24 Hours Greece 2019 - Endurance Regularity Rally
When "24 Hours Greece" begins at the drivers seat as a member of organizing team and ends in a thrilling experience as a co- driver competitor!
Autumn at last! The high temperatures are not present and a ride with a historic car seems quite tempting. It is a sunny Sunday listening from a cabrio's radio "... easy like Sunday morning". Good enough, but it doesn't fit my mood! The impact of last weekend make me wanna have more action!
The proposal of participating in this race has already made since our previous race in May. Participating in a 24hour regularity race is around the corner. But the repair of Mini Cooper has not been completed, and participating in such a race, the car must be perfect. The truth is that I wanted really bad to compete in this race.
There are points that make people stand out. In my case, my driver (Huffy) came up with an interesting suggestion that I had no reason to refuse. "We may not have a car ready to race, but what would you say to help the organizing team for the race?" My answer is positive with the promise that this time I would be the driver. So, looking forward the start of the race on Saturday.
Start line of race at Chalkida heading to Trikala. The schedule is quite demanding, as it is a race that lasts 24hours (start at 10:00 on Saturday morning and finish at 10:00 on Sunday morning). First stop in beautiful city of Lamia. Everything goes smoothly, until the phone rang!
The co-driver of a beautiful VW Golf GTi seems to be dizzy, but the driver wants to finish this race so badly. Finding a co- driver is a bit difficult that time, but he suggests to change positions. My driver finds it a good idea and his advice was "grab the opportunity". I hesitated at first, as I do not have great experience as a co-driver. The three gemtlemen insisted as they wanted to finish the race, and the duties of the team organization would be done at the same time. So, I accepted!
I am on the right bucket, the roadbook in my hand and I am already in "racing mood". In the first few kilometers at the first special stage, I am a little stressed.
The driver feels ready, and we have already passed the first check point. Coordination with the odometer and the timer in combination with "reading" the route requires attention. One special stage after the other and after crossing Plastira Lake, the daylight has begun to fade. Finally, at Trikala city for some rest. For some crews, this is the end of their participation in 12hour race.
It is about time to fill up our tank as we have more kilometres to go. This leg of race will be completely at night. During regrouping, some crews rest in cars, some other are discussing their experience so far. Time passes fast, and we leave Trikala city behind.
In fact, the task of the crew becomes more difficult. As darkness prevails, drivers should be even more careful while driving as co-driver reads the roadbook either with a flashlight on head or with another light fitted somehow or a combination of the above. Easy? Don't think so. A beautiful special stage was the well-known Bralos special stage and after 3 special stages, here it is. The sunrise through the fog is magical. The driver and I feel ready for the last stage! When we crossed finish line of last stage, he smiles and says "Congratulations, we did it!". "We still have a little bit for the last TC IN (Time Control)", I said. Everything was great, we had any problems with the car and we are ready for the finish flag.
Arriving at the port of Chalkida, I had mixed feelings. I am so glad we made it, as it was the first time competing with the driver but a little bit tired. We found other contestants who had already finished and discussing about the race.
A beautiful race with a strange twist for me is over! The award ceremony took place in the most suitable place, at Hellinic Motor Museum, enhancing this unique experience.
PS: A big THANK YOU to three gentleman for this experience, Dimitris (Huffy) Stavropoulos, George Delaportas and Leonidas Ampeliotis.