June 20-27, 2019
Some 3700 kms in 5 days of driving !!
|Preparing to leave Bannoe Lake|
|Heading out of Bannoe Lake|
limit wear and tear as much as possible, we even got the Time Control guys to run along beside us and give us a rolling start on a couple of occasions ! Interesting ! Heading out from Bannoe Lake, we were warned of Police presence on the road, and duly got pulled up, along with many others. They told us to turn around, and it was somewhat unclear as to quite what they meant - Were we being arrested, or, because other rally cars who had
|Car sculpture at T-Ring|
|Villages along the way|
wooden houses, often with brightly coloured roofs - Maybe bright blue or green paint is cheaper than the more normal subdued colours ?! Ufa is a big city, so coming into town with no clutch was obviously hard on Ashton, especially since we were split into 2 hotels in Ufa, and came past the wrong hotel first, so after stopping we then had to start again to get to the correct hotel.
Once we were at the hotel, it was confirmed that our clutch parts had arrived safely, and once their delivery had been "arranged", Ashton set off with a guide to find a mechanics shop so he could start work early in the morning.
|Searching for a horn in Ufa|
It was a tough day for Ashton, made worse by the fact that on the way back to the hotel, Gidget suddenly developed an electrical fault that left him stranded. He suspected the cut out switch so by-passed it, after which she ran. We presumed that had fixed the problem, but as we found out later, that was not the case..........
Once back at the hotel, we found the new horn was not working properly - it was on when it was
|Very Blue house beside the road|
|Salavat Yulaev statue in Ufa|
|Bus boys hauling rally tyres|
|Someone catching up on sleep|
sight you often see at Hilton Hotels, but around the Ufa Hilton today was a frequent site. And a 109 year old steam car having a full engine rebuild is also something not often seen in a Hilton car park ! Meanwhile, some people who shall remain nameless apparently had a good night on the town, and on their return were consequently unable to locate their hotel room - So they caught up on the sleep in the lobby !
|Older houses around Ufa|
There were some long days ahead in order to reach Finland, but at least we now had a clutch !!
Day 22. Ufa to Kazan. 611 kms. We checked out of the Time Control and headed out of own, happy to have a clutch once again - Even if it did need a slight adjustment to stop it slipping. But only a few kms down the road, Gidget just died - The same issue Ashton had yesterday that he thought was fixed, but evidently wasn't. We were on a busy freeway, but fortunately were able to find a slip road that enabled us to get at least a little way out of the traffic. We tried all sorts of things - But unfortunately we couldn't find the electrics bag which contained our little multimeter so we could check everything. Several other rally cars whisked past, but then Doug and Mike McWilliams in their S1 Bentley kidly pulled over, and, despite this delay causing them further penalties, came to lend a hand. And they lent us both their little continuity tester as well as a multimeter, and we eventually determined that it was actually the keyed ignition switch that was the problem - seemingly due to Mongolian dust again ! Once that was shortcircuited, Gidget fired up, and after we had put all the wiring back together we were on our way - With a many grateful thanks to Mike and Doug.
|Heading across Russia|
Next item was a cross country timed stage, but as we were so late, no marshals were there, but we followed the route anyway - Quite a fun little course - Shame we missed it. It was only later that we found out that that first timed section had actually been cancelled - We never needed to do it ! Do we get bonus points for being the only ones to complete it ? I think not !
|Donkey pumps in Oil country|
|Diesel tanker truck rollover|
|Poster in Kazan hotel lift|
|Other poster in lift !|
The Korston Hotel in Kazan was "interesting", with the night club, and the
Men's Club with "private rooms" well advertised even in the elevator, where the ad was placed right next to the local McDonald's sign ! Only in Russia !
|Crossing pontoon bridge|
|Ice creams in NN car park|
|Volga River views|
hill to an almost formal Civic
Reception, where, after passing through the customary blow-up finish arch, we had our end of day MTC manned by Jim Smith, and then parked amongst the familiar crowds of inquisitive supporters. This spot was better than most, with excellent views down over the Volga River. A small stall was selling excellent ice creams, and most people enjoyed these while relaxing after the long day.
|Lenin Statue in hotel car park|
|Ashton being interviewed|
|Having fun at the N Ring|
turned out that the MTC was to be located some 40 kms away from the hotel, at the N-Ring race track. No, not the Nurburgring, but the Nizhny Ring ! So we left Mr Lenin in the square outside the hotel, and wound our way out and up out of town, through the traffic towards the track. On the way we passed the P76 that had suffered a small coming together with a local at an on ramp - Not good a good situation when they are leading the rally, and they MUST be at the MTC if they are to keep that lead. We all gathered in the car park at the 'Ring, and got the opportunity to sit in the stands and watch some of the earlier-starting competitors. On a "normal" day, we only ever get to see the cars that start a few minutes either side of us, so it was a treat to watch some of the vintagent cars out on the track. Just a few minutes before the P76 was due at the MTC, they arrived in the car park, together with a slightly scarred front fender. But they had made it in time, so maintaining their lead, much to Matt & Gerry's relief.
The laps on the track were a great way to start the day, and once again, due to Ashton's track skills, we re only bested by the usual gaggle of Porsches, 240 z's, and the Ferrari and the P76. I even got to stand on the podium - but that was prior to our time on track !!
|Old disused warehouses|
|Passing golden domed churches|
system works very well. However on one occasion today when he
|Houses beside the road|
|Zavidovo hotel entrance|
|"Beach" outside Zavidovo hotel|
|Bridges & freeways of St Pete|
The main thing I do remember is the hectic traffic and complicated route to our hotel through the busy freeways of the outskirts of St Petersburg. We nailed it, and arrived eventually arrived at the extensive Baltic Star hotel, located some kms west of the centre of St Petersburg, but there were many cars who took wrong turnings, arriving at the hotel very disgruntled. That evening, a number of people went into St Pete to check it out. Ashton set up an appointment at a mechanics shop to try to sort out the starter motor problem.
|Peterhof Palace & fountains|
|Hydrofoil into St Pete|
Day. Ashton took Gidget off to the work shop on a rainy morning, and there wasn't a lot I could do to help, so I had a true "rest day" and went into St Petersburg with Marian Crichton. Instead of just catching a taxi into the centre, I found out about the Peterhof Palace located just a few kms in
|Shipbuilding on riverside|
|St Pete canals|
Petersburg needs much more than one day to see, especially if you want to get into the museums, but we had to be satisfied with just a cursory look. In the afternoon, after a delicious coffee and cake in a little cafe, we caught the hydrofoil back to the Peterhof Palace, where, much to our delight, the amazing fountains we now operating fully. When you see what the state of the Palace was in 1944 after it was largely destroyed, it is wonderful to see it restored to its former glory again.
After getting back to the hotel, found Ashton had had a successful day and we now had a starter motor, and fresh oil in the diff - We were ready to head to Europe !
|Fancy villa entrance hall|
|Living room in villas|
|Scenic road towards Finland|
|Queuing at the last border|
We were due to have a last timed stage just before the border, but apparently once again the Government had decided there was too much risk near the border, and the stage had to be cancelled. So we continued on in the sunshine, through forests that started to look very like Finland. We were beside rivers, and had to wait at raised bridges while small tourist boats passed through. It was only about 2 hours before we reached the border, and started our last border queue before hitting Europe !
Resy of the pics can be found here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/WjJ419V6FNMzxg8r5