One of the things that makes PtoP so exciting is the extreme efforts crews take to stay in the race. There are cars with new suspensions, new radiators, new windscreens and even new crew members but all still pressing forward to Paris. It takes courage to keep going despite the fact that the car is broken and held together with gaffer tape.
But it also takes courage (perhaps more courage) to know when to call a halt, to acknowledge that going on doesn't make sense and that despite all the planning, effort, attention to detail, money and sheer graft on the route the race is over for this car and this crew.
And that's what's happened to Rhubarb and Custard. It's proved impossible to rebuild the carburettors and make them serviceable. As a result it would be a struggle to drive back to the hotel never mind catch the rally 2000 km away. It seems absurd that a car which has otherwise nothing wrong with it, has been brought low by an invisible problem when the rally car park is full of crippled cars that nonetheless are able to keep going.
However it would be folly to attempt to catch the rally under our own steam and not much better to have the car trucked along the route - what can't be fixed in a workshop can't be repaired in the field and we would at best be limping along and require constant attention and it's more likely that the car would simply die.
So, like Napoleon and Hitler before us, we've been beaten by Russia, almost exactly half way through the rally. We have the offer to rejoin in a different car at a later point but at least tonight I don't find that appealing. The point was to take Rhubarb and Custard the whole way and that can't be.
We've had some wonderful messages of sympathy from friends, family and other crews for which we are grateful. Even the staff at the hotel gave us their support and I confess that I had a tearful moment when I was writing thank you notes to the sweeps, medics, organiser's and marshals.
We've had a great time and it seems that at least this time it wasn't meant to be. Don't give up on the blog though. There will be time for further reflection and comment before we close the book.