The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 1997
September 6 - October 18, 1997
Bulletin 20 (Day 31) - Piston fixed...
Monday 6 October Hamadan to Tabriz 565 kms
Another day through mainly agricultural countryside. Many little villages and towns and plenty of opportunity for a cup of tea and something to eat. Good roads all the way. Tabriz, the last stop for us in Iran, is a large industrial town with some good shopping and eating houses.
The crew of the British-entered Morris Minor, which appeared out of the running with a holed piston, have pulled off a virtuoso performance in roadside repairs by stripping their A-series engine, persuading a local mechanic to weld up the defective piston and bolting the ensemble back together again. They are running again in 60th place with nearly four days in penalties to run with. How good the welding is will become apparent in the course of the next two weeks.
While the Morris Minor has made it to Tabriz, one of the four Italian crews on the event has not been so lucky. Franco Ciriminna and his Fiat 1100 Cabriolet (No 19) are stuck with a reported broken driveshaft. They had been running well with a consistent slot in the thirties.
The Dutch MG YB (No 49) is another car to have enjoyed a miracle repair. A 30-thou grind of the rattling crank was sufficient to persuade a set of Toyota big end bearings to fit. The car is now running better than ever and has slipped only to 49th place.
Daily Telegraph correspondents, Francesca Sternberg and Jennifer Gillies, are smiling again having almost completed a rolling rebuild of their Volvo Amazon during the last three weeks. The latest tuning option - the fitting on new springs and dampers - is reported to have transformed the car.
The Prior/ El Accad Railton (No 16), one of the earliest cars still running, has elected to take extra penalties and is cutting straight to the Iranian border to minimise distance with worsening engine problems. This example is being followed by the Arrigo Team Malta Allard (No 27).
Howard Bellm, whose Camaro has run consistently well so far, has a worsening clutch problem but a fix was planned overnight in Tabriz. Brian Ashby's Delage has a leaking fuel tank and he has been grateful for the endless supplied of free petrol throughout the Iranian leg. The application of chewy sweets to the hole apparently provides the most effective means of reducing the leak.
The Surtees/Bayliss Jeep continues relentlessly in the lead. It is immensely strong and in being very well driven. It is reported still to have two unused spare tyres still slung on the back and the crew look fresh and confident.
The Noble Bentley Continental (No 61), if it continues to run to its present form, looks set to get the award for the most penalised finisher. The Nobles' habit of not stopping at time controls has netted them more than 11 days in penalties so far... They maintain they are having a great time nonetheless.
Penalties at TC48 Tabriz (part 1) from first place:
Penalties at TC48, Tabriz (part 2)