Atko’s Tales …. from Jordan
- 4th May 2008, 9:43am
Hi everyone back home,
Wow! What a year it has been so far. To be third in the championship and just two points behind Seb is pretty amazing after five events. I must say I didn’t expect to have scored this many podiums already but the work the team has put in is paying off and we are not having to take as many risks.
Development on the new Impreza WRC 2008 is continuing and we believe this will be the car that puts Subaru back in the winner’s circle when we launch it into the WRC later this year. I am looking forward to getting my first chance to drive the new machine and seeing the results of all the testing Marko (former WRC driver, Marko Martin) has been doing.
It has been a fairly busy start to the year with five events in just over three months but I’ve managed to slip in a few trips around the place in between competing and training back home (well, home away from home) in Monaco. After Argentina, Phil, Petter and I stayed out for a few extra days to go hunting and it was some trip. Phil is quite the marksman so he had a few other UK boys along for the trip which took us through some thick jungle at the base of the Andes.
With the snow in the European Alps melting fast, a few of us then decided to cruise up to La Tania – a small but lively little snow resort in France full of random Aussies and English – for some well overdue 'boarding. It was a bit of a gamble at that time of year but one which paid off big style as we were riding in t-shirts under clear blue skies, on top of some of the best snow I’ve ridden on. Unreal! A couple of mates I knew up there had said the snow this season had been the best in over 50 years, so there was a truck load of it. Anyone looking to head over to see some European snow, go to La Tania – great runs and even better parties!
From the slopes until Jordan I spent a lot of time training on the bike which I have switched to more this year. I used to run everywhere but a few of the boys down in the south of France have got me on the bike and it has been the best form of training for me. They say down that way and over in Italy is where all the top-riders come to live and train for the Tour de France and the scenery is magic so it’s a real winner. I’ve also got myself a trainer now in Monaco who is an ex-pro cyclist from Oz who comes along and makes sure I don’t slack off – cheers Roc.
For the latest event in Jordan, I decided to head out early with some guys from the team to check out the place and some of the cool sites. After arriving in the country's capital, Amman, we hired a dodgy rental and began the 300 km trek to Petra – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and the place where Indiana Jones had to choose the Holy Grail cup in the "Last Crusade" movie. It was an amazing spectacle to see the sheer size and preservation of the 80 metre high buildings carved into the stone - some 2600 years ago. We cruised around on a camel for a bit, too which was sweet. Temperatures were hitting the 40 degree mark so we jumped in the desert bashing coupé and headed to a spot called Aqaba which is Jordan’s biggest international shipping port right on the border of Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. It was a nice spot, too but a bit touristy so we hit the water for some scuba diving which was surprisingly good, with nice reefs and fish but nowhere near as massive as the Great Barrier Reef.
We had to head back to the shores of the Dead Sea on Monday afternoon for the recce on Tuesday but before the rally began I jumped in the Dead Sea for the first time and wow, what a sensation! The Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world with over 35 different minerals in it so basically you can’t sink and you feel like a cork floating around... it is weird.
Well, I’m off for some sushi now. Hopefully we can keep the podiums flowing and the good-times rolling.
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