The Challengers started in front of the hotel in Dresden. Immediatly it became clear that this is no ordinary rally, the team with the Maybach 62 decided to take a little nap back in the hotel just before the start. Their driver was waiting as the first car at the startline because their car has start number 2 (there was no number 1 because that number was assigned to the Italians that crashed in their Ferrari last year). But while the passengers were still a sleep the car was preventing all the other cars from starting. After a couple minutes the driver of the Maybach decided to take off and wait for them in front fo the hotel making it possible for the others to get their route cards and head off to the first destination: Poland.
At the Polish border the police and custom officers allowed the Challengers to enter Poland over the buslane making a quick entry possible. Only team Bob & Annie de Rooy failed to enter Poland because of invalid or missing paperwork. They had to wait 24 hours before getting entry into the country. Poland has one of the worst roads in the European Union. There are no highways and there is a lot of traffic on the road including trucks and other annoying slow vehicles. At the end of the day all teams arrived safely at the hotel in Sopot.
According to Challenge organiser Sjoerd van Stokkum this was by far the heaviest day of this years rally (so far). The day started quite good. All cars where off to Lithuania with a police escort through Gdansk and Team Bob & Annie de Rooy was able to enter Poland and ready to drive all the way to the Lithuanian checkpoint. But not much later a couple unexpected things happened.
Jan Riedstra became unwell on the road. He was taken to the hospital and was a big shock to all the Challengers. Luckily he’s doing well now. He has to stay in the Polish hospital for 48 hours for observation. Team Professoren and Team Boer Zoekt Vrouw are staying with him and his daugther until they release him from the hospital. We wish him all the best!
A couple other things happened today. Team Spyker Squadron left Sopot as a convertible with the hardtop stored in the support Jeep Grand Cherokee. After a little while it started raining and on the terrible roads in Poland the Spyker had to slow down to prevent any damage. But driving slow in the rain isn’t really nice in a convertible and the umbrella wasn’t a big success either so they had to wait for the support crew to deliver their hard-top before continuing their journey. The Mercedes ML400 CDI of Team 33 had trouble with the powersteering and had to be towed to the checkpoint by the support crew. The ML will be fixed in Vilnius tonight.
All the Challengers that hit Lithuania were extremely pleased with the very good highways in the country. At 4 in the afternoon the first car arrived at the hotel just outside Vilnius. Team Batmobile in their Porsche 996 Turbo took full advantage of their 4WD Porsche in the rain and came in first. The second car that arrived was Team Dakar in the Q7. Team Dakar is used to bad road conditions and therefor had little trouble with the bad roads in Poland. The Ferrari Racing Team and Team Indians in the Porsche GT3 RS had to take it easy because of the rain and came in as third and fourth.
Thumbs up for Team Bob & Annie de Rooy and their BMW 645 Ci Convertible for driving straight to the Lithuanian checkpoint from the German / Polish border. After a long and heavy day for most Challengers it was time to relax and get ready to party!