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24 january 2009
Day 0: Saturday
Dear Friends,
We are back on the road again. We decided to drive a day ahead of the start of the rally to the starting point in the Black Forest in Germany. We are staying at the beautifull Schloss Hotel Buehlerhohe near Baden Baden.
Please look it up on internet . Its a real nice location!
We arranged for the No12 356 Porsche to be transported to Germany on a car transporter and Nissan, the official supplier, of the organisation kindlief lend us one of their courtesy cars to drive to the start of the rally. Thank you Bart van Thienen!
We left Holland late on friday afternoon and drove through Germany in bad friday night traffic and horrendous weather.
A lot of rain and hurricane force winds. Fortunately we were in a nice Nissan SUV and made good progress for our 550km journey.
The Hotel in the Back Forest is really nice and comfortable and when we arrived last night we already met with some old friends from last year's rally and some dear friends from the Himalaya Trial.

Its like a small reunion.
Today saturday was a relaxed day with many of the 100 competitors arriving, checking in and having their cars checked for technical control. Again quite a few of our friends from the Himalaya Trial arrived and we gave them the special " Himalaya Veteran " sticker  that we had made to put on their cars. This was greatly appreciated by all.
The Porsche 356 had a final check over by the scruteneers and then we took it for a test ride through the Black Forest Hills to check the trip meter and fill the tank with some petrol. It was beautiful and sunny and freezing day with some snow and ice on the ground.The car and engine feels really good.
The rally organisers promise us a lot of ice and snow. Tomorrow at 8.45 is our start time as no 12 from 98 starters. We are ready to go.
Good night (Anty is already fast asleep when I write this....)

Mick  & Anty

25 january 2009
Day 1 
Dear Friends,
Porsche no 12 had a good day rallying through the beautifull black forest mountains. The day was bright, sunny with a bit of frost but the roads were generally clear of ice and snow.
We started number 12 at 8.41 which was great because all day we arrived at time controls, special stages,lunch stops and finish as one of the the first of the 100 competitors.
After our Himalaya ordeal anything looks easy. The roads are good , there is very little traffic and the people in the villages love a well prepared 356 Porsche.  By the way we are not far from the birth place of Porsche and the 356 model Gmund.
However it was not easy, because today brought us three special stages (regularities) and two circuit tests which were set up by our fellow Himalaya Mercedes competitor Pit Lindner who comes from this region. 
The special stages were tricky but Anty has become a seasoned navigator and although we don't know the results we did not do much wrong.
The two special stages at lunch time were also technical and we were certainly not the fastest but completed both sections correctly.
The Porsche drives very well and is much better prepared then last year when it was still set up for a dessert rally. However, we are still glad we did not take this small car on the Himalaya Trial.
Tonight we are staying at the Steigenberger Hotel in Bad Worishofen which is a nice new Spa hotel in the south of Germany.
Tomorrow promises a bit more cold, ice and snow and the finish will be in Passau on the Danube river. 
So watch this space

Good night,

Mick & Anty




26 january 2009
Day 2
Car no 12 has a nice but tough day rallying on day two of the 2009 Winter Trial.
At breakfast this morning we learned that we finished the first day of the rally in 10th place in the club class with only three and half minute penalty. What a diffirence a year makes. This time last year, after our first ever day of rallying, we lost 25 minutes and even then thought we had done very well. The difference in the top 10 is small, but the top 5 are all really fanatic crews, more then we are. However, after our 6 weeks in the Himalaya Trial we feel and are very relaxed. We know bettter now, that it is about the result at the end of the rally.
By the way its fun to know that our main competitors at the Himalaya Trial, Ellen and Willem Vermeulen in their bright green BMW 1802, were in 11th place last night!
We have just finished the second day and although we don't know the results until tomorrow morning we are sure that today has created mahem in the standings both in the Trial Class and our Club Class.
After the start in Bad Worrishofen this morning we drove straight to the first of three regularity sections (special stages)
We were prewarned that sections of this stage would be very steep and icy and all crews were adviced to fit the snow chains in time before these sections. We did this in time and although the fitting and unfitting of the chains costs time in this stage we drove a good stage. Then there was a connecting route to another special stage where the organizers promised more ice and snowchain sections. What they did not tell us, was  that the connecting route brought us through a small and very ice mountain track. That's were it all went pear shape. Nobody was prepared for a steep, narrow and very icy uphill section. One car went up with no chains and dropped to the left in a ditch, partly blocking the road and stopping many other on the run up the hill. Taking off uphill on ice is somewhat special so within minutes there was a traffic jam of rally cars. Don't forget there are 100! classic rally cars in this event. Fortunately we arrived a bit later and stopped at the bottom of the hill, took the time to fit the snow chains and waited till the cars up ahead got moving again. Well that took more then 20 minutes, time that you can't make up until the lunch. To make things worse the lead Club Class Mercedes Benz ran up the hill with no chains and suddenly found a Volvo stopping in front of him. He could not stop on the ice and the car slipped half a meter on its side in a ditch. That will have cost him his lead in the class.
After the connecting section and lost time we found that the organisers had shortned the second special stage because of too much ice on the track. We handled the second stage very well and  then took the connecting route to our lunch stop  in a ski hotel up a moutain in Mitterskirchen. The route that took us there passed the village of Gmund, which is famous for the fact that it was the birthplace of the Porsche 356. Our no12 Porsche felt very much at home on the local roads .
Because of our lost time in the morning there was no time for lunch. We just clocked out at the lunch stop TC and pinched a few frites from fellow competitors that were having their lunch.
Don't worry about it, because a little later we stopped for fuel at a big motorway petrol station and we had a Bockwurst (Mick) and a sandwich (Anty). We also have the special carbo bars from the Laren Health shop that helped us trhrough so many long days during the Himalay Trial.
The afternoon brought us a nice cross country route passing the Chiemsee, not far from Rosenheim. Nice flowing roads up and down hills with little traffic. Next was a final special stage which happened at sundown.  A real navigators delight and I am fortunate that Anty does his home work well. It was very tricky route with twists and turns, routes through forrest track and some nasty tricks. We had to pass by three special (secret)controls and we found them all!
However, when we arrived at the hotel in Passau tonight we found that many competitors who started ahead of us had not arrived back yet. When some did, it appeared that many got very badly lost during the last test.
The results will be interesting tomorrow.
Anyway a very nice day and allthough we lost time, we did not do anything wrong.
Tomorrow we are crossing the border to the Czech Republic.

Watch this space.

Good night,

Mick & Anty



27 january 2009
Day 3 About Ice, Snow, police and TomTom
It was a very tough and a truly wintery day. I am keeping this report short as we came in late and need our rest for another very tough day tomorrow.
Today started with 2 special stages and a circuit test on a local airfield in Germany and after lunch another two special stages and a special time trial in fresh snow around the houses of a small mountain village in the Czech Republic.
The morning stages were very difficult for the navigators. The first one was made even more difficult because the local police did not think we had a licence to be there. We were stopped and our papers were checked in the middle of nowhere. Later we learned that about 25 other competitors were all rounded up by a police force and held for an hour and a half. The 25 missed this stage, and the second one which we did, and we re-grouped at lunch time. The morning stages were over forest roads often covered in black ice. The 356 often felt more like a bobsleigh than a rally car. Really not very pleasant when you try and stop a car going downhill and nothing happens. We were lucky and came out of the day without damage but other were not so lucky many sliding off the road. Some had some serious damage. No injuries though.

After lunch, we crossed the border into the Czech Republic where the countryside looks more bleak and colourless then in Germany. Again two special stages with a lot of very icy roads  and forest tracks. The day finished in a small mountain village, where each of us had to do a timed lap around the village and an industrial estate in pitch dark and a heavy snow storm. There were a lot of spectators though. 
We got to the hotel at 19.30 and were quite fed up with this long day. Anty did not have a good day in terms of navigation so we made some silly mistakes and lost time in the wrong places. But these things happen we know from experience and they usually get better. Its worrying however that Anty tonight at dinner started asking about a Tom Tom for Sonja. I think its really tough for him..... any way tomorrow is another day and promises to be even tougher, as the rally will takes us through Austria into Slovenia and we heard that there is a lot of fresh snow in this part of the world. So forgive us, but we need to sleep as we have an early start tomorrow morning in the town square of Ceske Budejovice, the Czech town where we are staying tonight.

Good night,

Mick & Anty

28 january 2009
Day 4
Snow, Snow & snow chains
That's the story of day 4 of the Winter Trial. The day started in the Czech Republic, continued into Austria and finished in the town of Maribor just accross the border of Austria in Slovenia.
Another tough day for Team 12. At breakfast we learned that the special stages that we had messed up on day 3 were all deleted because of the trouble with the German police. Result was that instead of dropping in the results we gained a place and started the day in 9th place in the Club class. Remember there are over 60 competitors in this class!
However every day is another one and today was one with so  much snow that the frist two special stages were cancelled due to the fact that even the organiser's 4x4 cars with snow chains could not  drive these stages.
However the connecting routes were equaly challenging and the time limits to get from a to b without penalties were tight to say the least.There was so much snow on the roads that driving faster the 50 km an hour was tricky.
In the morning there was a circuit test at driving center near Gmund in Austria. The track was covered in snow so it was a matter of getting from start to finish without spinning the car.
The lunch stop was high up a mountain pass at a winter resort restaurant. We reached it without using the chains, after that there was special stage which we could only do on chains. 
Although we did not reach the target average speed (50km) on these snow covered mountain tracks, we did complete it in the right order and lost little time.
The second special stage of the afternoon was on same type of mountain roads covered in snow, but we could manage it without chains. However, when we reached the finish at the top, the organisers advised us to fit the chains for the descent. We did, but others decided to go without. It resulted in a mess as many cars slid off the road out of control. 
We got down in one piece, but we were in the first 20 cars coming down. There were still 70 more to come down and that's where many got  stuck.
Then we had a long 115km drive to the Austrian- Slovenian border to get to the hotel and final time control of the day. We just managed to get there within our time limit so we should be okay in the overall standings.
Anty did a great job today, so Tom Tom stays in the bag and the 356 is remarkable and fun in the real snow.
Tomorrow another tough day in Slovenia.

Good night and see the pictures of today!!

Mick & Anty

29 january 2009
Day 5 
Another winter day in Slovenia. Mick stuffs the 356 in a snow bank... twice!
This is a real Winter Trial! Snow and Ice plenty. Another exhausting day for Team 12 but we came home in Bled, near the Austrian border without any damage.
Today we had 4 special stages , two in the morning and two in the afternoon and two circuit tests, one in the morning and another in the dark in the afternoon. All of them on ice and snow.
The special stages (regularities) were again a real challenge for the navigator as he receives the route instructions only in the morning when you time out. This means that Anty has to plot 4 special stages routes in the small 356 and at the same time provide me with route instructions for the connecting routes. Not an easy task but he managed very well today. We got through all the sections, got to all the checkpoints and completed the day with limited penalty points. The routes were treacherous, ice, or full of snow allthough we managed to have to fit the snow chains only once today. 
However, after special stage 2 it went wrong when on a narrow snow track I lost control on a ice downhill corner and the 356 slid straight into a snow bank. She was wearing chains at the time so I put her in reverse and pulled her back out. Then, when I put her in first gear to move off down hill the 356 slid straight across the ice track into the snow bank on the left. This time well and truly embedded in the snow bank. Fortunately there was a 4x4 near by who pulled us out so that we could continue our journey after about 10 minutes. Scary though.

A few kilometers down the same track we had to stop again as one of our fellow competitors in the yellow MGB had slid straight into a car owned by a local. The damage was extensive and the MGB is out of the rally unfortunately.
The afternoon special stages were very technical and many lost their way or did not find the final time control.
We found our way and found the time controls which was really good. We did not manage the avarage speed of 40 kms an hour, which is near impossible in these conditions. However, the 356 is perfect. No oil consumption all week and she does not miss a beat.
We arrived at the hotel in Bled, which is an old east European kuhr town at 19.45, after a long day of rallying.
We don't know how we did today and even yesterday . The results have been changed so much beause of all the incidents, weather etc. So we will wait and see.

Tomorrow wil be the final day, with a test on an ice track and a special stage which often has a sting in the tail.

We will let you know,

Good night,

Mick & Anty






30 january 2009
Finish
Porsche No 12 Finishes the toughest Winter Trial on record in 1st place in the 1600cc category and in 10th place overall in the club class.
Update on last day of the rally tomorow night.
Good night.