It seems so long since I set off on my latest trip, I’d almost forgotten the main reason I went! It was to watch the International Rally of Thailand, to meet up with some old friends, and to ignore some ex-friends 🙂
The rally was held in Lopburi Province (Friday & Saturday) and Petchabun Province (Sunday). I stayed in Lopburi town, which probably was a mistake, except that I wanted to do some sightseeing there, as mentioned in an earlier article. But it meant an hour’s drive to watch Leg 1, and over two hours for Leg 2.
The weather was strange. In Lopburi itself it was always cloudy. In fact, I delayed my sightseeing because I was sure it was about to rain. It didn’t. But outside the town it was always clear and sunny. Mornings were cool, and afternoons pleasantly hot. For readers not in the tropics, that translates to stinking hot in the mornings, and deadly hot in the afternoons 🙂
Anyways, I think I achieved my objective. I didn’t rush around like a lunatic trying to catch every stage, just two or three each day, with breaks in the Service Park.
The rally wasn’t quite as grand as it should have been. It was originally billed as the final round of the FIA Asia Cup Series, but at the last moment some sponsorship money didn’t appear, and so the Asia Cup part was cancelled. That might seem strange, but any time the FIA gets involved, the organizer’s costs escalate dramatically. They have to send overseas Stewards, Scrutineers, Observers and general hangers-on, who all have to be housed, fed and provided with cars. I’ve been to rallies where there were more FIA personnel than competitors!
But without the FIA presence, it was more informal and friendly. The rally had something for everyone, with classes for the International King’s Cup, the National Championship, Classic Cars and Pickup Trucks.
Most of the stages were dry and dusty with a hard base, which is great for drivers and photographers like me, but not so good for cameras and clothing. Everything was given a good coating of dust. But rally cars are best looked at rather than talked about, so here’s some photos…
I did have one other mission while I was there, and that was to supply a rally report to veteran UK journalist Martin Holmes. I guess I’ve been providing him with regional information for more than fifteen years. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds because I was trying to do double-duty with the Road To Mandalay route checking, but I did manage to fire off something Sunday evening.
Then things became a little silly. I tried five times to find out how much text he wanted, and what type/size of photos. These questions were never answered, and as a result, it seems I never sent him quite what he wanted. So, we went through a frustrating iterative process over the next few days, with the end result that he published the exact four paragraphs I’d sent him on Sunday night! Nowt as queer as folk!
Anyways, here’s the relevant page from Motorsport Monday…