For the second time in as many days we managed to ignore the TomTom and take a wrong turning. 30 miles later and we were back where we had been, but 30 minutes later into the day! Pair this up with a very leisurely breakfast and we were probably at the back of the line of bangers making their way down towards Andorra.
We caught up with the backmarkers just past Millas, and ten minutes later we were probably about middle of the pack having passed lots of teams parked up taking photos of shop fronts and bus stops to the bemusement of the on-looking locals.
The road got more and more twisty as the altitude increased, and with it came a more and more interesting drive. Although there was snow on ground in places, it was still roasting in the relentless sunshine. Run for the Sun? We’ve already found it! Time for a quick stop to grab an ice cream, and take in the amazing views.
We pressed on up through the Pyranees mountains, closer to the deep white snow on the peaks. Making sure to use the animal siren to good effect with the locals, now getting a much more friendly response than in northern France.
About five miles from the Andorra border we spotted a white vehicle in the distance, and to our delight we again caught up with Team 107 Plain Lazy in the old Bedford Ambulance. A quick chat at a lay-by and we agreed to follow them through the border. A nice idea in theory, but things were about to get interesting!
The general process at the border control is to slow your car to a crawl and wait to be waved through. The Ambulance pulled in, slowed down and then drove straight off. I think the patrol were going to talk to them but having seen them take off they decided to have their fun with our poor old Volvo instead. Step forward Jules, our French linguist, as Luke and I sat frustrated at the growing group of officials surrounding our banger. At first they wanted to know what was in the box on our back seat, but when the Andorra patrol joined their French colleagues, they turned their attention to the Amber Light-bar on the roof.
After lots of shaking of heads, rubbing of chins and private conversations, the decision was final – we were not being allowed access to Andorra! We were made to turn around by patrolmen brandishing pistols, and off we went back down the mountain. There wasn’t really a choice to make; we had to remove the light-bar. Any sensible team on a Banger Rally come equipped with tools, but not the organisers – not even a screwdriver. Our only option was to issue a Mayday SMS to all teams!