Sunday Digest

The week’s important stories and best pictures rounded up – from the Italian motorway petrol station strike, speeding post mortem from Le Mans, the crazy Autobahn shooter captured, the best mountain roads from the Tour de France and the implications of the new R.o.Ireland Transport Bill.

Plus, who’s on tour?

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Italy fuel strike – a strike co-ordinated by three industry associations will see motorway petrol stations close for three days in mid-July over high prices apparently charged by oil companies. The stoppage will start at 22:00 on Tuesday 16 July and last until 06:00 Friday 19 July says ANSA news agency. According to the AA Fuel Price survey for June, unleaded 95 costs €1.75/l and diesel €1.63/l. Both are at the top end of fuel prices charged in Europe but neither are the highest, as claimed by one spokesman.

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Windy500 in deepest Albania

A Windy500 team tackles unmade mountain roads in Albania and herds of wild tortoises.

A Windy500 team tackles unmade mountain roads in Albania, and herds of wild tortoises.

Windy500 – driving 5,500 miles through 23 countries in 23 days in vehicles worth a maximum £500 is asking for trouble. If anything though it’s the hi-technology causing problems on the Windy500 European adventure. A satnav-inspired detour through deepest Albania on day thirteen saw one group faced with an impassable rutted dirt track and wild tortoises, seriously, on the carriageway. To make it even more exciting, the sixteen teams only find out where they are going when organiser Steve Blackmore reveals the plans each morning. One place they did know about was the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania, Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite, where they wild camped, at 6,500ft, beer and wine chilled by snow collected from the roadside (in June) watching an electrical storm further down the valley. Last night was spent camping within feet of the Adriatic in Croatia. One piece of modern technology working well is the internet. Daily updates are posted at www.Windy500.co.uk and are well worth a read. Each team has pledged to raise at least £100 for Julia’s House, a children’s hospice in Dorset. You can sponsor them via the Windy website or donate direct at www.juliashouse.org

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Le Mans speeding post mortem

French traffic police looking suitably stern after banning this young man from driving and fining him €750.

French traffic police looking suitably stern after banning this young man from driving and fining him €750 on the way to Le Mans this year. This is not the Audi A8 caught ‘in excess’ of 250kph. Photo via Twitter.

France – a UK-registered (company owned) Audi R8 was caught doing in excess of 250kmh (155mph) on the A28 between Rouen and Alencon on Friday, presumably on the way to Le Mans. The exact speed is unknown since the police radar gun couldn’t read beyond 250kmh. The car was impounded, the man’s license confiscated and he was fined €1,500. Another seven British motorists were caught doing over 190kmh according to reports. We’re not sure how this crop compares to previous years. Read our run down on Driving in France 2013.

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The best Tour de France mountain roads – ahead of the famous bike race kicking off this weekend – literally by the sounds of it – the Guardian employed Tour de France historian Giles Belbin to pick his five favourite mountain stages. We employed Google Maps to locate them, all in the South of France. From west to east: near Lourdes, Col d’Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet; near Avignon, Le Mont Ventoux; and, both east of Grenoble, L’Alpe D’Huez and Col du Galibier. Click for an overview map or for the original article.

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Help for Heroes European Rally

The Help for Heroes Rally crews enjoy a well earned lap of the Nurburgring.

The Help for Heroes Rally crews at the Nurburgring.

Band of Brothers – loosely tracing the route of the Allied invasion of Europe after the D-Day Landings in 1944, the 42 crews on this year’s Help for Heroes 4×4 European Rally drove two thousand miles through seven countries, drawing the event to a successful conclusion this morning. Now in its fourth year, the H4H Euro rally has so far raised nearly £600,000 to help injured servicemen and women and their families. This year’s tour included many historical sites from WW1 and WW2, culminating in Hitler’s infamous Eagle’s Nest in Bavaria. But the teams also enjoyed a surprise off-roading session in a quarry near Munich and at least one lap of the Nurburgring. Interestingly, the rally used live satellite tracking from Skytag to keep track of crews. A detailed route map will be on-line soon. To support the event, text the word RALLY to 70900 to donate £5 or follow this link.

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Germany: Autobahn shooter nabbed – after five years, federal police (BKA – Bundeskriminalamt) finally caught up with the man responsible for 700 random shootings on German motorways last weekend. A 57 year old professional driver from Nord Rhein Westphalia, western Germany, has admitted his involvement according to a press conference on Tuesday. The incidents started in July 2008 mainly targeting car transporters. Several serious injuries, but no fatalities, resulted. A change to more powerful ammunition last year saw the investigation move up a gear though the use of a special network of cameras has sparked privacy concerns. German police are denied access to the national network of traffic cameras.

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Ukraine - nextyear,

Ukraine. Next year’s Porsche Performance Drive will have to search a bit harder for challenging roads after Ukraine president Yanukovych announced this week that ‘restoration and construction of regional roads is one of the main tasks of government in 2014.’ Part of the ring-road around capital Kiev will also be resurfaced.

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Eurotunnel – it was never likely that the Chunnel operator would take the European Commission’s intervention on access charges and governance lying down. In a newsletter to investors, Eurotunnel chief Jean-Paul Gounon called the Commission’s criticisms ‘dogmatic’ and showing ‘a serious lack of understanding’. He has also referred the timing of the announcement to the Stock Market authorities after €500m was wiped off the value of the company in the following two days.

In related news, DFDS’ Harwich-Esbjerg service will resume this Friday, 5 July, following a spectacular crash with the berth in Harwich last weekend.

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Yes you Cannes: Seventy glamorous, fashionable, rich - and, obviously, adventurous - women drove a collection of 35 very red, exotic sports cars 1,700 miles from Barcelona to Rome this week. Sponsored by Bentley, Maserati, Roberto Cavalli and Valentino among others. More on this soon.

Yes you Cannes: Seventy glamorous, fashionable, rich – and, obviously, adventurous – women drove a collection of 35 very red, exotic sports cars 1,700 miles from Barcelona to Rome this week. Sponsored by Bentley, Maserati, Roberto Cavalli and Valentino among others. More on this soon.

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Ireland – as is becoming the European norm, from the end of 2014 all drivers in the Republic will be required to carry a breakdown/emergency pack including a first aid kit, high-viz vest, torch and reflective triangle. The govt published a new Road Traffic Bill on Thursday. Penalties for traffic offences will be beefed up and a new regime for roadside drink/drugs testing introduced as road accident stats show a marked increase recently after several years of falls. Also, cyclists will become liable for on-the-spot fines.

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Rolls-Royce Alpine Rally re-run

The Rolls-Royce Rally on the Loibl Pass, Slovenia to Italy.

As you might expect, the best photos of the week came from the Rolls-Royce Alpine Rally re-run. Anybody tempted to dismiss a trip that included two receptions with Royalty, one beside Lake Garda, should bear in mind entrants drove their 100 year old Ghosts on the unmade, 28.5% roads of the Loibl Pass between Slovenia and Italy. The event, a re-run of the original 1913 Alpine Rally which first established Rolls’ ‘best car in the world’ credentials, finishes today in Vienna. Catch up with the latest via the link above.

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Amusing – the best traffic tales always come from Russia and this week is no exception. A man from Frolovo in the south west Vologda region was caught after stealing a bridge he had been intending to sell for scrap metal. Police followed drag marks to his house.

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And finally…

It's always worth keeping track of @LeighTurnerFCO as he explores his patch of Turkey, South Caucasus and Central Asia. This week he's been on holiday in south west Turkey, including catching the ferry across the Gulf of Gokova to spend a last few days on the Datca Peninsula. A recommended follow on Twitter.

It’s always worth keeping track of @LeighTurnerFCO as he explores his patch of Turkey, South Caucasus and Central Asia. For the last two weeks he’s been on holiday in south west Turkey, including catching the ferry across the Gulf of Gokova to spend a last few days on the Datca Peninsula. A recommended follow on Twitter.

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Sunday Digest is only a selection of the stories on DriveEurope each week. See our Daily Brief blog each day for more, as well as up-to-date info on traffic, travel and weather.

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