Welcome to our special Blog

We will be trying, with emphasis on "trying", to write a few reports during our rally adventure which starts June 2nd in Peking and ends July 7h in Paris. 

Getting ready

We are getting closer… soon our Rally Adventure Peking to Paris will start. 

Preparations lasted over a year, including building our Mitsubishi Lancer. Professionally done by our friend Matt Bryson in Sidney (AUS). Matt actually convinced us to leave our Drunken Monkey in his garage and instead choose a more light and mechanically simple car. The result you can see here… a small but hopefully reliable little beast!

  • Matt and our friends from Australia

  • Little Beast

  • LANCER IS THE ANSWER

Packing

What to pack, what not... that is the question. Important: reduce weight as much as possible 

Michael - the artist

An artistic contribution from our friend Michael Keyser

THANKS MICHAEL!

Historic - Racing

Should you be bored reading our P2P blog and if your are intersted in watching historic racing stories, I strongly recomment my friend's Michael Keyser Video/Presentations:

24 Hours of Daytona 1970/71: https://youtu.be/v_Xkc2RIpkk 24 Hours of Daytona

24 Hours Le Mans 1970: https://youtu.be/7ozl_sJ2uJU

24 Hours Le Mans 1971: https://youtu.be/DZ1cbC6Ii5A

Enjoy with a glass of red...

your Drunken-Monkey

 

 

 

 

 

Our friends Janet & Ed, with their Beetle called "Stewball" - this car has been all around the world, of course with Janet & Ed - lots of hugs to both of you - Marco & Claudia

Thanks

Thanks a lot to all, who wrote and wished us good luck! Attached card from Dave & Ursula. In English:

Every journey brings a person further

you will never return back, as you drove off

you will be more mature, experienced, tolerant and wise

Welcome to Beijing

We left yesterday Zürich with Swiss Airline. Already at the Airport we run into two obvious competitors: Daniel Sauter and his future son in law young Severin Senn. Immediately the smell of old burned gasoline caught our sympathies. They called themselves Greenhorns, newcomers to the world of endurance rally, but be assures they had done their home work, had bought recently a Chevrolet Fangio, a car we know very well from the Safari Rallye back in 2017 and which will for sure perform very well. But we all know it’s going to be a very long way to Paris, more than 14’500km. A lot can happen for all competitors. Thats why we appreciate very much ALL YOUR GOOD WISHES, you had posted or mailed us 👍 - thanks so much!

After a smooth ten hours flight we landed in Peking at 5:00am. Huge airport! No wonder it took us nearly 30 minutes to taxi to the gate. Nearly as long as driving from the ZÜRICH airport to the city. Of course without traffic... Within an short hour we had passed Immigration and customs despite all these Chinese travelers as far as one could see. Daniel offered us to join his Chauffeur driven van, which we accepted very gladly. If you think that at 06:00am the traffic into the city would be a piece of cake, well you are wrong. Peking‘s Traffic never goes to sleep! After more than an hour driving, we finally arrived at the Hotel Shangri-la, checked into our rooms, of course with an additional half day charge. After a short breakfast we got picked up by Mary Anne and the Chauffeur and off we went to a thrilling tour of the “forbidden city”. We spend 3 hours walking in the brutal sun with a tour guide which seemed to be an eskimo. Telling us information, stories, statistics etc. avoiding any place of shade so he could see the Swiss group swetting and suffering. Don’t get me wrong: it was worth it - every minute!

A quick lunch followed the tour while the next activity was already in the pipeline: a tour on a rikscha. Bear in mind that in the meantime most of us had been up for more than 24 hours because the flight from ZÜRICH left at 13:00h -who can sleep at this time of the day? We finally managed to be back in the Hotel, exhausted, tired but extremely happy. So was the reunion in the hotel bar with lots of rally friends which started to arrive from all over the world. Lots of handshakes and hugs were exchanged and a few beers ordered to celebrate. But the exhaustion was calling its tribute. So its time to switch off the light and dream from a wonderful day we had!

We had been 34 hours on our feet’s!  

 

 

 

 

  • Beijing early morning

  • Immigration

  • City

Forbidden City

An other easy day...

Got up very early this morning because an other sightseeing tour was scheduled: the Great Wall. After breakfast we left 07:30 am and immediately got stocked into the traffic. I just don’t know how people can cooperate with such traffic, ever day the same picture: bumper to bumper, kilometer after kilometer. Not really a surprise when you get told that 5 years ago there were 1 million cars circulating in Beijing, 5 years later 5 millions - unbelievable! 

Anyway we cruised our way through the rush hour traffic and arrive 1 1/2 hours later at our destination Murianyun parking, getting the tickets (nothing is free anymore), got in line for the bus and off we went to the cable car station. A short ride brought us up hill to 1200 meters and guess what - the Chinese Great Wall. Of course only part of the wall, because the wall is over 22’000 km long. Build over decades by the Chinese to protect themselves against their enemies, mostly the Mongolians. What a achievement back more than 2000 years ago. We were very lucky to find the place ratherempty, consequently we got a few fantastic pictures. Unfortunately, we had to rush back to the hotel, where at 03:00pm the Beijing Police was giving to all participants a lecture of how to drive in China. I learn at lot, especially that you need to stop on a red light, proceed on the green light and prepare to stop on the yellow light. Funny! After 30 minutes the traffic lecture was over and 200 people were more or less happy to be released. Since the briefing was mandatory almost all competitions had arrived. And we were happy to see a few of our best friends again. Everybody seemed to be in good spirit and anxious to start. Before doing that there is still a lot to do.

 

Starting with picking up our cars tomorrow...

  • C&M

  • Janis & Lucas “lucky stones”

  • The Great Wall

Car and getting ready

Two busy days went by like a finger snap. Picking up the Lancer on Friday, driving back to the Hotel in a traffic congestion you can’t imagine. Most important we didn’t got lost , but even more important that the brakes did work properly when a car driving from a right light into the cross section nearly hit us. I don’t want to write down what my words were, when a shouted at him and good for him he did not understood me. Our Rallye would had been finished the very first day. We made it back to the Hotel without any other incidents. The car run very well, even in very hot condition. A few issues need to be sorted out nevertheles. Rev meter not working, accelaration cable, cylinder heads need to be tighten, fuel pump seem to have an issue, overall car inspection, buying some water, paper roll, snacks... Roadbook, Garmin GPS download, medical briefing, overall Briefing etc.

And in the evening, treat ourself to a Peking duck - lecker 

Both days went by in a rush. So is my intup today because tomorrow it’s time to start our engine... time to get serious. The rally start at 07:00 am at the Great Wall, first day 600km!

I need to sleep now, good night everybody 

Ladies & Gentlemen - start your engines

Two days have past since the last blog news. Two very exciting, but also exhausting days. Starting with the first day at the Great Wall and ending at the Mongolia border, where we are going to cross tomorrow. From tomorrow on the really hard days will begin. We will have to conquer the desert...  

But let me quickly go back to our start at the Great Wall. A dragon dancing ceremony wished every car farewell and good luck. Also did a crowd of friends, family members, all came from far away to see their beloved starting their long adventure. Every car was waved off with the Chinese flag and off went 110 cars. First day over 600km! Not an easy beginning, maybe the organization wanted to give the competitors an impression what will be coming the next 36 Days. And they truly did! At the end of the day 15 cars were already in trouble, one car demolished when the driver run her Volvo into a wall. That caused the cancellation of the hill climp test for the remaining cars which did not got the chance to drive the test, therefore were giving the average time. We were the lucky ones and we got placed in the overall FIRST position. Promise this will be the last time you will see our names on the top of the list. There are a lot of powerful cars with good drivers and great ambition to win. Not us - we want to get to Paris! Not more. 

The first stage ended in Hohot, now a big city while six years ago a small village with just a few houses. Within six years it has become a big and an ugly city too. High buildings everywhere. Some finished but empty. It’s called Chinese speculation! The Hotel accommodation was as good as the Shangri-La Hotel in Peking, the buffet huge but unfortunately the food not so warm. No worries, we were so hungry since only a shared banana was our meal during the whole day of long driving. We went to bed early - no time for a new blog- sorry! 

Today was a more easy day, the biggest one getting out of the city in the morning. It took us more than an hour! Folks, I will never again complain about the traffic in Zurich. Once we left the city it became hectic for us too. A dirt track stage was the next challenge. Lots of dust, holes but lots of fun. This time we were not the fasted, but not far away. Best time 2.10 our time 2.23. Our little Lancer is missing some horsepower from the Drunken Monkey. That became obvious when driving the rest of the day on new build highways or tarmac roads. We were cruising at 110 km/h while the fast and furious ones overtook us one by one. Well, the Lancer is build to be strong and reliable, not to be the fastest.

Tomorrow is our third day, as mentioned the real adventure begins. And please understand that not every day you will be able to read the latest news from us, especially when we are camping in the desert. There is no WIFI in the desert 🙂 

However if you wish to explore a little more, here a few links:

https://www.endurorally.com/events/the-7th-peking-to-paris-motor-challenge/ 

https://gerardbrown.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Peking-to-Paris-2019/C00009XdZPiwdkGc 

  • Starting line

  • Checking car

  • Map

Serious stuff

The first days in China were a piece of cake, compared to what we have experienced once we left China. Compliment on the organisatIonal skills of ERA. The whole border crossing took over 4 hours, not because of the Chinese. The Mongolian authorities seemed to work much slower.  Once passed the border one immediately realized that Mongolia is for sure still a poor country, but moving fast to a more modern life. Lots of roads are being built. Fortunately there are still these endless path with gravel, sand, dirt, no traffic lights, no direction signs, no speed signs; pure nature where you can only find your way with the help of a Garmin and GPS waypoints which the ERA had download on all the Garmin devices.

The first day in the desert was kind of easy, since some heavy rain during the night had floated the route. The organizers had to find an other route and instead of driving some competive tests, we were guided by convoy into our first camp. What a sight in the middle of nowhere seeing a entire camp with large tents for fooding and drinking, a tent with shower facilities and a little bit outside a few cabins for the private needs... The camp is set up by a special company and run by a German. So all worked as we are used by the Germans. And let me tell you the food was better than in some of the hotels. 

The first night in our tent was causy but very cold. At least for me. I had the get up,in the middle of the night to put a jacket on, but also to take a painkiller pill. My shoulder did not liked the hard ground. Something I will need to work on for the next 5 days in the tent. Claudia disapeared in her sleeping bag and the only thing you could see where some blond hair. She sleep like a stone. 

The following day was one of the hardest rally days I have experienced so far. One special stage after an other with set up average speeds that most of the drivers couldn’t reach. From the starting until the very end, one stage after the other, with no time to even have a pee. Some of the stages were over 120km long. Have you ever been driving 120km in the desert at full speed not knowing what comes next: a whole, a big rock, a dip. One crew must have overdone it. The result: they rolled their Porsche six times. Apart from a broken arm and a cut in a ear, nothing serious happened. Thanks god. Well the car is a wreck, left behind in the desert and who knows what will be left once the truck will be there to pick it up. The way is still very long to Paris and you need to drive with a certain caution. Which WE did. Not overdoing, always in mind that we want to get to Paris! 

It was a hard day, but a day to remember, 420km in the desert. And the car is more or less OK, still having problems with the gasoline pumps, which causes the engine to stop running without any reasons, out of the blue sky. Unfortunately, that happened just after a the start to a special stage. We lost at least 5 minutes. Never mind. Maybe Matt, our friend, has found the problem today on our rest day. Not really a rest day, more a work day on the car.

Tomorrow we are off for 5 consecutive days in the desert, camping and therefore no connection to the world except with the satellite phone. Hope we will be able to report good news after these five demanding days. 

  • First Camp

  • Lucky stones from Janis & ! Luca

  • Dusty Marco

Very hard days...

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. 

The 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! 

Rain & Mud

We left Novosibirsk shortly after 08:00am. Sunday traffic was at this early time very light. Thanks  because we had to get to our first Time Control 190km away from the city within 2 hours. A high average speed of 90km/h forcing us to drive “very fluently” down the road. The weather unfortunately got more and more uncomfortable, heavy rain and wind made the driving tricky. Not to forget the partially bad Russian roads with potholes. We just made it on time and continued our way the the next Time Control another 160km. In total 640km had to be covered, including the border crossing into Kazakhstan. Just after the second time control in a small city called “German village” where, despite the lousy weather, hundreds of people were waiting for us, we had a very challenging time section. The usual gravel road had become because of heavy rain a mud road. Very slippery, water holes you couldn’t see and mud all over the place. Our car immediately turned into a mud pile, trying to plug its way through the slippery mud. It was like a ballet, nearly impossible to keep the car straight, once it got sideways to the left, followed by a sideways kick to the right. A little to much acceleration and the back of the car was trying to overtake the front of the car. 17 kilometers in 12 minutes. For us impossible, we lost 5 minutes and were happy to have made it through the mud jungle. 5 Minutes will cost us 50 second. Don’t know what our position we be after today. But we heard from the others that they had not done very much better. Will see tomorrow, once the results are up.

Unfortunately our exhaust which had already been welded, has a new hole. We need to either welded a new entire plate over the muffler, or try to find a new one. Also our front shocks, especially the left one are banging, if you drive over a bigger hole. Matt has dismounted the left shock tonight and couldn’t find any failures. Well let’s hope we don’t run into having problems with our shocks. There are no replacements in the car...

Tomorrow we see 4 special stages, keep the fingers crossed all goes well.

M & C

Back into Russia

Goodbye Kazakhstan, welcome back to Russia.

The last days in Kazakhstan can be described as: get into your car and drive, and drive and guess what? DRIVE! Nearly every day 500km, between 8 to 10 hours hearing the constant noise of the little 1600ccm engine running like a clockwork. Some special stage inbetween were we did got any penalties and a short circuit test. Didn't drove at my best, I must say. It was early in the morning. Maybe I was still in my sleeping bag dreaming along, instead of behind the steering wheel. 

Taking about sleeping bags and tent. The days are over, no romantic camping anymore, no special toilets, no freezing, no hearing the other guy next in his tent snoring, no using “Travel John” in the middle of the night. If you are curious about what “Travel John“ means , just google it... no further comments. 

We leave Kasachstan with mix feelings. Some sites were beautiful, others not so. Pretty flat landscape at least were we went. Boring when you have to drive this endless straight roads. And last but not least: the people. Unfortunately not really our type. Very aggressive, not really polite. In Kustanay we were kind of welcomed by at least tousand people. The police was unable to control the crowd and we had to literally run away. No way to check out the car. Some people even tried to sit into the car without asking. We would have loved to stay around and make pictures, but we decided to jump into the shuttle bus and have a cold beer in our hotel. 

Talking about hotel accommodations and food. This event proofed so far to be the best. Of course some hotels were not 5 stars hotel, but they were clean. The evening buffets gave the hungry competitors enough choices of various salads, entree’s and main courses. Of course you can get fad up after weeks of ongoing buffets, but their is no other alternative for such an event since some people are arriving on time, some are still out there trying to make it to the hotel and the mechanics still working. So at the end there is no other alternative than buffets. Overall we are very happy and congrats to the ERA girls back in England. 

As mentioned, we are now back in Russia. The border crossing went very smooth. Believe rather unexpected by almost everybody. The special test during the last two days had not been less as previously. We managed to keep our position but once we have to complete on a race track our little car runs out of “gaz”, which means a few more horsepower could help. However, we are very happy even with the missing power, because until today our little Lancer has not let us down. That’s what counts - reliability! Lot of cars have broken down. 

Today we are in UFA, enjoying a rear day. Can’t tell you how much we do, we need to recharge our batteries too! 

Marco & Claudia

Michael Keyser’s comics

enjoy some Michael‘s funny comments... 

Trans Siberia Express

Our friend Andy, the best mechanic with golden hands

The journey, or better the express ride across Russia continued. The driving distances are substantial, averaging 500km per day at least, with 688km as the summit. Of course only partially on highways, mostly on secondary, very often harsh roads, with lots of pot holes. The traffic is becoming more and more busy and the hours sitting behind the steering wheel seem endless. We can’t wait to get to St. Petersburg and leave the crazy traffic behind us. We are definitely back now into modern civilisation. The days of endless path through the desert of Mongolia are gone and are replaced by the endless lines of trucks ....... We regret not being in Mongolia.

The last two gravel tests got us zero penalties and the track tests were, considering the power of our little Lancer, OK. The strategy is to keep the pace, not forcing too much. We gained one position and are now 7th overal, just a few seconds head. Our goal is still to reach Paris, regardless of the position. Of course we would be very proud to finish amongst the first ten, so every day becomes a survival and hope for the best. 

Our Lancer, who has been running like a Swiss clock, started after the rest day, to show a high oil pressure. Matt and Rob, one of the mechanics, came to the conclusion that most probably the sensor of the oil pressure gauge was not working properly and showing wrong numbers. It’s nevertheless very stressful when driving the car and reading sometimes 100PSI on the gauge. Not very comfortable, to say at least and for me kind of stressful. I need to learn to accept that not everything can be perfecto, especially not on such a rally. I get very tight whenever I hear strange noises, see something abnormal. 

After more than 7000km the list of what had to be done or repaired on our Lancer is indeed peanuts, considering other cars:

Problem with the fuel pumps

Adjust acceleration cable

Dashboard felt down

Clean Carburettor throttles

Weld hole in the exhaust muffler 

Check oil pressure issue 

Gasoline gauge not working anymore 

Dead battery due to defective alternator belt

Oil change

Rotate tyres (Pirelli Scorpion - the BEST!)

Signal lights and horn not always working 

Steering gear change 

Gasoline cap sealant

And some engine oil 

Let’s keep all our fingers crossed that we stay out of serious mechanical troubles with our little yellow “Lancer is the Answer” matchbox car!

Today is our last rest day in the outskirts of St. Petersberg. Unfortunately the Hotel is not what we would have expected since from tomorrow on 7 days lie in front of us. The final rush to Paris. The so called rest day was partially taken by checking the car. The rest was taken by taken care of ourselve: hand laundry, shower, trimming my beard, writing this blog and relax! You can also call it: recharging the batteries! We have decided to return one day to St.Petersburg and do a proper tourist sightseeing tour. There is just too much to see for only a few hours. We are on a rally, one has to set priorities. 

For those who are interested in watching some interesting videos, click on: 

https://m.youtube.com/user/heroeventseu  

So long, dear friends

M&C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Russia

The accommodation was, considering that it was our last rest day, not so nice, but we really are the last one to complain. We got assigned to very nice bungalow, but the security to get into the villa was ridiculous. After having passed about ten times the scanner and still getting the warning signal, I lost completely my patience and we decided to get us a room in the main building. Well, the room furnitures was like 40 years ago. Again, we are not complaining, the P2P is a endurance rally and not a luxury tour.

The Lancer needed as usual to be checked. The steering is getting harder and the play too. Matt did some adjustments, but the whole steering box needs to be overhauled. Rotation the tyres, which still look very good. I am a little concerned about the clutch. Hope it will last.

We left St. Petersburg early morning. The anticipated rush hour traffic was not a concern anymore. We got into the highway ring with a few very impressive bridges and view of the modern part of St. Petersburg. The day befor, we decided not to spend time and not to rush through some of St. Petersburg historic site, but instead we will come back on our own and spent a few touristic days. As mentioned, we are on a rally. Priority is to arrive in Paris.

The border crossing took this time more than 3 hours. What shall I say: you need a lot of nerves and patience. 

Into Finland: hurrays! It’s like coming back into civilisation. Don’t take me wrong, we have seen beautiful parts of Russia, namely the north, with very kind people, but the more we moved towards the main cities the less we like it. In short, we are very happy to be from now on in Europe. Maybe also because the exhaustion is paying its tribute and any comfort you can get, helps. Also the future cross boardings, I am sure they will be fast. 

Today we had two very interesting tests in the forest. Believe we gained some seconds over the team behind us. 

Now we are sitting on the ferry from Helsinki to Tallin. Very big and comfortable vessel with lots of food and drink restaurants/bars. Unfortunately we can not enjoy any alcoholic drinks since once we get to Tallin, it would make a silly impression if we can’t find our car and our Swisshotel is a few kilometers away. 

Today was a easy day, believe everyone was happy. Especially me since I got a cold and my nose is running like the small river and my head is bursting. Time for an early sleep, get some rest and hope tomorrow I will feel better.

PS. While visiting a few days ago the city Nizhny Novogarod, the native down of writer and philosoph Maxim Gorky and stumple over one of his pharase:

”Choose your friends with care, for there are people as contagious as disease”

You all are my dear friends, and we look forward to see you, if not tomorro, but for sure in the future. Take care! 

Comics

A few more comics from Michael 

thanks you, very much, they keep a smile in my exhaust face 🙂

Riga

6 days to go. We are now in Riga. The tension is unbearable, Every noise on the car puts me in state of panic. We want to finish in Paris but about 3000km separate us from our goal. I am checking the car every night, hoping to prevent any mechanical problems. The oil consumption has slightly increased mainly due to the headcover sealing. We will not change it and keep filling up oil. The engine bay looks very dirty.

Two nights ago a got a cold which force me to go to bed very early. Some pills, tea and lot of sweat during the night helped. I felt better the next day, can’t imagine if I would had to drive with fever the whole day yesterday. Two Tests yesterday, trying to keep my food under control and just go as fast as necessary. There is too much to loose... still overall in the 7th position and 1st. in class.

The days are also getting warmer, hope that we want get the heatwave Central Europe had.

Today 520km - will get us closer to Paris 

Three countries in one day

522 Kilometers and three border crossings. Of course only had to drive through since we are now in the EU. Left in the morning Latvia, crossed into Lithuania a few hours later finally into  Poland. Poland the country were people like cars and some arrive here in a strange unofficial way. You can also get parts, of course originals of any brands. Since I had some spare time, I decided to switch my engine against a nearly new Ferrari engine found around the corner. Guess what, no complaints any more about not sufficient power. Poor Porsches and all these highly powered cars, from now on they will see only my taillights 🙂

Another day has been accomplishe, Paris is getting nearer.

 

 

5 Days to go

... 5 day remaining, the tension is getting extremely high, the sleep during the night shorter. The brain doesn’t stop to think, even at night. 

Today we have a very tricky and difficult stage, where navigating skills are going to play a major role. A year ago on the Baltic Classic, lots of teams got lost. The whole ranking got changed. Will see what happens today. We have work until 01:00am trying to get an idea where we have to drive. Believe we are ready...

Keep your fingers crossed 

M&C

3 Days to go

3 days to Paris / 3 days never ending driving days  / 3 days which become eternity/ 3 days hope to cross the final line / 3 days listending to every strange noise from the car / Only 3 days, easy to say, if one has not expierience what we have. We WANT TO GET TO PARIS. 

Today we are in Wolfsburg, tomorrow 600km are ahead of us to get us to Liege. I drove today's tests with care and caution, not forcing. You can loose more than gain. Would be great if we can hold our position. Mistake are quickly made. Happened today to the Australian Team on 5th position, driving one lap too much on the morning stage. It cose them there 5th place overall. You can imagine what discussion must have gone on. 

We left early Szczecin to drive only a few kilometres until passing into former East Germany. The visual effects are obviously. All is clean, organized. The roads like heaven... I mean no potholes! What a delight to drive. Everybody follows the traffIc flow, so dId we. No canon balling anymore. We arrived a little bit early than scheduled in our hotel where Claudia’s mom, Rainer her partner and Matthias a friend from Rainer were already waiting for us in the hotel garage. The welcome was very emotional, especially for the two girls... Rainer grabbed my two spare wheels and run off to a tyre shop were he had two new spares waiting. Apparently it was very difficult to find the size I needed. The night before I decided to get new spare tyres, because I didn’t trust the old ones anymore. They showed little cracks on the inside shoulder. Thanks Rainer for your help! Once the tyres issue was done, we all went to an fine Italian Restaurant where Claudia and I enjoyed for the first time some other food than the usual buffets. I treated myself to a plate of spaghetti overloaded with summer truffles.... yummie! After a lovely short evening, we said goodbye. Tomorrow I will need to get up early, since I have not checked the car. A job I will do until the very last day before we get to Paris. This checks I have been doing every evening after since we left China. 

Time now to get some sleep 

2 Days to go

Yesterday- worse day of the whole rally. 600km partially on the highway. Everybody who knows about the Cologne daily traffic knows what that means: kilometres of bumper to bumper. I don’t understand why the organizers choosed the worse case scenario. We just made the first time control with only a few minutes left, the second had time contorl had to be cancelled because almost everybody was late.

On top of it, I blow the test and drove 3 instead of 2 laps. We got of course more minutes on our overall time, but we’re luck to keep our position. No mistakes anymore!

A few of our Belgian turned up to welcome us and wishing us good luck for the last two days. Thanks a lot Mick and Grace for your kind dinner invitation 

Time to go for breakfast 

Marco & Claudia 

Last day

The emotions yesterday when arriving in Ypres were as someone would have opened a bottle of Champagne. The crowd was huge cheering the competitors under the arriving arche. The historical place contributed its part to an unbelievable scenery. It was time to celebrate and congrats even though the rally wasn‘t finished. But the ranking was! Like in the Tour de France, the last day has no competition parts and the aim is to rock and roll into Paris. 

Let’s hope that every team will make it to Paris were an other celebration will release new emotions and lots of tears. We can’t wait to cross the finish line!

M&C 

We made it!

14900km from Peking to Paris, or from China to Mongolia, to Russia, to Kazakhstan, back into Russia, to Finland, to Estonia,to Latvia, to Poland, to Germany, to Belgium and finally to France capital Paris and the famous place Vendome. What a journey this has been, an adventure, a challenge we will NEVER forget. Every day was different, every day our goal was to arrive in the evening to our hotel staying away from whatever problems. Our garden angel had been with us all the time. We are so great full that we arrived in Paris in good health, very exhausted but with proud. Yes, we are very proud on our achievement:

7th Overall and 1st. in our Class. When we put our names into the most hardest rally for old cars, which exists today, we just wanted to arrive in Paris, no more! Unbelievable what happened instead, we not just arrived, no we competed every day amongst the best. The toll: exhaustion, stress, sleepless nights, sore shoulder, dirty hands, colds etc. But once you are into that rally mood, you become like a machine:

  • get up in the morning 
  • Breakfast, eventually make sandwiches for lunch (while driving) 
  • Check if the car runs, check oil, water, alternator belt, wheel nuts, clean windscreen, fold underground sheet (mantadory to prevent oil spots on hotel parkings)
  • Load bags
  • Check out on time
  • Get into the car and drive the whole day (up to 10 hours)
  • Arrive at the hotel
  • Check in and hand in your time card
  • Unload bags
  • Get room keys, dump your bags into the room
  • Mechanical check on the car, at least on hour or more
  • Clean inside of the car (avoiding to drive in a sand box)
  • A short stop at the bar, maybe a a small beer, or mineral water 
  • Wash dirty clothes (we became experts in hand washing)
  • Shower
  • Buffet Dinner
  • Eventually write the latest news on our blog 
  • Go to bed and wake up the next morning to start the same procedure as the day before

This went on and on for 35 days, except on our 4 rest days. 

Now all this is gone, gone within the moment we sawthe checkered flag in Paris and got cheered by the crowd and some Swiss friends, including a alphorn player. We got our gold metal, that only those teams received who made it to Paris without missing any passage- & time controls, regardless if the time controls were during the day or the final one at the end of each day. In other words, to achieve this, you should not really get lost, have technical problems which makes it impossible to reach the next control on time. Even changing a flat tyre could cause stress. Thanks Claudia, what a great navigator she is, she guided me not only on the streets, but also via GPS through the desert. And not to forget giving me the turning direction on the race tracks (par ex. 90 left sharp, closing etc.) It’s so important for the driver when he can rely on his navigator. A Rally is not won just by driving fast!

Now it’s time for us to get out of the rally bubble, back into normal life, back reading our emails, check the news, go through the unpaid bills, start our morning with our rituals, such enjoying a plate of fresh fruits, no stress, enjoy other food than the daily buffets, regain some weight (I have lost 4 kgs), go to the hairdresser, see our family and our friends, remember our stories and our emotions, which will remain forever in our hearts. It has been an incredible journey! 

Before ending our blog, we want to thank all of you for your support and kind message from the bottom of our hearts. We want to congratulate Gerry, our hero and fastest driver with 87 in the world and Matt his navigator for winning for the third time this very hard rally. What an great achievement. We also want to thank all our fellow competitors sharing with us 35 challenging days, but also wonderful days. We hope that one day our roads will cross again.

Last but not least, we also want to thank our dear friend Matt Bryson who build our car, a little match box car. Little but strong and very reliable! Thanks Matt, you contributed a very big part to our success, we own you a big hug, respect and we will be always thankful for:

THE LANCER IS THE ANSWER! 

That’s is, God bless you all 

Hugs

Claudia & Marco

14942km, from Peking to Place Vandome in Paris

Lucky bringers

Happy girls

Party time