Samara to Paris

Day 21 to Saratov 460 km
Early start at 8.00, again time trials today. So probably an easy day for us. Deadline to arrive: 16.21 plus are starting position which makes it 16.32 hour.
This became the worst day since we have left Mongolia. Almost all the way broken tarmac, potholes, repair patches much higher than the old road surface, extremely deep groves carved into the tarmac by trucks, everything you can imagine. The day was getting hotter and hotter. We learned that it was 37 to 40 degrees in the afternoon and some cars had overheating problems especially in stop and go traffic in towns. Then at about 3 o’clock and 150 kms to go, our first puncture on left rear wheel. Well, we have to spare wheels, but they carry Michelin tyres, which are a bit wider than the Bridgestones. That prooved to be a mistake. We had to put one front tyre to the left rear and the two spare Michelin to the front. Fortunately a few minutes after we had the Car liftend up in front, a service arrived and with their hydraulic jack the changing of the wheels was done in a few minutes. We arrived in Saratov at 16.26. I jumped out of the car and ran to the controll desk in the hotel lobby und get my card stamped. No penalty points! Udo had parked the car and had already organized help for our broken luggage carrier. Two corners and on of the stands had enough. The organisation had asked via internet for help and a young lady speaking german and englisch perfectly had organized someone who disappeared with the broken parts of the carrier and returned with the welded carrier. 300 rubels were the fee.
Meanwhile we searched for the reason of the puncture and found a lovely 8 cm nail. We exchanged the punctured tube with a new one, minutes the wheels and carrier back on the car, had a short dinner and went to bed. At least I did. I was finished. We both had a bad night. Udo still suffered from his hang over, he couldnt sleep the next night because of my constant caughing and this night prooved not to be better. No good basis to make the next day to Voronesh.
Day 22 to Voronesh
7.00 o’clock starting time for no 1. We are on position 11 since Novosibirsk. Due to experience of yesterday we expected the worst. But it was a nice day. Good weather, in the morning a bit fresh, during the day getting a bit warmer, some drops but we did not close the hood. In the afternoon there was a time trial on 8 km of soft tracks on farmland. It was not difficult to drive, no hidden cross tracks, potholes etc. I did not press on very hard and Udo was not satisfied. We could have done better, he said. The way back to main road was not so nice, tarmac with plenty of holes. Overall the route rolled up and down the hills, through wide farm land and finally into Voronesh and to our hotel at river Voronesh. The hotel was OK, Udo got an extra room to get some sleep. The shower in 8th floor was cold, but i heard that everybody was complaining about a more or less cold shower. The girls behind the bar obviously were not able to handle the crowd. No ice cubes, not enough glasses, the service took hours to bring what we wanted. Didn’t they know we were coming for over a year?
The attitude of the hotel team seemed to be: please go away and leave us alone. Other than that it was a nice day.
Day 23 to Charkiv 380 km to the russian border and then another 50km to Charkiv.
As usual a very early start from the hotel. Everybody was on its own, first passage control at the race and training track near Bolgorod. You had to be there at 11.30 plus your start number. We unloaded our car and a few minutes later we were in the line of the starters to go 3 laps on tarmac and then 1 lap on the dirt track. The tarmac was great fun! We made every meter in 2. gear at very high revs and for our small car we were pretty fast, not much slower than the leading cars in our categorie. Then a deep breath and the dirt track was attacked. Our light car did as good as possible with the small tires in the deep but dry dust and dirt. With full throttle and moving like a drunken sailor from one side of the dirt track to the other. After the finish line the car looked like after one day in Mongolia. Nothing of the car wash in Voronesh was left. We watched the other cars on the track for a while and then went on to a lunch break in the next town organized by the ERA in a shopping mal. We got a very good italian style lunch. The race track parking as well as the parking aerea at the mal was again crowded.
We got to the border and the border passage this time was very quick. Less than half an hour, unbelievable! On the ukrainian side of the border another passage control of our rally. The road book was stamped. A small mistake concerning the position of the next passage control in our road book led to confusion on our side. We heard and thought that this was it for the day and drove satisfied about this wonderful day to the Palace Hotel in Charkiv.
We did believe it but on the way to the car park thousands of spectators were watching the arriving cars, big applause for everyone, stooping at the finish line, get out of the car, photos on each side with young ladies in historical local dresses. What a welcome!!!!!
We were guided to our parking spot, unloaded what was needed for the night and checked into the hotel. An extra room for Udo, because I still did not want to disturb his sleep by my cauphing in the morning.
After dinner we looked to the rally board and we did not believe our eyes. We were positioned down on 15th and had a late charge of 12 hours. We missed the main time control in the hotel lobby. We tried to explain why and asked gently for a correction of the penalty. Obviously we were not the only team with this misunderstanding and our pledge was granted. They scrubbed the 12 hour penalty and we were back in our old position in the group C2. What a relief!!!
In the hotel garage our TC got another good car wash and in the next morning we could hear: Hey, you got a new car flown in overnight! That is not permitted by the regulations!
Day 24 to Kiew 460 km.
The start again at 8. 10 for our car. Hundreds of spectators again that early warning US a good bye, taking pictures of the passing cars. A policemen on every corner cleared the traffic out of town for us. Without any problems we could leave the town. The weather beautiful, blue skies with white cotton ball clouds, not too hot for a nice summer day. After a few kms the route left the main road to Kiew and the road book showed us the the beauties of the countryside. The very bumps roads we got for free for the next 200 kms. At position control no. 3 Udo took the steering wheel, because I was tired being concentrated not to hit one of the many potholes, which were very hard to see when the shadow of trees made it difficult to see them in time, so we hit quite a few. At control point 4 the road changed to completely new 4 lane tarmac. Driving on paradise roads, the best we have had on the 8700 kms.
Guardian angels proctected us. On control point 4 some cars already had arrived and many people gathered to see them causing a minor traffic jam. We got out the car, I got my control book stamped, while Udo took care for the car. We wanted a tea and may be something to eat, but the
” Restaurant” was so crowded, the service crew completely unorganized, we decided to on and find another cafe down the road. Meanwhile it was very warm. I stowed my wind jackett underneath the hood canvas and on the 4 way lane. After 150 kms we got close to Kiew and decided to refuel, We were not sure, how much fuel we had in the tank since our instrument did not work for whatever reasons. We filled the tank with 48 liters only, we told that our fuel consumtion was less than 10 liters / 100 km. I wanted to pay, searched for my belly pocket which should have been in front of my seat. Nothing! All money, all documents, gone!!! What a disaster!!! We searched the inside of the car, nothing. By chance I looked to the folded canvas of the hood and our luggage carrier and there it was, sitting there for 150 kms without falling out off the car. A small miracle and I was happy as a child. The final kms were the everyday traffic jam of these big towns. There was a big bridge crossing the 3km wide Dnjepr River, a few more km along the river to downtown Kiew and we reached the parking lot of the Kiew Fairmont Hotel.
Day 25, rest day
No rest day for us! We knew we would better look after our car and check every detail if we wanted to make it to Paris. The workshop we found suitable for us fortunately was not very far away. We lifted the car and found both shock absorbers mountings ripped out from the bolt eye. Everything was welded back into position. We hope this will last for the next 3000 km. While I was replacing the upper leaf of our front springs to improve the suspension activity, Udo took care of the rear axle and inspected the half shafts. He decided to exchange the left side which was worn out much more than at our last inspection in Novosibirsk. He also fixed the fuel meter.
The workshop owner asked for about 130€ for half the day plus two mechanics. Some tips for the mechanics, some photos and back to the hotel. While I relaxed in the lobby, Udo was taking nap because for the night before again was very long.
It was too late to do sightseeing, so many rally friends were sitting in front of the hotel, watching the people as they admired our cars and posed for fotos.
Anette and Lars Rollner car no. 8 from Danmark were happy to have gotten their Bentley differential repaired and were now back in the race. They invited us and some others from Australia and Norway to a restaurant right around the corner. It was a great evening, we had wonderful ukrainian specialties, some beers and too much wine. Thanks again Anette and Lars !!
Day 26 to Lviv 530 km.
At 8.30 we had to be at the Kiew race track about 20 kms out of town. We unloaded the TC to get rid of extra weight, Udo took the steering wheel and 9 minutes later Udo showed how fast a TC can run. I got a hold in my seat tightend the belts and started to pray for 6.36 minutes for 3 laps. I think we used up more tire profil than we did in the complete rally so far. This run put us one position up. In our group ranking. Putting all luggage back into the car, Udo detected the front spring bolt on left side to be lose. As we could tightend the bolt that secures the spring to the frame, we took it out and found the bolt to be broken. As we exchanged the spring leaks yesterday we reckon, that the mechanic tightend the bolt too much and it broke at the week point where the grease channel goes through the bolt. Within 45 minutes the cross member was removed, the broken bolt end removed and everything was put together . According to the amendments of the day, there were no further position controls and we could take the direct road to Lviv. A perfect new road, 4 lanes over long distances. Although being late we could take a break at km 280 and we arrived in Lviv at 4.30. the day was hot, pur sunshine, few clouds, almost no shade. We were tired, but entering the center of town a hug party was going on. We drove through the applauding crowds into a big party tent on to a stage, a short interview and out of the tent around a few corners to our hotel uphill situated next to a wonderful park.
After a wonderful hot shower we made a walk downtown through the park, watched the cars that were exhibited, had beer and a schaschlik and went back to the hotel.
Day 27 to Kosice in Slowakia 350km
Again because of very bad back roads the official route was cancelled. The news from the car that checks the route 2 days ahead were: undrivable conditions.
We were advised to use the main road to Uzgorod near the slowakian border. 280 kms. Good roads with a russian/mongolian intermezzo. The border crossing was quick, no complications, no delays. We had to wait until 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the parking aerea of a shopping mal until all cars had passed the formalities. Then the first time trial of day: 8 km on backroads in the nearby mountains. Again lining up and about 1 hour waiting time until the police had blocked the road for safety reasons. It was an uphill and downhill track on more or less drivable tarmac with a lot of curves and many hairpins. With the fully loaded TC naturally our time was not the very best. 9.36 min. Only 20 kms to the hotel in Kosice but just at border of the town a short but very heavy rain shower flodded the streets. The parade into town guided us into the walking streets of Kosice, again many people watching the cars pass by slowly. Every car was introduced by a speaker explaining some details.
The hotel in Kosice was situated a bit uphill overlooking a very beautiful park. We walked down to the center a had a look to all the cars the people of Kosice had to present. Obviously another rally from Poland was in town too at the same time. There were many very interesting and precious cars.
A beer or two, then back to the hotel and to bed.
Day 28 to Bratislava
This day was planned for 4 time trials
Start 7 o’clock. Out of town and after about 50 kms the first trial on very bad road uphill and downhill, length 15 km. Udo took the steering wheel and drove like hell. Result: a good time! But no good noises in the rear axle. 50 kms later next trial, Udo again, we finished in good time, but after this trial the rear axle did not work correctly anymore. For us the diagnosis was clear: the differential is damaged. We rolled through the 3. time trial and the noise from the axle got worse and worse. We jacked up the rear end and inspected the left half shaft. The teeth on the half shaft that go into the diff looked used but good, so but it back in and decided the go to the time controll on the high way to Bratislava and to try to reach the MTC ( main time controll) at the end of the day. We had a hard time to push the car towards Bratislava. On the highway we moved forward very slow and especially uphill we could not go faster than 5 to 10 km. Finally we decided to leave the highway at a point where the roadbook wanted us to to go to a the Slowakia Race Track, about 50 km away from Bratislava. Right after we had left the highway and at the first little hill, the TC gave up. Two minutes later car 20 arrived. The original car no. 20 was a big Delage which was left behind in Ulan Batar. He bought a Nissan 4 wheel drive pick up and continued the trip. For the rest of us this was very good, because the Nissan crew has helped many broken teams. Today it was us who needed a tow and for 80 km our TC was towed to the race track just in time to get the controll book stamped without getting a late penalty. On the track our canadian cowboys from Edmonton gave us the next tow to the hotel in Bratislava. Fortunately we were staying in the same hotel.
As we had not eaten all day long, I organized something to eat and some tea and took it down into the garage while Udo jacked up the rear end and had pulled both half shafts. Surprise! The left hub was loose on the half shaft and the key securing the hub on the shaft was completely gone. Thus the force of the engine just rotated the shaft within the hub.
We have two possible explanations. 1. the cones of hub and shafts were not matching precisely or
2. the key was too high or the groove for the key was a bit too flat.
We took a new half shaft plus a new hub and 15 min later Udo took a test drive in the garage. No noises from the differential. We could have done this repair on the side of the road. IF we would have found the mistake!!!!! Nevertheless we were happy.
Day 29 to Schladming/Austria
The day started with rain, but crossing the border to Austria a beautifull complete rainbow appeared. We took it as a good sign!
Well, the first trial on a small training race track was a desaster. I was copilot and gave the wrong instructions. We missed one lap. That was it.
The road book guided us along the Neusiedler Lake, then into the mountains and on the end of the day to Gröbming near Schladming. There was an uphill race track about 8 km long and about 1000 meter difference in heigth. The road was tarmac but wet from the rain and the view in the upper part limited because of rainy clouds. We did very good on that track. Udo said we did the 4. best time, but I don’t know exactly. When everybody who wanted to do the race was up on top, the hole group was driving down carefully and slow to the Sporthotel.
We decided to send everything we would not need anymore back home by DHL. The hotel manager promised to manage the transport of a spare wheel and to big camping bags. We estimate 50 kg less weight in and on the back of our car.
Day 30 to Davos
Without the extra load behind our rear axle the first time trial in the morning up to the Planai – again 1000 meters uphill on gravel track- our car again did very well. We had breakfast in a restaurant some hundred meters away from he parking aerea. Breakfast was great and it was nice to relax again, when we realiter that MTC was in the restaurant and our controll book was in the car. I run to the car, started the engine and drove to the restaurant as fast as I could, jumped out of the car and handed the book to the officials exactly on the minute. No penalty!!!!!!
Downhill again, fill up the car, many valleys, many mountains, beautifull views, some time trials on the way to Davos. Finally the Flüela pass and we arrived in Davos in time. Davos was crowded with retired Bus tourists. On the ranking list we moved up a position due to breakdowns of other cars. We call it the postmongolian stress syndrom!
Day 31 to Gstaad
The schedule in the road book promised to be a very long and tough day. Oberalppass, Großglockner up on one and down on the other side. Then trial on the old cobble stoned Glockner road, 8 km hairpin after hairpin max time 11 minutes. We 7.11 min. 7 min was the ideal time set by the organisation. Down the main road again and into the next valley and up the Nufenen Pass in 2400 meters, snowwalls meters high on both sides. Down to the Rhone valley again. We passed the queues in Sion by using the bus lanes illegaly, but in spite of the protest of the swiss cars waiting in the queue we had to go on quickly due to the very tight time schedule. We were late 1 minute on TC behind Sion. The hill climb to the ski resort Tzoumas 1600 meters, a time trial uphill on dirt track to the to on 2200 and down to Verbier on the other side. A very foggy downhill drive in the beginning then some sunshine on the way to Lake Geneva, uphill again doing the Coll de La Croix in direction Les Diablerets, down into valley and up again the next pass on our way to Gstaad.
We arrived in time in our hotel the Gstaad Palace Hotel, a very noble but old fashioned hotel with a perfect room service. I dropped everything to the floor of my room and when I returned after dinner everything was put into the right place. My wind jackett on a hanger in the entrance, my bag on the carrier, my sleeping stuff nicely arranged on the bed, fresh towels etc. Perfect service!!
Udo told me that we did the overall best time of our group of this day. May be this is correct, because we drove like hell, passed all Bentleys especially going uphill. I wish the car would have 20 more HP and better brakes.
Day 32 to Troyes
The weather was cold but nice, no rain, some sun later in the morning. We passed beautifull sceneries, hills, valleys, great views again and again, but no time to stop. Near Neuchatel a short two lap time trial on a small training race track and then up on 1700 meters crossing the Swiss Jura mountains. On the other side a PC with free tea, coffee and some food organized by the Swiss Motor Club. Thanks for that. We took 15 mins to relax and went on to the french border. No passport controll, just drove through slowly. On side roads another 260 kms to Troyes. There was some rain in the aerea, but fortunately we missed it. Now the crowd is sitting in the Bar after a nice dinner, some beer, some have Champagner already. Everybody is happy, more or less, depending from the personality. Tomorrow our final drive to Paris, starting at 9 o’clock.
Day 33 to Paris
It was raining a little bit, but the weatherforcast for Paris promised sunshine at noon. The roadbook guided us on narrow winding roads to Fontainebleau and then into Paris. After some waiting minutes the overall winners of both categories were escorted to the place Vendome. The rest of the cars followed and we got a very enthusiastic welcome by the crowd and by family members naturally.
The day ended with a movie about the rally, a slide show, the dinner and a price giving ceremony.

From Peking to Samara

I already wrote that Chinese blocks Face Book, google, wordpress et al.
Now luckily arrived in Ulan Bator everything is easy on the internet.
Day 1 to Daihai:
we started from Shangri La Hotel in Beijing 6.30 in the morning. It’s raining. So hood stays closed and off we go to the Chinese Wall about 60 km away. We missed the first oft turn, but we realiter this very quickly and fortunately the street signs are written in readable latin letters too.
We arrived in time, took our position in the starting line and at 10.15 the first car was send to the long trip to Paris, but without a fabulous good by party performed by a group of teenager boys and girls and traditionell Chinese Dragons, drums and everything else to make big noise to Keeper the bad ghosts away from this trip.

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The first part 100km were an easy highway trip, then about 150 km reasonable roads with a lot of bumps and really deep potholes, speedbumps without sense, we had crossed underneath a railway bridge with a flodded street about 50cm deep and filled with brown muddy water. We made without getting our rear ends wet but the mud was now everywhere. Philip Young watching the scene shouted: do it again! We did’nt.
Have a look into Gérard Brown photoshelter
Then the road book asked for left turn in a place where there was no road. We followed a path which was sometime we thought: this must be an error. But it was a real nightmare. 40 km no road, pure rocks, partially under water, potholes deep as a bathtub. We passed trough and thought: OK it can’t come worse! What an error!
We made it to the hotel in Daihai in good time. Some service checks, no oil, no water needed. Udo detected the front wheel bearings to be to loose. We took away a thin shim on both sides and Udo was satisfied. The we detected a tiny crack in the lowest corner of our fuel tank. nothing to be really concerned, no dripping, just you could smell some fuel. A wonderful shower, dinner, a beer and to bed.
Day 2 Erenhot 500 km:
Starting time 8.00:.
Streets were decent for China but again plenty of potholes, bumps and other risks like chinese Car drivers. They see you in the rear mirror, slow down, you want to pass, they accelerate, open the windows and ask: country? which car? while take plenty of pictures. Fortunately there is not much traffic in this part of the world.. You pass them, they follow, they pass you, wondow open, now the person on the right side wants to take pictures and ask Udo the same questions again. You are enough if the hole procedure is not repeated. The landscape is getting dryer and yellower every hour and its getting hotter.
So far some facts were really surprising to me: in the country you see only very poor, partially wrotten houses or huts made from mud or new buildings with 10 or more floors very without any sign of life.
You see any bycicles! So the song: there are ten million bycicles in Beijing – is not realistic.
Except of the chinese faces there is nothing special . Everybody copies the west. So the big cities look closer to New York than to the China in our imagination.
After 8 hours we arrived in Erenhot on the border of China.
Udo checked the front wheels again and this time he was not happy with the drag link on the left side. We exchanged the week drag link with a spare out of our spares box. The a chinese car wash to remove at least some of the mud and dust of the first two days.
While we were early to bed on the parking lot a real fair was going on, families, teenes, The hole town was there to see the cars, us, to take pictures of the cars, of us with the car, together with us and the car, even inside the car, sometimes without even asking.
Day 3 to Altanshiree 400 km
8.00 again lining up on the chinese/mongolian border. It took us over 1 and 1/2 hours to get trough. First military check of the passport, lining up again in the hot Sun, no shade, fill out the paperwork, than the drivers were guided back to their cars, waiting until every officer had got his picture with possibly every car and then finally into Mongolia. This was easy, show the passport again and off we went to the starting point. From now on the Garmin decided were to go. the tarmac ended in dozens of sand tracks of the desert to choose from. First time trial: about 40km on dirt and Sand tracks. Cars were overtacking, disappeared in clouds of dust. Slowly we got used to this type of driving and gained speed. Our overall time was not bad, but the roads got worse with every mile, there was a new road available, but driving on this surface with the corrugations was impossible. We had the feeling this would shake our car into pieces.
So we had to choose from dozens of tracks and always the track on the right or left seemed to better. But they were all bad. Back on to the new road! Corrugations! Some of the other cars, the american car, the citroen and others were going on high speed on the unfinished new road. Back to the tracks. We made may be 20 km per hour. Short of being desperate after having done about 150 km- a miracle – a completely new road with a wonderful new pavement for 80km, then the village of Sainshand. Of the tarmac back on sandtrack for the 130km with the next time trial. Just before we started for the the engine died, no fuel. Udo kept cool, sucked the fuel – what a wonderful taste – and everything was OK. We did a decent time on this second trial and we pushed very hard with 60 km speed over dirt tracks. We made it in time about 20 minutes before our deadline.
The day ended in our first camp under mongolian skies.
We build our tent leewards to the car in respectful distances to our neighbours not to disturb their night by our snorring. The camp was pefectly organized by Nomad Tours. Shower, toilets, washing facilities, dining tent, good food and a nice cool beer.
The night was very windy or better stormy, but with 90 kilo guys the tent stayed behind the car.
Getting up early with the first sun, packed the car again, breakfast and at 8.00 next start into the 4th day.
Day 4 to Ulan Batar 400km:
Right at the beginning the first time trial over 85 km. The track was pretty good for mongolian tracks, sometimes 1 lane, no passing possible – with our car – sometimes several lanes. We did an average of 60 km/h, the best we could get out of or car. We crossed a railway, then followed a short distances a new road, to find out that we went the wrong way. Off of the new road and cross country through an village, some huts, jurts, dogs, kids, goats. We found the right way and followed the arrow on the Garmin, the road parallel to the railway. The track of “best” quality, as described before. We were doing 40 km/ h for the next 120km. Slowly we were running low on fuel, time to find a gas station. In the next village we zick zacked for ten minutes until we found the station. 30 liters, enough to get to Ulan Batar. We took a short break to ease ourselves a bit.
Finally we could go on a very nice tarmac road heading to the capital.
The final control warned us about heavy traffic in the town. As soon as we passed the city limits the road were horrible again and the traffic was really heavy. The most Important part of every car is the horn, which you have to use constantly. No rules, no signals, spaces between cars wider than 50 cm were and invitation to others cars to cut in without hesitation. At last we made it into the big and modern Djingis Khan Hotel. As every day a big crowd gathered around the cars. Again Photo shootings with the family, the kids set into the cars, etc.
The Bentley from Hamburg parking next to us had big problems, the mechanical breaking system was out of function. Impossible to repair.
Day 5 was the first day off. Many cars needed help and the Saturday was ” Childrens Day”. On this day officially nobody is working and the drinking of alcohol is strictly forbidden. So, were to find a workshop. There was a long queu in front of Mercedes. This shop was Booker by the ERA in advance. No chance for us and our partner team from Australia. He had rear axle problems and needed some welding done. Our car had broken welding on the anti torque lever arm. This was done quickly . The aera near the thermostat was pretty wet. We thought of exchanging a gasket but then we only had to tighten the clamps od the upper radiator hose. On our parking place in front of the Hotel entrance Udo inspected the underside of the car and found the left rear shock lose. The big nut was gone. We replaced it with an new one from another well equipped australian car and added locktite for security.
We took a taxi to a large shop, like a mall, and got two pairs of glowes for our SA MG friends and new glases for us. The admirers of our cars obviously had sticke fingers. Udo’ s gogles were gone and other competitors complained of missing cell phones etc.
Day 6 to Bulgan 430km
The day started beautifully. Fine weather, fresh air, not hot, a perfect day for the farewell ceremony on the center place of the town. A military brass band was playing very good music. Some officials said something to the crowd. I stayed close to the car and kept an eye on our belongings.
At first o good run on new tarmac, with sudden potholes for 80 km, then on to tracks again.
First time trial. We were going very good, tired to pass the scottish brothers in their Bentley, choose a track to the right and within seconds we got stuck in aerea of swamp in the middle of dryness. 50 meters to the right a car from Switzerland had gone the same way and got stuck too.
All 4 wheels were in the air, mud and water. We measured the depht of water – about 50 cm.
No way to get the car out without help. Some mongolians arrived with their 4 Wheel traction,we waved at them and got closer, discussed our Problem, but refused to tow us out.
Luckily the friends from New Zealand of car No. 9 arrived with their new Toyata. Their car had to give up right behind the chinese border. Big end damage!
1and1/2 hour later we were back on the track, but the Gold Medal was gone. The reglementation says, if you use more than maximum time in Gold Medal trial, the Gold is gone.
Well, that’s the rule.
Second time trial. We we going strong and the track was not too bad. I put my foot on the brake – no brake. On we went to finish this trial without penalty using the handbrake and engine brake. We made to the end of the trial. I parked next to Rhys who was taking a short brake and there was the next problem. Water was dripping from the radiator, but could not detect the leak. Udo opened a bottle of a special radiator leakage liquid and the miracle became true – it stopped dripping.100 km more to go with handbrake only. You learn how to drive without an brake.
At the camp in Bulgan, Udo was searching for a length of brake pipe. The only pipe he could get from the Service was 4.75 mm copper lining, we needed 6mm. It’s good to have Udo at hand. He managed to carefully prepare the ends for our 6mm system. We bleeded the rear brakes and it worked. We filled a bit of water into the radiator, checked the oil, the wheels, etc, dinner and to bed. i may not forget to mention, that in the moment when we arrived at the end of the 2. trial, the clutch in the SA was gone. The same problem as in the P 2 P 2010 happened again. For the SA team that ment to remove the gearbox the get to the slave cylinder inside the bellhouse. No way to get this repaired in Bulgan.
Day 7 to Möron 340 km
In the morning everything was ready for the start. 20 minutes to go. i stepped the brake and the foot went down to fire wall. no pressure. Sh………! Everything behind the seats out of the car, the plate behind the seats covering the rear axle out, testing the brake and there was the mistake. I did not tighten enough one of the pipe nuts. Now it worked. Everything back into place and 2 minutes before our starting time we were on our marks.
The tracks got worse and worse. Rocks, sand, undescribable surfaces. The first cars had to give. At the end of this day 4 cars rolled over. No harm to to teams but 3 had to give up. The japanese Datsun was damaged on the left side and roof, but with the windscreen taped to the frame it could go on. At the end of this day, we were really tired. The camp site was on the banks of a nice river with green meadows. Up to now this was the hardest day.
Day 8 to Telmen Lake 300 km.
No time trials today! Because of the accidents on day 7 all time trials were cancelled. Too dangerous track in the mountains. The track as bad as ever. Driving on a more or less aerea we had to climb up into the mountains. The beginning was a very steep hill with about 30 to 35 percent. then we climbed in serpentines up to 1900 meters. Beautiful scenery, sunshine but not hot, egales in the air, sometimes voltures were circling high above us, waiting for some victims? Plenty of dust, from the wind, ourselves because is not dustproof from the underside, or the cars that passed us. We made it to the big Telmen Lake in time, build up our tent as good as we could, because of the strong winds coming over the lake in 2000 meters heigth. Nomads on horses and Motor cycles with loud stereo music were watching these crazy foreigners. A final check on the car, dinner and into the tent. A short storm in beginning and then a quite short night. All together a good day. The evening check on the car showed that our front are now convex instead of concav. Only two cm left between the axle and the bumper rubber. We decided to leave everything the way it is, because we do not want to ruin our spare main leak spring until Novosibirsk.
Day 9 to Chjargas Lake 290km.
Good start at 8.10. We followed the road book and choose the ” best track”. No need to describe to tracks. Then the road book said: sandy tracks. And it was indeed sandy. Again a Bentley in front of us. Again we made a mistake. We should waited until nobody was in front of us. But we were in first a good speed trough the sand when for what ever reason the Bentley stopped next to a big Chevy. And was it. Stuck again! The service team towed us out to stabile surface. Fortunately it was not during a time trial and 15 minutes did not harm us. On we went. together with some other cars we took the wrong track and found ourselves about a kilometer away from the right track. some cars turn around and went back some other tried to go cross country. So did we, but after a while going downhill there was this dried out river with very steep banks on both sides. we followed the river banks in a safe distance and finally dared to go across. we made it – just. And we learned to ease the ang go with a copilot on board. Two time trials during the day. We really did not care very much as the Gold was gone anyway and we decided that we not ambitious enough to ruin the car for a better ranking. To the end we found a new street, which we followed as long as we could. Then we went of the road and cross country to find track we could follow to the camp on the border of Chjargas Lake. Unloaded the car, build up our tent, checked the car. I took out the seats to remove as much of the dust as possible without a vacuum cleaner. Udo took care of the technical aspects and found besides some lose bolts and nuts, which were easily replaced. A broken engine mounting on the front left side. Udo cleaned the broken aerea and drove the car to the camp welding site. The mongolian mechanic did a good welding job with his stick welding. Udo watch him very closely.
While I was waiting and guarded our camp site a short but heavy sand storm tried to blow our tent away. As it was down to ground anyway I set on it and waited until the strong wind ended.
Fortunately I did not yet have had a shower, because after this short sand storm I could have showered again. I was told that one of the rally administration ladies was under the shower when the storm blew her shower cabin tent away. After a beautiful warm shower, a good meal, some tea, refuelling the car, some small talk with the gents and ladies in the neighbourhood.
Day 10 to Uureg Lake 260 km
This day was very nice. We followed a road under construction but not on the road directly but sometimes besides it, crossing over to the other side and so on. Some tried to drive on the road but every kilometer you were forced to go off because a big wall of mud, gravel and rocks used to block the road. You would never know when was the right moment to get off the road, which ran up to several meters above the surrounding desert. Once in a while the road book directed us on to when when there was finished part which we could use. 1. time trial over 40 km. We had a good run. Then again a tarmac road with some potholes which led us to Ulan Gom a small city. Few km after having passed the town the book advised us to turn left back into the mountains. We climbed on a rocky track uphill to the next time trial check point. We got stuck in the middle of a big herd of cows, sheep, goats and camels. Moving slowly forward, using the horns constantly we opened our way through the animals.
The run uphill lasted 16 km and ended on top of a very steep hill. We got to the top in 1. gear revving over 4000. Other cars in our group had to zickzack to get to the finish line. Then 20 more km downhill to the camp at Uureg Lake. The lake is still partially frozen, so the water is pretty cold. It’s a wonderful scenery, the blue lake, the hills around and the snow covered mountain tops. The air is warm, as long as the sun shines. When the sun goes down it becomes very fresh in very short time. So this day was a nice day for all of us, who made it to the camp without damage to the cars. As every evening the wind got stronger, our tent more or less blown flat to the ground, but with the car in luv we had somewhat a cold and short night.
Day 11 to Russian border, only 240 km.
This was very suspicious! Only 240 km? Start 8.10 for us. The track, pur rocks, followed the shore line of the lake and turnend then after a while into the mountains. Again phantastic views, but there no time to relax. The Rocky Rocks turnend into a mixture of sand and rocks, the Sand very deep and like tak powder and the rocks with very sharp corners or edges. On a pefectly flat desert the first time trial. We followed the arrow on the garmin hoping to choose the right track. We were driving pretty fast for our little car when unvisible tracks crossed our path. Our car was making a terrible noise as we hit this crosstracks at full speed. The cross tracks got us three times. Later on we heard stories about other cars going more than 100 km/h had broken rear axles, broken shocks, suspension, etc. After having passed time finish line for trial after a couple of hundred meters our C car started making weard movements. I stopped and there it was. The double spare carrier was broken on both sides and was just held by the center rail to the car. We removed the clamp and strapped the two wheels plus carrier to the rollbar. Doing this many cars passed us. We followed the cars as fast as possible. Again sand, rocks, deep sand, pure rocks, deeply washed tracks with the center very high. Our protection shield got beaten up terribly. Again into the mountains up 2200 meters. A real road with everything we hated. Corrugations, big rocks everywhere, washed out lanes, no way to make a decent speed. We were creeping for hours in 1 and 2. gear doing 10 to 15 km/h. We thought the nigthmare would never end. Then downhill a real town, wit a couple of Meters of wrotten tarmac. Not very long and the tarmac ended and still 80 km to go to the camp. We climbed up a pass on dirt tracks, which usually was better than the unfinished corrugated gravel roads. A steep downhill track on the other side. One car passed us gave sign to stop. ” you have lost your license plate!” ” we know! ” thinking that everything was strippend the luggage. But the license plate plus rear lights was gone. No!!!!!!! We turned around again uphill in desparation. The next car was getting closer. ” Hi, we found your license plate” we could have kissed these guys! But we promised some beers instead. We lost the plate right after having left the tarmac going out of
town. Finally we made it to the camp very close to the mongolian border. Udo went to the welder and corrected the twisted carrier tubes until fitted again. You can’t weld cast Iron very well, but there was no other choice. Our chromed luggage carrier was broken too, we welded this too and corrected the position of the left tank strap.
Day 12 to Aya 540 km.
The night really was cold! – 5 degrees Celsius. The water in the bottles was frozen and so were we. Some drivers were afraid about their cars and started their car before 5 o’clock. So, most of the people got up earlier than necessary. As this was the last night in a camp many crews slippend their camping equipment. So did we. We said good bye to our old tent and left the camp heading for the russian border.
This is the moment to express our deepest thanks to the people of Nomad Tours. They did an exceptionel job to feed the competitors, build the facilities, tents, hot showers, etc.
We lined up at the mongolian border and after 2 hours the first cars were able to proceed to the russian border. We are no. 10, so we were in this group. At least ten different officers Inspekteur, checked, double checked, stamped, signed and controlled us, our passports, the car documents.
After 17 km we had passed the no mens land between these countries. A russian military post, gave numbers to wach car, all documents were completely and prepared. We the help of a russian travel agency and with the very kind help of their translators, we passed the custom procedure in 2 and 1/2 hours. As we heard later on, the last team got through at 4.00 in the afternoon and still had 500 km to go. All trials naturally were cancelled.
Aya is a rising star in the russian touristic business. Hundreds of people were waiting for every Car coming in. We felt like movie stars, Local TV Interview, kids waiting for autogramms, photos with the competitors, Ladies posing next to the dirty cars, a real fair. Last checks on the car, something to eat and to bed. A real bed and a long shower to get ride of the dust.
Altai region Looks very familiär to Austria or Switzerland, but better because no tourisme,vollgebaut, no people, just pure nature.
Day 13 to Novosibirsk 540 km.
Plus 3 time trials. The good new road led through the beautifull foothills of the Altai mountains. Trial 1 was offroad on a not closed track into the hilly farmland. 16 km on deeply washed tracks with the big hump in the middle covered with gras and maybe hidden rocks. As our skid pad was already beaten up enough in Mongolia, we decided to take it without stress and we finished without damage. Back on the main road and off again into the more and more flat countryside. Trial 2 and 3 on deep sand tracks. In 2. gear we took the first and second part in a good time for our car. We must swallowed quite bit of sand and dust into our car and into our lunges. The trial followed by gravel roads with “everything you want”.Trial No. 4 was cancelled due to a closer bridge under construction. Nobody very sad! We continued the good road to Novosibirsk where we arrived at 6.00. Another hour in the heavy Sunday afternoon traffic of this siberian metropole. There are 11,5 million people living in the aerea, I was told. Novosibirsk is an ugly place, bad streets, no nice buildings, except the old railway station of the Transsiberian Railway. Our 25 floor hotel was good and clean. But I really can’t say much about Novosibirsk.
Day 14 in Novosibirsk, day off.
The russian support team did a great job to arrange repair shop for the needs of the competitors.
A group of four, 3 australian teams and our car were taken to workshop you Never would take your car for service. But they were very friendly, kicked out all other customers and the wohle workshop belonged to us. One australian team in a Holden was a father and son team. Believe it or not: the son had taken evening school lessons in russian and japanese, so we had a translater and we were all good friends. We intended to clean our car and to do the usually checks, but the we found the right engine mounting broken. The twisting movements of our car obviously were so extern, that the engine supporting plate broke in the right corner were the engine mounting bolts go into the rubber. We welded it back nto place. The Udo checked all brake drums, because the rear axle was doing funny noises, but everything, bearings, drums, brakes seemed to be OK. The right front wheel Udo did not like, so we exchanged the front wheel bearings. After having cleaned the car as good as possible we left the shop heading to the hotel. After 500 meters the passengers in the lane next to us were pointing to us that something was wrong and indeed a big puddle was underneath our car. We turned left drove across the railway bed of the tram next to us, waved to traffic to stop, crossed all 3 lanes of the opposite traffic to get into the parking lot of a automotiv shop.
We opened the bonnet an found the clips of the hose from the radiator to pump had slipped up. The Clips were correctly positioned again, Udo bought some radiator antifreeze liquid, the Level was filled up again and we tired to find our hotel again. We got lost in this big city. As we tried to find a Taxi to guide as back to the hotel, I said: I know we forgot something in the workshop! It was the warning triangle and much worse, the crank for the car lift. Somehow we managed to find the way back to our workshop. Being back again we took the chance to left the car once again and found two holes in the exhaust system. One behind the squized muffler and one right at the end of the flexible exhaust. The rear was welded, the front hole got a wrap. We waited one hour to let the wrapping set as required, got some nice tea and cookies from the machanics, took pictures of the four cars, the crews, the mechanis etc. We paid about 2300 rubels for our car for the hole day, we tipped our mechanisch extra and we were all good international friends.
A taxi got us home to the hotel. We went out for a russian dinner. A mix of german, canadian, australian men had good fun and we got home late.
Day 15 to Omsk about 670 km.
Because of the weather situation all trials were cancelled, so it was an easy day for all of us. We hit the road at 7.45. and arrived in the evening rush hour of Omsk at 6.00. Heavy truck traffic all the way to Omsk. The weather a mixture of a bit of rain, to real heavy showers, some sun, especially in the late afternoon. But it was cold until 12 o’clock. We took to brakes. The road was a bit boaring, the landscape flat, flat, flat. Decent tarmac, we good go between 70 to 100 km/h. We closed the hood and found the air resistence being much less than in the open car. Nevertheless we got wet when the rain was too heavy. Arriving in Omsk we had the same fair as everywhere. Hundreds of people gathering, another TV Interview, many question, photos.
We had a good dinner in he restaurant of the hotel, we shared a bottle of wine with our danish Bentley friends. Tomorrow starting time will be 7.15 to Tyumen.
Day 16 to Tyumen 630 km.
Out of bed at 5.30. Get things packed, load the car, breakfast, routine checks on all weldings, oil, water. The fuel tank in the right lower front corner still a bit wet as before, stinks bit, but no real problem. We crossed the big river Yrtisch, as wide as the river Rhine near Cologne, the longest siberian river going North into the Polar Sea. Roads are new and good, the sky promised a nice sunny day. Wonderful brise, not too warm, pale blue skies, not a single cloud. We are rolling into the width of Siberia, flat country, a few rolling hills, birch tree woods, meadows, swamps, some endless wide fields. Plenty of trucks heading in the same direktion as we do. The trucks usually dont go faster than 80 km/h and can pass with 90 to 100 easily. After 250 kms, things changed. The route got real russian, old sowjet style. Wrotten tarmac with real deep grooves formed by the heavy trucks, tarmac patches, sudden potholes almost as bad as in China. Construction sites with queues a kilomter long, truck behind truck. As there was no oncoming traffic we passed these queues in second lane and squeezed in into the waiting trucks as much close to the head of the queue as possible. The truck drivers did ‘ nt mind. They were honking their horns and waved to us and had fun tacking pictures. Due to the rainy situation of the last week in this aerea today two out of three time trials were cancelled. As we arrived at the end of the afternoon at trial number 3, this was cancelled too. Nevertheless we had to go slowly on the dirt track and found the decision of the rally manager correct. Deep grooves in the now dry and hard fields probably would have destroyed some axles, exhaust on cars with too much ambition.
Arrival in hotel with upgraded sowjetic charme in middle of Tyumen at 17.30. We got a small and clean room. The interior in youth hostel style, the bathroom 1.50 x 1.50, the walls to the neighbouring rooms made of cardboard. The home call of the neighbour may be would have been very interesting. Being a gentlemen I left my room to search Udo who was in the parking lot helping desperate US-car owners. As we entered a new time zone, we gained one hour of leisure time. After dinner everybody was sitting outside in the evening sun on the steps of the hotel front doors. The mood of all participants was depressed, because one of our cars was involved in a traffic accident on the way to Tyumen.
Day 17 to Yekaterinburg 360 kms only.
The rally officials declared this day as transit day, so no time trials, or position controls and time limits. Just a touristic trip again. We got out of the heavy traffic in Tyumen within half an hour. The road was good the first 100 kms. Nice landscape, mostly flat, sometimes woods, farmland, some hills. The sun was very warm but not hot. We stopped in a small town where we visited a motorcycle museum. They presented 30 to 40 motorcycles, a prewar Harley, a prewar Zündapp, a BMW and a Royal Enfield. All other russian motorcycles were more or less modified copies of the BMW. On one of the passage controlls we detected that the tank is now dripping, a drop every 5 seconds. We took some soap and pressed it into the leaking corner. it worked. The road got worse the skies got darker and darker and then we were n the middle of a heavy thunderstorm. The floods filled the worn out tracks quickly, so we had plenty of water from above, from below and as a nice gift from a passing SUW from side too. Thank you very much!
Getting closer to Yekaterinburg the traffic of this 1,4 million town got heavier and it took us 1hour to go to the Hyatt Yekaterinburg. It is the best hotel we had so far and our room in the 10th floor shows a beautifull view over the town with the golden towers of their churches, especially the Holy Blood Church. We checked the leaking tank in the car park. Mud, dust and soap did a great job. In spite of the heavy rain the mixture of soap, oil and dirt fixed our problem.
Day18 to Ufa 550 km.
Start at 8.15. the route took US out of town quickly and after about one hour we crossed the Asien/European border. The Position controll stamped our controll book, some pictures of the monument and back on the track again. It was cold this morning!! I had to out on another fleece veste to keep me warm. Since we left Novosibirsk I have to caugh a bit. It does not bother me much, but I better be carefull.
The Ural reminds me very to the hilly aerea in the center of Germany but everything is much wider as at home. Somehow the dimensions of the US comes to my mind. In the late afternoon a time trial was replaced by an average speed section. We had to go 50 km/h on gravel over a distances of 11,7 km in 14 minutes. During this section somehow the hand operated button of the tripmaster must have touched of the glove compartment, because in the middle of the section the tripmaster zeroed. Our calculation were a bit rough now, but me made the 11,7 kms in just about the right time. At the end of the day into Ufa again heavy truck traffic. The day ended as usual. Car check, find the room – this time very small – take a shower, dinner, a short walk to car park to have a look to the other cars and their problems and then early to bed to get some sleep.
Day 19 to Samara 530 km.
Got up at 5.00. Breakfast, load the car again, get the controll book stamped and on the road at 17.14. Again a very cold morning! 10 degree celsius but open skies and no rain. Going south the landscape changed from hilly woods into more of an agricultural country. Huge fields, meadows, many farm houses without signs of life, rusting machinery everywhere, stables of given up mass animal production. The roads today presented themselves in all categories, from very good to axle breaking potholed tarmac to gravel tracks. On gravel we can go 40 to 50 when there are no corrugations. On tarmac our speed exceeds the permitted 90 km/h but the problems is you dont know you can expect behind the next corner. Our experience is: be carefull especially on bridges, there are always big steps, humps or deep transverse grooves in front, in the middle and behind the bridge. We already learned this in China. It got very warm from 11. oo on, we stowed some extra sweaters underneath the folded hood and took several tea breaks during the afternoon. We arrived at 4.45 in the Residence Hotel car park. This time we got a nice room with a double bed. Hm, Udo and I are good pals but in a double bed? No! We moved into a twin bed room on the fourth floor. The good news is as we are going west that we gained two more daylight hours today. For these who have problems to fix this is very valuable time. For us its the chance to sit In the lobby and to have some extra coffee. Udo joined a group of Australiens and New Zeelander and returned to the hotel very early in the morning.
Day 20 3. repair and recover day
Many cars are in constant need for repair. Some leave on the back of a truck heading for Kiev, to be able to continue the trip after being repaired with flown parts, or even mechanics. After one week of absence one Porsche joined the rally with a new engine coming directly from Switzerland or England. Another swedish/norwegian team arrived from Ulan Batar. They had broken their rear axle on day 6 and have now plenty of stories to tell. Actually not being part of the rally in these days they have seen more of the people and the country than the rally members.
I let Udo in bed until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but then he had get up because we neede a special oil additiv for our differential. We searched the internet for a Jeep dealer, took a taxi and after two hours of explaining, magnified pictures of the bottle from the internet, we had the part number and then it was easy to find the bottle in spares department. The oil was added to the differential and no more ugly noises from the rear end at sharp turnes
Up to today our damage /repair balance is:
Day 1 tank crack – no repair
Day 2 exchanged drag link left side
Day 4 left anti torque cable mounting broke – welded
Day 5 tighten clamps of upper hose head to radiator – easy
Day 6 left rear brake piping rubbed through – replaced by not correct tubing
radiator leaks – liquid radiator repair fixed this problems as long as the water does not boil.
Day 9 broken engine mounting left side- welded
Day 11 spare wheel carrier broken both sides- welded and secured with strong pack straps to the roll cage
Day 12 give the engine 1/2 liter oil – little oil loss where the distributor goes into the block, no oil consumption
Day 14 exhaust welded and wrapped, front right wheel bearing exchanged, drag link on right side tightend, right engine mounting broken – welded, clamps of the lower hose radiator to water pump had to be repositioned
Day 17 tank drips – soap
Day 20 oil for rear axle

The day before

Today was a very busy day for almost all the participants. Everywhere Open bonnets, cars on jacks,
Engines being reved or in idle. We had to adjustier the clutch pedal a Bit, found a small leak in the petrol line and exchanged the standard half shafts with the Ines we got from Bob Grunau.
The scruteneers arrived, everything was OK except the Break Lightshow did not work properly. We shortened the little spring between the pedal and the switch and the scruteneer was satisfied.
We test packed and rearranged the load, because there was now the extra bag with all the tiny bits and pieces, cables and electrical equipment etc.to be stowed away.
At 15.00 there was the briefing. Actually a repeat of last novembers training at Gaydon.
Finally we got the information that this time there will be no Skytag available, because the Chinese decided that the Yellowbricks where confiscated. The ERA was not able to explain that we are not spies, which are travelling in their country!
Tonight there will be a nice dinner, early to bed, breakfast at 5.00 in the morning, 60 km to the Start
a starting ceremony and the first car will be to leave at 8.00.

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MG CC China party

This is what the Chinese MG friends have planned! Thanks Mr. Shen Lingfeng!!

Hi guys:

This is the itinerary I have arranged for you ,hope you will enjoy it.If there is any part you want to adjust,feel free to let me know.

5-24

10:00-11:00 Visiting SAIC factory accompanied by MGCC China’s volunteer

13:00-17:00 Parading by more than 10 mordern MGs, from Pudong(the place where had hold World Expo. 2010), and then across the downtown area of Shanghai, finally to the destination: GREEN HOUSE-the headquarter of MGCC China.

17:00-19:00 Having dinner

19:00-22:00 The Night of UFO, we will hold a casual party for you, we can chat together. You can share the story of “Peking to Paris” and introduce your vintage MGs to the members of MGCC China.

5-26

13:00-17:00 Meet in the MG’s 4s-shop in Peking(I will send the address to you when SAIC tell me), you can do a “spanner” check before you start the rally.

5-28

8:00 To say goodbye at Badaling Great Wall

 Best Regards

Shen Lingfeng

MG Club China

and here is the original web page news of the MG CC China

http://www.mgclubchina.com.cn/News/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=98