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Peking Paris Challenge 2007 - 3rd Update

June 28th in Koblenz, only 2 more days to go

With the competitive part of the rally now over, the whole structure of the event became clear. It featured 5 totally different sections:
- China was just the start, with panache and glitter but only like a Sunday afternoon car shakedown;
- Mongolia was the real thing, the cream of the cream, and the classifications at the end of those incredible 6 days really determined the rest of the event. Far too rough by everybody’s opinions, and not requiring much driving skills, just a bullet proof car (or should I say a washboard and solid rock track proof car), but at least some really competitive stuff;

- Russia was something we had to cross to get to the Baltic States. Not a single competitive stage (or “timed sections” as they are called here) during those long 2 weeks, only a long and fastidious route west, avoiding potholes and “enjoying” Russian “hospitality” and the “quality” of the local service standards…
- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland really did make up for it, and the timed sections were plenty, varied and a real driver’s joy. Pity there was so few days of them. And in my case, pity that we could only enjoy the first 2 days, since one cylinder’s rings gave up and we had to miss the stages on the last 2 days.
- And Germany and France of course, are again just a way to get to Paris, to a well deserved finish.

So there you are. Some would say too many long days for such a sporadic driving pleasure, but the whole event is unique and its magic is not confined to the competitive sections… It is the camaraderie, the long days together sharing misfortunes and small victories; the unforgettable scenery where you would probably never otherwise had gone and most probably will never return again, the immense pleasure of having done it, the innumerable stories to remember and the experience of solving the unexpected.

The day-off in Gdansk presented the crews with heavy rain and strong winds during much of the day. Those who had urgent jobs to do on their cars (who hadn’t?) had to do it under atrocious weather. No wonder some 5 or 6 cars were virtually “inside” the hotel reception area (occupying the narrow covered area in front of the main door, that is) while a starter was being repaired on a bar table…

Our much expected Holts “piston seal” arrived by TNT from England at 3 pm and Peter was soon ready to try it on our number 2 cylinder. For those who do not know Peter Banham, I have to say that all I had heard about his skills and attitude fall way short of reality. Not only he is always ready to help with a smile but also he is immensely talented in solving up the most difficult problems to get a car going and is always optimistic about the the available options and the expected outcome. Here he was a few weeks ago trying to fix a “rebel” dynamo on the Eberhard’s Swiss-Portuguese Silver Ghost:

Well, Peter had not used that stuff for some 20 years but suggested we try it and thanks to my friend David Miller I was able to get it in 24 hours.
He applied it following the instructions, but at first we could not detect any increase in compression. A second application on our (concave) piston showed marked improvement, and today we were able to cruise comfortably at 60-65 miles per hour. Still a rough and unbalanced engine, with little torque, struggling when required to go uphill, but at least that plug is firing and a big improvement over our 3.5 Kg compression figure.

Here are some pictures of your webmaster when driving his own Magnette to the stage finish in Koblenz to say hello to Jose and his wife (and have a look at the car, of course:

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