London to Cape Town Rally: Saudi Arabia & Bad Timing

Photos by John Bayliss from Car 37: Volvo 144

The organisers say Day 9 of the 2012 London to CapeTown was the most physically demanding day so far, after so many crews became stuck in the soft sand of the first desert section in Egypt. The ferry that night took them into Duba, to be met by the Saudi Arabia Motorsport Federation. Cars were parked and the crews clambered onto an American schoolbus convoy to ride a short distance for immigration formalities.

That process complete, the rally was set free on the coast road of Saudi Arabia: the first-ever international rally to cross Saudi. After the hectic Egyptian desert, no timing was done during the 307-mile trip, and the first crews had daylight at the finish to check their car over.

Day 11 would be a late-morning start: 213 miles to Jeddah, and the evening ferry that chugs back across the Red Sea to arrive mid-day at Suakin, in Sudan. Tougher days are ahead! (camel pic by Gerard Brown)

Hayden Burvill, navigator in Porsche number 35 is sending us regular reports. Here’s Hayden’s texts from yesterday:

Arriving in Saudi was a pleasant surprise after the trash-strewn landscape in Egypt. By comparison, the Saudi wealth is very much on display with highly developed infrastructure and good roads and far less roadside detritus.

We travelled across the Red Sea on a high speed car ferry catamaran built in Western Australia. We filled up with fuel, which was ridiculously cheap: 2 Cokes, a bag of crisps and a couple of bags of nuts cost more than 60 litres of 95 octane. The store at the gas station was provisioned with the same or more than you would get at a good interstate stop in the USA – massive choice of drinks, candy, biscuits etc. But for the Arabic labelling, you could have been in Nevada or Utah.

Our expectations of improving in the scoring has been defeated by some unfortunate leniency on the day 9 timing and scoring – a stark contrast to how timing was cast earlier in the event. Still plenty of time left, but it is hard to recover time on cancelled stages.

Later text:

Now waiting for the last ferry of the rally, Saudi to Sudan. The run today was uneventful, but for a minature sand storm and a herd of camels.

The overnight stop in Yanbu was a long one with no early start. The locals were pretty light fingered, so the Porsche has lost the crest from the bonnet and a prized BRDC badge. Others lost tools and electronics to the bold and sexually confused teenage boys.

Jeddah is a large city with freeways and large container port. Our ferry to Sudan is an overnight crossing (dry Muslim ship) and we have 700km to cover once we arrive, so hopefully sleep comes easily on the ferry.

Day 12 is 714km with no competition, day 13 has no World Cup sections, but some tight time controls in a landscape and traffic conditions we can’t predict. All to look forward to in the next 48 hours, after a quiet and somewhat relaxing 48 hours preceding.



About John Glynn

John Glynn is the owner of Ferdinand Porsche Magazine and resident Race4Change media expert & blogger. John owns five classic Porsche cars and knows the Porsche scene inside out. Check out his articles on the Ferdinand Porsche Blog at
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2 Responses to London to Cape Town Rally: Saudi Arabia & Bad Timing

  1. Margaret Thomson says:

    Badly wanted to welcome you all in Jeddah but could get no info re your arrival here. I was at your departure in London so was eager to see how you were all getting along. No-one here had any idea that this Rally was going on. We waited on the road Medina in the hope that some of you would come through sadly saw no-one. Glad it is going so well congratulations.

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