The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 1997
September 6 - October 18, 1997
Bulletin 06 - Keep on climbing
Friday/Saturday 12/13 September
Koko Nor to Golmund 580 kms
A short climb away from the Koko Nor through rolling green hills to Caka salt lake, then through a typical central Asian landscape and broad irrigated valleys flanked by barren mountains, before dropping to drive along the edge of the Tsaidam, strange region of desert, swamp and salt pans. Some of this road will be dirt and gravel.
Golmund to Tuotuo Heyan 439 kms
Golmund marks the start of the 'Roof of the World' section. Although mainly tarmac, the road across the plateau is constantly being repaired because of the severe weather conditions and diversions and delays are to be expected. Ground clearance is important on this section. First there is the long steep climb up to the Kunlun Pass (16,000 ft) the scenery is awe-inspiring with expanses of snow and moorland pierced by numerous peaks. Tuotuoheyan is an army barracks on the Tuotuo River, one of the major tributaries of the Yangtze.
Information received from section to Tuoto Heyan
The air has been thin throughout this section of the route as the cars pass over roads way higher than those any normal motorists would ever encounter. Even though the roads have been almost empty and some of the tarmac sections are quite good, the older cars have found it hard to keep to the schedule. An average of 50km/h look easy until you try to keep it up over difficult, unknown roads, hour after hour, in an old car...
Many competitors are reported to be exhausted; similarly members of the organising crew are suffering, working at full stretch, day after day. Rally chief, Philip Young, reports that he has never felt so tired with the combination of the punishing schedule and the lack of oxygen.
The German-crewed Rothlauf/Walter Bugatti Type 40, with just a 1500cc engine, continues to amaze by remaining 'clean'. Similar performances from Gerhard Weissenbach in the Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 and Etienne Veen/Robert Dean in the Mercedes 630K also astonish the drivers of more 'suitable' modern cars who have accumulated penalties. These three pre-1930 cars headed up the results sheets at the Tuoto Heyan time control on Saturday night.
The La France is still running but Harmann Layher, who describes himself as "Hermann - The German", has suffered a dreadful day in bitter conditions, sans his co-driver who has hitched a lift elsewhere. Chris McKenna of Discovery Channel reports that Hermann drove himself too far and was hospitalised after suffering severe hypothermia. He has recovered and maintains his resolve to continue, come what may. If he can survive the next couple of days through the mountains, things should get easier for this amazing competitor.
Although many competitors have picked up penalties, no more retirements have been posted although several cars soldier on in less than perfect condition.The Brooks/Brooks Buick (Car 22) has had a troubled time but is reported to be still running, albeit in in 81st and last place, ahead of the eight cars running in the touring class. The other Buick, the Clark/Hughes '46 Sedanet has also lost a day but still features on the time sheets at Tuotuo Heyan.
Just one of the clutch of tough little 2CVs remains unpenalised - the Van der Laan/Graal Dutch crew making the most of any downhill sections to recover from the uphill struggle with their 700cc motor.
Results information at Tuttuo Heyan issued at 19.51 on 13/09/97
The current results show 34 cars unpenalised in 1st place with a nominal 'penalty' of 8days 0hr 0min, representing one day's penalty for each day of the event elapsed so far.
Of the 8 cars entered in the touring category, all are still running