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Turning up the heat - Report: Nile Trial 2009

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From the Red Sea coast to Luxor, the going's been as tough as drivers wanted it to be...

Day twelve: The previous day had taken its toll on the Lotus Cortina of Clive Dunster and Celia Agger, who had suffered from top-end issues with their twin-cam. It had left the mechanics with a frenzied late-night session in the hotel car park at Soma Bay on the Red Sea coast - but in the end, they got it running again in readiness for the start of day 12's proceedings.

As it was, the teams were looking forward to this day with eager anticipation - It included a 70km off-road stage that would challenge the cars as well as their drivers. The lead car, Nigel and Paula Broderick's Datsun 240Z had opened up a gap, but second place was  looking hotly contested between the Lotus Cortina, the ex-works Morris 18000 driven by Frederick Robinson and Roy Stephenson, and the awesome V8 powered Holden HK of Michael and Anne Wilkinson.

Once underway, it was clear that the previous night's repairs on the Cortina were never going to be enough to see it through this gruelling day - and within a few miles, it was parked up. That leaves second place a straight fight between the Morris and the Holden.

The day's driving was a mix of open and undulating desert highway, and poorly-surfaced gravel tracks leading through rustic villages. wherever the cars went, locals would come out as wave the cars on, cheering and smiling at the eclectic mix of stickered up rally cars, However, following the Itala into Luxor was a sight to behold  - the team was given an extra warm welcome, often with children running alongside, cheering and laughing, while Karen Ayre continued to wave regally.

Story of the day for us was the all-lady team of Caroline Greenhalgh and Rosie Gibson in their Alvis 4.3, who found themselves running in sixth place, despite never having competed on an event like this. 'It has been a huge amount of fun,' Caroline said. 'During the first few days through Libya, we made a few mistakes, and since then, more and more things on the car have stopped working. We don't even have a starter motor, which means we can't stall. But we just keep going, laughing all the way - although the competitor in me thinks that we could be further up the board if we'd got day one right...'

It's a rest day in Luxor for the teams - aside from the many who find themselves making repairs - and back to the finish at the Red Sea after that. There will be an 85km special stage to contend with, so expect more problems along the way...

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