Coming out of Albania after the notorious Commander Kokolari escort incident, Michael Ross put the hammer to the floor of the Polizei M5 and took us down toward the Adriatic, which may well have been the most breathtaking bit of a trip full of face-melting, soul-widdling vistas. Coming into the city of Budva, a 2,500 year-old-burg on the coast, Mister Ross was laying on the throttle while Herr Roy alternated through horn, emergency lights, siren and navigation duties. Then the cops showed up.

The officer was nonplussed and wasn't particularly well-versed in English. But what he did know is that an Yank and a Brit dressed as Italian highway patrolmen driving a seven-year-old German performance sedan with a large dent in the roof and Adidas stripes on the side simply didn't add up. Ross calmly informed the officer that we weren't cops and weren't claiming to be officers of the law; that we were raising money for a charity benefiting the London Metropolitan Police (which was actually true, if a bit of a stretch). Unswayed by Ross' calm demeanor, he ordered Roy into his B.O.-stanky VW Golf, put his fellow officer in our shotgun seat and told Ross to follow him to the station.


On the way, in the thick of Budva traffic, we ran across a few other Gumballers. The officer attempted to interdict them, but two cars simply ignored his order, while the Russian couple in the M6 who'd picked up Morley and McConville the day before in Macedonia followed his directions and came to the station with us. Note that at the time, we had no idea that these two had anything to do with the Macedonian situation, so scattered and rumor-laden was the communication.

Once we arrived, they took our passports and forced us to stand around in the cop shop's foyer for around an hour and a half. They used police report forms for toilet-seat covers. The Montenegrin men seemed disturbed by the Polizei crew's leggings. I was mostly thankful that their jackets were long. The Russians grew impatient and finally asked why they were being held when they hadn't been charged with anything and obviously weren't driving a fake BMW police car, which is what had been reported.

Then Alex hit upon the strategy of proving that plenty of cars on the rally were fake police cars. He showed the officers Ross' Bentley from the '06 Gumball, the Polizia Stradale Intercettore in RCMP and Guardia Civil livery, the Polizei CL he'd contested on the Bullrun and in a masterstroke, the M5 shot a few days before at the Hahn airport with a couple of genuine German Polizei Mercs. Ross stifled a "They were very authentic," which was a good thing, given that I was curling my toes trying to stifle guffaws.

Apparently, Ross and I played it off okay, because with that, the chief, who came across like practically every gruff elder statesman of a podunk station ever portrayed told us to lay off the lights and let us go. We hit Croatia soon after. It was time to turn on the radar detector. It was also the next-to-last fun moment we had on the rally. What had begun with the Polizei roadblock in Hahn was all about to come undone in the next twelve hours.

">Travels With Commander Kokolari; More on the Gumball 3000 [Internal]