Currently, I’m sat with the balcony doors open of our Maranello Palace room, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Ferrari factory, it’s 23 degrees and there are two plonkers lapping the roundabout outside in Californias.
Ordinarily that’d annoy me, but these plonkers are giving Maranello the soundtrack it was designed for. And they’ve marked our arrival to the home of the prancing horse perfectly.
Well that, and the fact Darth Vader, of team Star Wars, got foiled by a rose bush. I told him he should of used the force…
Ok, so the bad news? Well, sadly HMS Ark Royal has been torpedoed and left in a wet and miserable car park in deepest, darkest France.
After being towed into harbour late last night by the legendary AA patrol teams, the decision was taken to leave it where it was in the hope that by Monday we can source an alternator and we’ll get back home under our own steam.
Currently, Team Klarius – the parts supremos – are working diligently to try and source us a new alternator.
While their colleagues are driving, the other team members have been hitting the phones in a desperate hunt for an elusive part for the HMS S80. They’re hopeful they can sort something…
We’ve also been badgering Volvo UK to see if it can work its magic. We have everything crossed someone can help an we’ll make it back to the UK in the Ark.
So, with our ship stuck in a foreign port, we were forced to take shore leave and hitch a lift with another team. Fortunately there were 30 of those to choose from.
Bangers4BEN is all about the people you meet on the journey and Rob and Wags were two absolute legends.
Rob is a car dealer from Bath, but not any old dealer. He doesn’t have a site, and he doesn’t have a website – he simply finds cars for people who want them. How do they find him? Word of mouth.
‘It’s a stress free life really,’ he told me, as we hurtled towards the Mont Blanc tunnel. ‘I find cars for people who don’t really like cars. They tell me they want a silver one. Or an Audi. I go and chat to them about their lifestyle and find them the right car.’
What a job!
Wags owns Combe Down Garage, Bath, and the pair are great friends. Wags has 12 mechanics who work with him and he prides himself on customer service. ‘It’s not about the money,’ he told me. ‘I just get a buzz out of fixing cars and keeping people happy.’
We couldn’t have asked to hitch a lift with two nicer people. Over the seven hour drive to Maranello we chatted about Wags’ former career as a navigator on Nimrods in the RAF (some amazing and unrepeatable stories there) and about Rob’s passion for crap Italian cars.
In fact, we talked so much we didn’t even put the stereo on.
And what about the XG? Well, Rob found it weeks after signing up to Bangers4BEN in March and Wags has been using it as a courtesy car to keep it running over the summer.
It’s done just 57,000 miles, has a full service history and was one of the comfiest cars I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in the back of. The guys are hopeful it’ll make £700 at auction. The fact it’s got a V6 lump under the bonnet makes it a little unpopular.
Tonight we’ll be eating in the restaurant just across the road from the Ferrari factory gates and then heading back to France, and our stricken Mighty Ark, tomorrow after a tour of the Galleria Ferrari.