796cc engine powers Dutch team to runner up prize in POI Rally
A scandalous number of teams write in asking to bring cars way over the 1 litre rule. Not Team De Sloekertjes from the Netherlands.
They excelled themselves on the Poles of Inconvenience Rally with a tiny 796cc 15 year old Chevrolet Matiz. And they’ve won the joint runner up prize for their sterling efforts.
Ilsa and her brother Rodin drove 20,300 kms through 19 countries, snagging (almost) 17 POIs and raised €583 for the DEC Ukraine Appeal.
They got stuck in the sands of the northern Sahara, were begged by locals not to tackle tracks they subsequently conquered and, apparently, shat themselves quite a bit too. Over to Ilsa:
“We have had diarrhoea more often than a hot shower, and slept in the car more often than in a hotel. We have crossed 3 continents, 5 mountain ranges and 19 countries. We had a blast doing it, and hope to see you guys again next year in Mongolia!”
Here’s an adventure report showing why the judges picked these Dutch siblings as worthy prizewinners.
“Narrow, rocky, sandy and tilted to the lovely cliff on our left”
“In one day, we drove all the way from the Costa del Sol in Spain to Fez, Morocco. The road to POI #22 (very high in the Atlas Mountains) was quite an adventure. The national roads leading there were worse than the track to the pole.
“It was supposed to be a two-way road, but it was very narrow, rocky, sandy and tilted to the lovely cliff on our left. We’re lucky we drove it late at night, so there was no oncoming traffic. It was pitch black, the road was steep and full of rocks, but we made it.
“On top of the mountain, we had some beers while waiting for Team Cliopatra to join us. Let’s just say they took their time…”
If that sounds like fighting talk from a young team, you’d be right. And this wasn’t the only time they unleashed gloriously withering remarks about other teams who made the mistake of challenging the raw power of the 796cc Matiz.
“The next morning we convoyed with Team Only Vans to the Sahara Desert. We were determined to make it to POI #23, Erg Chigaga, and entered the ‘gigantic sandpit for adult children’ with full confidence. Pretty accurate description, as it turns out.
“Locals warned us that the pole would be unreachable with our cars but, naturally, we like a challenge. The road turned into loose sand almost immediately, and we soon got stuck. Fortunately Team Only Vans were smart enough to bring some traction pads, and with the help of some locals and a lot of digging and pushing we eventually got out.
“Making it to this pole was not a realistic option, especially since Ilsa had gotten heatstroke from the pushing and digging in the Sahara heat. The closest we could make it was about 50km from the pole. No chance. Even a local guide wouldn’t take us with his camels. So we both decided to turn back. We did see sand dunes and tried our best. It was beautiful!”
“The rest of the days spent in Morocco we enjoyed the cities. And then the food poisoning hit as well. We both would have the shits until the Balkans.”
“They warned us the road was rough as fuck. Which it was.”
After tackling the POI #13 in Bosnia by skipping their hotel, driving through the night and wild camping by the pole, Ilsa and Rodin headed to POI #12 – Albania’s Road of Doom.
“On the way up the mountain, we met another team who was just coming down, Captain Hammons. They warned us the road was rough as fuck. Which it was.”
“We made it though, and on the way back we passed the same team on the motorway, barely a few kilometres off the dirt track. Slowpokes. We were greeted with the cries of shattered egos.”
More excellent fighting talk. That’s how emboldened you become when you drive such a perfectly tiny vehicle and conquer a mountain road that some other teams struggled on with much bigger engines.
“So we just took off, and didn’t stop for 28 hours”
“Now time was almost running out, and we only had 4 days to get [from Greece] to Georgia. So we just took off, and didn’t stop for 28 hours. We then slept in a little hotel on the Black Sea coast near the Georgian border. Oh, and we got the (very misty) pole on death road (#18, Bayburt Of yolu) on the way.
“Because we accidentally skipped the actual Death Road while collecting pole 18, we did it on the way back! It wasn’t that bad at all, we’ve driven more dangerous roads before. Unfortunately, it was very foggy up there, but when we passed the ‘dangerous’ part, it cleared up! So at least we still had some of the nice views!”
“A local guide almost begged us to please turn back”
“The morning after the finish party we had a little issue with our hotels plumbing, and our entire room flooded. But we still had some time to get poles, and of course we had to see a bit of Georgia, so we went on our way to pole #44, The Church on Abano Pass.
“The road up the mountain was pretty challenging, and a local guide almost begged us to please turn back. We are stubborn though, and persevered. Every time we saw another car (always a massive 4×4) we got big smiles, applause, and we got filmed at least 5 times.
“We made it … It was incredible. The road was a challenge, but dang was it beautiful. Although it was very misty and rainy, the view was still amazing. Luckily the rain wasn’t that bad in the morning, and we had a good night’s sleep in the car. On the way back we bought a new oil filter for our car and gave it a well-deserved, roadside oil change.”
Pointy Rock Thingy – POI #17
At the start of the rally Ilsa and Rodin camped on a random tiny road in the middle of a forest then headed to POI #17 in Spain, aptly named in the rally handbook as ‘Pointy Rock Thingy’.
They also snagged POI #21, the most excellent Carril del Chaparral: “It was quite a journey up the mountains, with a road full of rocks, but the tiny yellow car made it. We camped in the wild with views of the Costa del Sol! In the morning, we noticed it was actually in a burned down forest, but it was stunning.”
Is POI #19 too easy?
“This was a piece of cake in comparison with pole 22, it’s almost starting to feel like a holiday.”The Poles of Inconvenience Rally organising committee has been notified about this unfortunate feedback about POI #19 in Spain, named ‘Middle of a Mountain Track.’
In future editions of the rally some POIs will clearly have to be retired and more inconvenient alternatives put in place.
Ideally we’ll find a way to make it compulsory for all teams to watch their cars slowly sinking into the sands of the Northern Sahara to ensure appropriate inconvenience. More on that once we check with our lawyers.
Lonely mountain tunnel – POI #9 at Col du Parpaillon
This marvellous French spot is likely to stay on the books for the next edition of the rally. It might not be car breaker but it’s properly high, nicely remote and the old school military tunnel is a lovely, totally pointless detour. Just the way it should be.
Congratulations to Ilsa and Rodin – they win £250 off their next adventure and Adventrist hip flasks.
You can find more of their updates and videos on Instagram: @de_sloekertjes
Head to the website to find out more about the Poles of Inconvenience Rally.
LIST OF POLES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Ilsa and Rodin made a list of all the POIs they got to along the way:
POI #46 – Is that a skull in your CPU?, Launch Site
POI #47 – Package Holidays, Launch Site
POI #45 – Flatscreen Paradise, Launch Site
POI #17 – Pointy Rock Thingy, Spain
POI #21 – Carril del Chaparral, Spain
POI #22 – Tizi n’Takchtant, Morocco
POI #23 – Erg Chigaga, Morocco (we tried our best and got a great adventure)
POI #19 – Middle of a Mountain Track, Spain
POI #9 – Col du Parpaillon, France
POI #13 – Zelengora Pass, Bosnia & Herzegovina
POI #12 – Road of Doom, Albania
POI #18 – Bayburt Of yolu, Turkiye
POI #44 – The Church on Abano Pass, Georgia
POI #49 – Eagle’s Nest, Turkiye
POI #51 – Toasted Teacake, Turkiye
POI #25 – Pole of Toxicity, Romania
POI #15 – Through the Hills, Romania