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(5) Peking -Paris - report five

or: Vitor and Rudi, with friends like these we have a very good chance of reaching Paris


Report 4 two days ago, related the accident saga In Almaty and our efforts to have the car repaired on time...
What I failed to emphasize properly was the role played by my friend Vitor Conceicao, the portuguese co-driver of Mark Winkelman on the 1932 Plymouth number 42. He joined me at the Red Scorpion garage, stayed there all afternoon and actually did most of the mechanical work on the Magnette himself! Thank you Vitor.

Yesterday was a long but otherwise uneventful day. 730 km from Almaty to Schymkent, on less than smooth roads, not to mention a 20 Km Section of "big holes", so big that in some cases the whole car would fit inside! We left at 7.32 and were at the Hotel by 7 pm, just before dusk.

But after one day comes another one, from Schymkent to Tashkent In Uzbekstan, only 260 Km, but crossing another border. And the nasty surprise you will read on and the role of my friend Rudi.

Easy to tell: We drove 200 Km to the border. We were already inside the Kazak border compound when the driver of the car in front of us shouted, "smoke from your bonnet"! We looked, opened the left door, switched off the main switch, opened the bonnet and "damn it" flames rising from it! Around to open the right front door and grab the portable fire extinguisher. First spray was not sufficient to extinguish the flames but a second round did it...

What happened? We later found a ruptured oil pipe, from the engine to the oil cooler. We believe the metal pipe may have been crushed and damaged during the collision two days ago. An oil leak into a hot engine compartment is sure to cause a fire... And the flames burned essentially the main power wire, from the battery to the starter.

Now what? Well, first thing was to go through the two borders, and this we did on time (3 hours?) thanks to the original "fire spotter" Jeff Robinson and his co-driver Rob Blake both from Australia, driving Isabelle, a 20 HP 1926 Dodge Tourer. They very kindly towed us across the two borders.

Once inside Uzbekistan, we pulled over, thanked our "saviors" for their efforts in such a low powered car and waited for one of the backup teams that were still behind us.

That's when Rudi Friedrichs showed up, driving his 1932 Alvis Speed 20.
We met Rudi three years ago during the 2007 3rd Peking to Paris (read Syd Stelvio's reports then about the German Spy) and became very good friends. We did other rally events together and visited each other regularly for our "famous" "board meetings". Rudi is not only a very competitive and fast driver but is also a very competent mechanic, knowing his car inside out.
This morning he had already broken a steering arm in the Hotel car park and was late leaving Almaty after the required welding job.
Rudi stopped and just said "I will not leave you here!"
And he set about isolating the burned out cables and bypassing the oil cooler and the ruptured pipe... Soon we were on our way, the final 60 Km into Tashkent and another 5-star Intercontinental Hotel.
Thank you once again Rudi.

Bibi-Khanym Mosque is a famous historical mosque in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, whose name comes from the wife of 14th-century ruler, Amir Timur.
After his Indian campaign in 1399 Timur decided to undertake the construction of a gigantic mosque in his new capital, Samarkand. The outer walls are 167 metres (182.63 yards) in length and 109 metres (119.20 yards) in width. The cupola of the main chamber reaches a height of 40 metres , and the entranceway is 35 metres high. There is a large marble Qur'an stand in the centre of the courtyard.
The mosque was built immediately after Timur's return in 1399 from his campaign in India using precious stones captured during his conquest of India. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, 90 captured elephants were employed merely to carry precious stones, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand — Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Construction was completed between 1399 and 1404. However, the mosque slowly fell into disuse, and crumbled to ruins over the centuries. Its demise was hastened due to the fact it pushed the construction techniques of the time to the very limit, and the fact that it was built too quickly. It eventually partially collapsed in 1897 when an earthquake occurred.
However, in 1974 it began to undergo reconstruction by the Government of Uzbekistan, although the current mosque is effectively a brand-new building, as no original work remains. The bazaar at the foot of the Bibi-Khanym has changed little since 600 years ago.

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