Monday, February 18, 2013

The great road to Gisborne

Line up in The Strand, Tauranga
Nearly 200 British cars lined up in The Strand in Tauranga this morning, metal and chrome gleaming in the sun. The energy taken to polish this lot could have powered a large city for years.

1957 Austin A35 Pickup with pedal car on top
Dolphin drain covers in Tauranga
 Admirers and 'droolers' trooped up and down The Strand. With all of those tongues hanging out the street was nearly awash with drool. I hoped it wouldn't block up the drains or pollute the sea too much. Most city streets in NZ have warnings about dumping rubbish down the drains, but the fine City of Tauranga has cute dolphin images on the drain covers as an extra reminder. 

Like our departure from Auckland, there were plenty of admiring onlookers to wave us away.  Throughout the rally there has been small fan clubs on nearly every street corner of every town - cameras rolling, Union Jack fluttering, a zillion thumbs-up signals. When we stopped at a school pedestrian crossing, one of the kids called out "Hey, Miss, toot your horn".  The Rover's blaring two-tone PARP was greeted with whoops of delight.

Ralliers enjoying school kids performance

Whakatane turned on the brilliant welcome that we remembered from the 1997 rally - blazing sunshine, plenty of onlookers (more drool), and the local Intermediate school kids dazzled us with their Maori action songs of welcome.

We stopped at Opotiki for a last top of of the tanks before tackling the winding gorge road to Gisborne. 
Sir Alf filling up his MGB

Madam Rosie as navigator

Brad with his MGB GT

Brad's Dad

What a delight following our team mates in their MG's as they swooped around corners and zipped up and down the hills. It was a warm day and we emulated the 'wind in the hair' feeling by opening all of the vents and windows in the Rover.  Nothing, just nothing beats the freedom of a classic car on a good stretch of road.
MGB handles the corners with ease
The MGs close the gap between themselves and a Jag and, not long after this shot, zoomed past it.
Around 30km out of Gisborne, the exhaust mounting strap broke on Brad's MGB GT. Brad's Dad soon had that fixed with wire. Several other rally drivers pulled alongside to offer additional help. That's the terrific thing about this rally - no one is in too much of a hurry and it is great to know that help and know-how is only as far away as the car behind you.We were on our way again in minutes and cruised into Gisborne right on schedule at 5pm.

As well as Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam MGs, there are a lot of MGs on this rally. At some point we were followed 5 of them, all lined up in a row.  Magnificent. 
Following the MGs
Our Rover/MG team of 6 had a 'slap-up' feed out on the town tonight.  We are fortified and ready for the Gisborne to Napier leg tomorrow.

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