London to Cape Town crews about to leave Europe

| 6 Jan 2012

Just five days after leaving Westminster, nearly 50 rally crews en route to Cape Town have reached Greece and the tough tests and driving conditions are really spreading out the leaderboard and taking their toll on the entrants lists. No surprise with 10,000 miles to cover in just 27 days.

With the numbers reduced to 43 after only the first three days, despite frantic efforts the latest retirement is the French-entered Morgan Plus 8 of Pierre-Henri Mahul and Georges Asperti-Boursin, which snapped its chassis. Mahul said: "Broken in half like barley sugar, very sad. We could have got a Morgan to Cape Town if the route had not come through Greece."

The day five route was super-tough, with 1000m of ascent in the first 100km and then snow and ice near Lake Plastiras. The day ended with an Acropolis Rally goat-track on which Joost Van Cawenberge in a Tuthill-prepped Porsche 911 chalked up best time. Today's action takes in six World Cup sections on classic Acropolis ground before the runners catch a late-sailing ferry for Africa.

Two relative moderns still lead, Turner and Fowle in the MG ZR from Actman and Elcomb in a Toyota Hilux. Top Ladies crew is still the MG Maestro of Jane Edgington and Gillian Cotton in fourth overall, while Volvo and Datsun are dominating the pre-1980 rankings. The 1971 144DL of John Bayliss and Paul Carter (main picture) is in sixth overall, one spot ahead of the 144 of Richard Atherton and Rob Henchoz. Leading Datsun is the eighth-placed 1973 240Z of Grant Tromans and Simon Russell, with Mark Pickering and Dave Boddy's 1970 P510 just behind them.

At the other end of the field Rachel Vestey and Suzy Harvey are back with their MG ZR after earlier traumas,  but now languishing second-last, nearly six hours behind. Even they are in front of poor David Gough and his Peugeot 504, though. As of last night, his engine was out on the lobby steps of the hotel in order to gain the most light for an impromptu rebuild.

Hero of day five was David Spurling in another 504. He lost a wheel on the top of a mountain, but limped on with the use of a garden chain, driving 60km into the arms of the Peugeot 504 Rally Club of Greece, who provided welcome assistance at last night’s service session.

Click here for more reports and full results.

Photos Enduro Rally/Gerard BrownMore pictures from days 3 and 4