The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010
September 10th - October 16th, 2010
OCTOBER 9TH, 2010
Kozakli to Abant Lake
Smiles all Round, again…
Adrenaline has been flowing well today and there is a happy throng in the bar tonight recounting the tales of a what has universally gone down as simply a great day’s rallying.
What has made the difference – and there was still a mind-numbing 500 kilometres to knock off between hotel stops today – was the insertion of a string of off-road Time Trials, on narrow tracks that climbed and dipped, twisted and turned, over the rolling hills of the Turkish plateau, ending with a big surprise… a drive in the snow.
We are now at a fine hotel beside Lake Abant, near Bolu, and before dinner the buzz is all about the test-sections. There were three today. Two others had to be cancelled – the first because it was too muddy, and a steep slope would have defeated some of the older cars – and the second was discounted as impossible to run as recent pipe-laying work meant that one side of the track had been dug up, making it too narrow. Some early-morning course-car work enabled a swift decision to keep in the route, but turn test-start Controls into Passage Controls – where merely a stamp to prove the route had been complied with, kept everything on track. The final three Time Trials proved to be “absolute hum-dingers” which is Bentley-Boys talk of the sort you get from William Medcalf, second overall in the Vintageant Category.
The last test was the shortest, but the must demanding, with constant, free-flowing open bends, ending with cars cresting a ridge and finding it had snowed today, and all around was a carpet was white fresh snow. Fastest over this was Steve Hyde in the yellow Fangio Coupe who set a time of 12 minutes dead, just pipping the Aston Martin DB5 of Andrew Honeychurch by 4 seconds. Third best time was Rudi Friedrichs in his Alvis, 16 seconds clear of William Medcalf's Bentley. (For more information, go to the results page).
Car 48, the big Chrysler of Michael Thompson is back in the running, we reported that the road-side repairs of Simon Ayris had sent worrying rumours back to base-camp that the flywheel was coming adrift.
This was nothing more than a gearbox malady, a chipped cog had sent a piece of metal into the valley of another cog and the knocking this caused was tremendous, “at first you would think a big-end had gone,” said Simon, who soon had the Chrysler on its way.
So, here is a short run-down of the leading positions of the three Categories:
First overall in the Pioneer Category for pre-1925 model-types, is Charlie and Nellie Bishop in their Vauxhall 30-98, on 219 hours, 22 minutes, 16 seconds, and in line for a gold medal, the only Pioneer crew still qualifying for a Gold Medal.
Second is Max Stephenson and Carl Watson in their Vauxhall, on 233:47:18; and Nicky Bailey and Janek Mamimo in the Buick is third.
In the Vintageant Category, Steve and Janet Lyne are on 197 hours, 25 minutes, 41 seconds, well ahead of the the William and Victoria Medcalf Bentley on 197:52:43, with Michael Thompson and Andrew Davies in the Chrysler still on for third. All three are up for a Gold Medal. It’s close for fourth, Rudi Friedrichs in the Alvis is mere minutes ahead of Alastair Caldwell’s Alfa Romeo 6C, despite the Alfa presenting the driver with daily mechanical challenges.
The all-girl crew in the Plymouth, Rachel Vestey and Suzy Harvey, are now back on the first page of the results, having had a totally depressing day yesterday …if someone had shown Rachel and air-ticket she would have had her many bags packed, brought down with electrical worries that gave no headlights, and a carburettor that failed to respond to the throttle pedal, so no power.
Today, things are different – from 15th, entering Mongolia, the girls plummeted to 35th, and then set about working their way up, and today they are grinning as they have gained a few places to 23rd. “The throttle is working and so is everything else… a brilliant day.”
In the Classics division, 78-year-old Gerry Crown, the veteran Australian rallydriver deemed too old to hold a Chinese driving licence so had to be listed officially as the “co-driver”, has a handsome lead with young Matt Bryson alongside him working the clocks… they are on 182 hours, 42 minutes, 35 seconds, with All Turkish Team on second place, with 183:57:24, in the fibreglass Anadol 1600, and Adrian Gosden and Andrew Honeychurch finally getting their act together and really making the Aston Martin DB5 fly… but over an hour adrift.
Fourth in the Classics division is the Holden of Greg and Liz Newton, on their first timed rally – they lost time when baulked by others on a muddy climb yesterday and were far from happy, but having built up a handsome class lead, are able to hang on as class leader.
The general verdict is best summed up by Steve Hyde: “Things simply can't get better than this… a wonderful day, from start to finish.”
Tomorrow is a “transit” day, with no timing, taking us just past Istanbul, and a short-driving day is promised with an afternoon off. Hmmm, where have we heard that before?