The last days since our last report have been very hard indeed. The days in the Mongolia desert have been very demanding on men and machines. Nearly all day on gravel, sand roads, not the one nicely prepared, but more wild
path, with rocks, never ending holes, river crossing, sand, mud... you named it, it was for sure not an easy ride. Lots of cars broke down, guess at least 30 or so. Some had to abandon, some are struggling to get back into the rally by repairing their cars,
having parts sent by Fedex, or even their mechanics on the way to our next rest day, where all efforts will be done to get the broken cars back on route. One competitor team’s journey ended the second days when they rolled their Porsche SIX times! A
miracle that the Belgium team survived, for sure thanks to a strong roll cage. The car itself is finished, even the engine case broke. An other roll over, more side ways, happened a few days later. Nothing serious, apart from the damages on the body, broken
windshield, the car is still running and keeping up with the rally. Most cars broke because of weak suspension, shocks, gearbox and even engines failures. One Italian team ended up in a river, their Alfa took an unexpected bath, I mean up the the entire body.
Some locals help the desperate Team to get out. It took them two days to clean and dry the car. I am really wondering if they will in a position to keep up with the rally. Our good wishes go both father and son.
ERA mechanics worked long nights to help, whenever they could. But, in some cases the cars had to be loaded onto trucks to be transported to the next possible garage. Sometimes a long way apart from the rally route. One team got lost and stranded in the sand,
only to be found nearly 24 hours later. Luckily they had their tent, sleeping bags, water and some food.
In general the navigation via the Garmin and the waypoints was not so difficult as we initially had thought.
Always drive into the giving straight direction to hit the next waypoint, should you go off, get back to the direction line. Claudia did a very good job and we didn’t really got lost, apart from some minor corrections.
The competition sections were brutal. Not just a few kilometers, no, one competitive section followed the other, some time way over 100km at the maximum speed. The average speeds given for these sections were so high that only a few teams were capable
achieving them, of course the ones with power under their hoods. No chances for us to be part of the game... The Datsun's, the Porsche’s, and the P76 Leyland battle every day for the lead. And believe it or not out friends Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson
have taken the lead. You should all know what a great admiration Claudia and I have towards Gerry, who is competing at the age of 87 and driving faster than all of the young and ambitious drivers. Matt Bryson, his navigator is for sure a big support for Gerry.
Matt’s father was already a very well know Rallye ace in Australia. Not to forget the Matt is also an experience rally mechanic and has been building lots of successful rally cars, including our little yellow Lancer.
A little car, but a strong car. Seeing both, the P76 and the Lancer side by side, the Lancer looks like a matchbox car. And this little matchbox car is going strong every day. Just a few minor issues, which Matt helped to solved. It’s not
a powerful car, but a very responsive car. I am indeed very happy, that Matt did such a good job. Don’t forget, I have very limited mechanical skills! I have been driving the car as much as possible with care, not exaggerating, the main goal in mind
to arrive in Paris. The precautions has paid off and resulted in the overall 7th position, and first in our class. No Hurrays yet - the journey to Paris is still very long.
Mongolia is a beautiful country, the
people unfortunately not so much. Alcohol is paying its toll. Jim, one of the ERA supporter, had a bad encounter with an aggressive and most probably drunken or drugged man. A 20 dollar bill helped to easy the situation. Apart from the children you don’t
see to many smiling and happy people. Kind of sad, considering the beautiful country. Incredible sceneries, of which Claudia has taken numerous photos. Some of her photos will be sent to you via Whatsapp. It just takes too much time to download all her nice
photos into this blog.
We are now enjoying as much as possible our rest day in Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia. An industrial city, not very flamboyant but with crows of friendly and enthusiastic fans visiting
the car park in front of our hotel. We are treated like stars, had to sign numbers of brochures, take pictures with kids, their parents and car enthusiasts. Incredible and unbelievable emotions! The same along our route, everywhere people waiving and cheering.
No snobbish, high nose Europeans...
Our rest day was due for sure. Completely exhausted, we arrive Friday here. Happy to spend one day without driving, but still having to check the car, change oil, switch the
tires, make an alignment, check all oil levels, clean the inside and outside. And take a rest ourselves. We needed that desperately!
Tomorrow... on the road again, we hope our little Lancer continues to perform as
it did so far. Don’t know, when I will be able again to write a few lines again. Just stay with us. And many thanks for all your comments you have posted on our blog here.
Love to all
Claudia & Marco
PS. On yestdays last passage control there were only 68 cars out of 110 cars. Hopefully some will return tomorrow!