The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010
September 10th - October 16th, 2010
SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2010
Semey to Usharal
We crossed out of Russian into Kazakhstan today, with slick border-formalities thanks to the prior planning of our agents, Kyrgyz Concept, we were across the Russian exit, and through the Kazak customs and immigration formalities in a matter of minutes. An easy run on good tarmac roads for most of the day, with no timing, has ensured everyone has been able to plan their day to get into Semey by mid-afternoon.
Rally HQ is in a run-down large concrete hotel that has seen better days, a hang-over from the Communist era of some years ago, and out in the dusty car park, Scott Greenhalgh is fretting over a water leak from the bottom hose of the Alvis, but as it hasn’t actually lost any water all day co-driver Patrick Walker is minded to carry on until repairs are actually needed. Alex Howard and Dominic Collins in a Rolls Royce Phantom have a slipping clutch; the MG SA of Maurice Timms and John Hastie is running well with few problems other than broken shockabsorber mountings – his list of repairs since the start can be written on the back of a postcard, including losing rear brakes, hole in the petrol tank, severe axle oil leak, cracked chassis and the need for a new water pump…. ”we are having a brilliant time,” said the driver.
The Alvis of Michael and Anne Wilkinson has the bonnet up receiving adjustments to the engine timing and reports only minor bothers in what has been a remarkably reliable run so far.
Saddest news of the day is that it looks like the end of the road for the BMW Coupe of David and Sarah Rayner who are retiring from the event with engine problems.
We hear that the La France is back on a truck after unsuccessful welding in Khovd, and going to Almaty, so too is the Renault 4CV of the Drinkwaters. Car 60 remains something of a mystery as we have not heard from Douglas Mackinnon and Anastasia Karavaeva for over a week but we hear that the Chevrolet Speedster had an under-bonnet engine fire at some point and was on a truck to catch up. Car 77, Vilnis Husko and James Kabrich in a Dodge D11, failed to re-start this morning and we are also awaiting news.
As some crews were arriving into the Belokurikha hotel well into the early hours, after a delayed border crossing and very long drive, it was decided to make today a relaxed transit day. It has been another day of glorious sunshine and mostly traffic-free empty roads. The Turist Hotel has no bar, and neither does the restaurant where we are having dinner later this evening, a test of initiative for thirsty travellers. However, the crew of Car 51, the Stutz M Convertible Coupe of David Berks and Robert Bradfield, has arrived with a bottle of Russian vodka presented as gesture of goodwill from a traffic-cop who had stopped the car in order to take a photograph of himself with a Peking Paris entrant. If only every roadside policeman was as generous…