The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2007
May 27 - June 30 2007
Fettling and Servicing
Novosibirsk is a modern busy city and we are now spending the day fettling and servicing, sweeping out the dust of Mongolia. For many, more fundamental repairs are being carried out in a nearby Land Rover dealership.
The Singer Nine got here with broken steering, the car being steered by two luggage straps tied onto the front of the car, pull the left strap for a swing to the left, tug on the right one for right turns and despite the hectic traffic, umpteen traffic lights and roundabouts, the car made it in without incident and new steering is now being fitted. Resourcefulness and invention is clearly a major ingredient for success on the Peking to Paris.
In the car park it’s more general servicing for most. The VW Beetle of Matthew and John Keeler is having a major re-wire with the help of a local garage who has come to the hotel to assist, following a fire which burnt out several essential wires, but the crew seem in good spirits. The Austin 16 of John Vincent and Edwin Hammond has now been given a freshen-up with the rear brakes sorted – the petrol tank shield shifted, braking the rear rod-brake system, but being rods and not hydraulic is “simplicity when it comes to replacing a broken rod.” A rear spring was found to be broken and this has also been sorted. The Studabaker (pictured above) of Tom Hayes and Andy Vann is doing well in the classification and requires little more than a general check-over, David Ayre with the Itala says much the same thing but he is totally covered from head to toe in oil. The Rawlings Talbot has had news shockabsorbers this morning, wheel bearings tightened up and a good grease-up.
Gerry Crown in the big Buick reckons he is back in the hunt, the car has been trucked into Russia, the rear axle has been welded up, and a new steering box fitted and he’s grinning again.
For the crew of the red Jag Mk2, the car is now just inches from the top of the leader-board in the Classics section but the heavy engine and lack of pukka rally-prep has taken its toll, after broken spring hangers which were a regular weakness when this car was being rallied in the Sixties, the car now has broken engine-mounts, and was overheating badly on the run into town.
Car 22, William Erickson and Steven Dole, Buick Pickup, has just arrived and is rejoining the event. The Spurlings are planning to re-join with their Morgan, which is amazing news, but Marc Rollinger reckons his big La Salle won’t be arriving today but plans to stay here and play-catch up once the car arrives by truck. A two-inch split in the side of the chassis of the French team in the veteran Brasier has now been completed and this car will be running again in the Pioneer Category, the crew are still up for a Silver medal.
Heroic rallying corner: How about this for Effort Beyond The Call of Duty: The scruffy old Vauxhall Prince Henry which looked like stitching up the Pioneer Category with a commanding lead suffered no less than ten punctures in one day, a 400 km section of rough gravel in the middle of Mongolia, and, to ad to the crews woes (one of many crews to get punctures on Blockley tyres – which run better according to this crew once you bang up the pressures to 60 lbs) they then split the radiator. With no sweeper mechanics in sight, they drive 40 kms off route to find a lake, fill the radiator, solder it up so it stops leaking, driving back the 40 kms to rejoin the route. Wow – they lose their lead but are still 8th, and now plan a fight-back. They are also eligible for the scruffiest car providing they get it to Paris. They deny their run of punctures is anything to do with lose wire spokes dropping onto the tubes, but fixing no less than ten punctures on top of a split radiator (a common occurrence throughout the entire event) in the heat of the desert surely ranks as an all-time record, deserving of some kind of special Mongolia Medal, “ for commitment to a mad cause.”
How the medals work: To qualify for a Gold Medal you need to re-start every morning, clock in every night, and go through a number of checkpoints and time trials which are designated medal-controls. The timing for the Pioneers is more relaxed than the Vintageants, and the Classics have a tighter schedule.
Provisional Results (subject to change) reveal that there are four Gold Medal contenders in the Pioneer Category, (two Ghosts, and two Italas). There are 17 Gold Medal contenders in the intageant Category, and eight in the Classics Category, making a total at this stage of the event of 30 Gold Medals at stake. There are 21 up for Silver medals (a slightly more relaxed criteria). To get a
Bronze medal you need to start from Peking, get to St. Petersburg when the Time-Control is open, and clock in at Reims, and finish at Paris.
There are additional time penalties for those who arrive on the end of a tow-rope or on the back of a truck in that a car has to be driven on its own wheels into and out of Time-Controls. Always a contentious issue, it’s a tricky issue when you consider that someone on the back of a truck has an easier time at missing a Time Control than someone like the Vauxhall Team who slog their guts out and still miss a control, but do so without having chickened out and found a truck-driver. Shit happens, and at the end of the day those who solve problems the hard way have less concerns with their conscience, and so surely sleep better at night (well, so they should, they are more tired out than the rest of us).
As it’s a day off, it’s time for recent results to be reviewed and the number of cars up for various Medals is something that can be questioned, so a busy time for the results-team of Chris Bruce, Lee and Sue Vincent. The mobile w
orkshop teams have had some time off – they have been going through the night in their “sweeper” role for days on end so a day-off is welcome respite for them, but crews needing serious work have found a number of local workshops.