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Peking -Paris  - Report 10 - Drama to the very end...

It is 6 pm on Friday night October 15th and we just arrived at Troyes on the 36th day of the rally, before the final day tomorrow into Paris.

The last two days have been pretty quiet, because we decided to skip time trials and use main roads to reach the end time control of the day. The gold medal is long gone and our final standing is pretty much defined, with differences measured in hours rather than minutes, so by trying to remain competitive there is vey little to gain and a lot to loose ...

From Ancona to Viareggio we took the motorway all along and from there to Aix-Les-Bains we opted for the Fréjus Tunnel instead of the rally route passes. We were sorry not to follow the rally route which had wonderful scenery and great rally roads but "survival mode" dictated this...
The car drove just fine so we got back some enjoyment and some confidence driving it.
Arriving early (around 4 pm) at our final destination was a new experience for us on this event and I have to admit we quite enjoyed it...

Today was a relatively short day with only around 420 Km to drive, and only one timed stage, two laps on the Circuit of Bresse, so we decided to follow the rally route again through rural France. One of the passage controls was at the Chateau de Savigny, which features an impressive (but somewhat poorly kept) colection of Abarth cars, motorbikes and war planes. The road was often narrow and twisted on typical uneven armac rally roads and this meant additional effort for the (already tired) car and passengers alike...
Some 70 Km before Troyes a loud bang on the front left wheel began to develop and I stopped to have a look. I could not find anything obviously wrong and got going again but it got progressively worse. We found a garage and got the car on a lift only to find two suspension arms quite loose... Tightening them was easy and quick and we were soon on the road again.

But something was not right and upon arrival we asked Andy to have a through look at our front axle. We lifted the car and he found a number of other problems ranging from a PU bush sheared to a lot of play on both wheels... I had already used my spare front wheel bearing in Turkey and had no additional spares. Removing the bearing without a spare could mean the end of the rally if it broke into pieces in the process... On closer examination it appeared the bearing itself was OK but it may have a slightly different inner diameter, thus the huge wheel play. After tightening everything and also changing brake pads the options remained clear: risk driving 200 Km tomorrow into Paris (and not finish the rally if the bearing broke on the way) or take it safe (clock in at the start, get a truck to get us closer to Paris and then drive the last 20 Km or so to the assembly control at The Bois de Boulogne and from there to Place Vendome).

The very respected (and always optimist) Peter Banham made it clear that in his opinion we could safely drive to Paris on that bearing. Unfortunately by that time I had already booked a truck to take us partially there. Taking no risks whatsoever at this late stage...

Hope to finish the rally tomorrow and post our final report the day after.

  • abarth 1300 ot
  • abarths
  • chateau de savigny...

  • chateau de savigny