12th June: Venice – Monaco
Off to Monaco we go
After two exceptionally long and difficult days on the road and with very little time to really take in our hotel and surroundings we decided that, upon leaving the San Clemente Kempinsky, we would head to the checkpoint at Alfa Romeo Balocco. Once there, depending on the activities on offer, we would then make a call as to whether to stay or, instead, head straight to the Fairmont, Monaco.
Around two and a half hours later after a somewhat uneventful drive from Venice, we arrived at the proving ground, which Alfa Romeo uses not only to test their vehicles but also to hold client functions. Driving in was a sight to behold, with around 30 Gumball cars arranged in a semi-circle and their drivers milling around and taking photos, absorbing the spectacle. We made our way to lunch, ate our fill and then headed straight to a small museum that, I believe, had been created for our benefit. It is always spectacular to see old cars, but it’s not everyday you get to appreciate a 1968 33/2 and a Di Tommaso from 1961!
The Lambo can’t compete for noise
Having never driven one, I had hoped we might have the opportunity to drive a 4C on track but, unfortunately, that was not the case so we took an executive decision to, instead, make our way to Monaco. Having never driven through Italy before, albeit having watched plenty of driving videos, I hoped we would come across some of the legendary tunnels. And boy did we do just that. Unfortunately, the safety barriers were too high to be able to appreciate the sensational views but that was more than made up for by the sheer number of hills and mountains we had to drive through. Once again, the F355 came into her own here; simply no other car could match her for the quality and level of noise she was able to create. At one point a Lamborghini Urus, who was right behind us, suddenly disappeared from the rear-view mirror – I suspect they had hoped to be able to hear their own car but, instead they were just being drowned out by the F355’s 375 prancing horses at 8,500rpm. Magical!
Gumball 3000 Foundation Charity dinner
As planned, we got to Monaco around 5pm. There were already some Gumball cars there, including K.I.T.T, Michael Knight’s car from Knightrider (not actually on the Rally but there for fans to enjoy) and, after dropping our luggage at the hotel before then parking in the underground car park two minutes away, I joined Victor and Ivan for a drink at Nikki Beach. Two bottles of rosé later, I then headed to the room to get ready for the Gumball 3000 Foundation Charity dinner. It was fantastic to get everyone together, all at the same time, for what felt like the first time on the Rally. David Coulthard and Jodie Kidd (both former Gumballers) hosted along with Mr Gumball 3000. And David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff, performed, as well as giving away a Baywatch life buoy for the auction. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were raised for charity and it was an honour to be a part of the occasion. By about 11pm we were ready to get the party started and so, after an initial attempt to hit Jimmies, which was dead, we moved to Sass, staying until the early hours.
Tomorrow was the penultimate day. It had all gone so fast, although as you will see, the Spanish police were determined to make it last a bit longer.
Take a look at our Gumball Gallery for more great images.