The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Rally Day 4
I've attached a couple of videos to this report that I hope give you some idea of what driving across Mongolia is like.
Most of the time it's a fairly straightforward if very dusty track but every so often there's an oh sh**! moment when a huge dip, rock, sandbank, pot hole or other hazard appears -usually too late for the driver to react.
Team rhubarb and custard is tending to travel at around 40 Kmh with occasional bursts at 50 Kmh. Some of the competitors must be going 50% - 75% faster, maybe more. On our first time trial we had a maximum of 76 minutes to complete the course and we took 60 minutes. The fastest time was 22 minutes.
But, whilst going fast looks fantastic and probably feels wonderful it doesn't do the cars much good and six competitors arrived in Ulaan Bataar on flatbed trucks. Many more need tyres, springs and welding repairs.
Navigation across the desert is by waypoints. Essentially an arrow on our dashboard points the way and you follow the arrow - it's simples. Or not, because there are cars all over the place and some even arrive at the checkpoints from the wrong direction. Is it bad to say it's quite fun to see the dust trails of other competitors way off in the distance heading God knows where?
After the desert trial section Rhubarb and Custard developed a mysterious engine problem - power would drop suddenly but come back on if we switched fuel tanks although both tanks had the same fuel. We suspected that dirty Mongolian fuel has given us a problem.
However all that was for the morning. A hotel, hot shower and proper dinner waited for us in Ulaan Bataar.