf' originated from this area. The people are generally poor but very hard working with the children begging along the roadside and the women having curved spinal cords through carrying heavy loads on their backs whether babies or crops from the fields.
We then completed two regularities achieving a commendable 4th place overall dropping only 2 seconds. We were fortunate to only experience one stone being thrown at us but many cars received broken windscreens and body damage from the rock throwing children along the route. One driver in an open Mercedes receiving quite a serious abrasion on his forehead. It also proved to be quite 'hairy' with an MGB going over the edge when driving on the loose. It was retrieved with no damage to car or crew.