Day 18

Yekaterinburg to Perm – 485 km

Today a nine to five job and while we were at it we crossed the Asia- Europe border today.
We are now officially back in Europe.
At almost precisely mid-day today we crossed this official border line that runs between Asia and Europe.
The day started off at nine after a very pleasant stay at the Hyatt hotel in Yekaterinburg. Normally in rallies like this a very good hotel is often the prelude to a much less comfortable hotel the next night. Well , yes and no. We are now in the Ural hotel in Perm, which is in the Ural, and this hotel is one of the old state hotels back in the communist days. However it is in very good condition. The rooms are small – Anty and I have both again our own rooms – and they are decorated in sixties style but all in good and clean condition. Bathroom is small but with a bath and shower and is very clean.
So no complaints here.

Today was really another day to cover as much ground as we can in Russia. No real competition, just passage controls on the route. The roads varied a lot from very good and smooth to very rough with potholes and winter damage. As before the nearer we come to villages or small towns the worse the roads get.

Now we are in the Ural Mountains, the landscape is becoming very green and in some cases resembles Austrian Alp valleys. Traffic is generally light but don’t be fooled as when there is traffic be very alert because they almost drive as bad in Russia as they do in Holland.

On the main roads the cars are pretty disciplined, as there are a lot of police with laser guns so many drivers stick to the speed limit pretty well. This is different from three years ago when we could cruise at 120 km on the main roads. Now we really have to watch our speed. The limit is 90 km so I try to stay at about 105-115 when overtaking.

Some of the competitors have been stopped already over the past few days but none of them has ended up in jail.

In the afternoon we had a nice surprise when we were directed to a passage control in a small town. When we turned a corner in the town we were directed to a small stadium. The streets were suddenly lined with people welcoming us to the town and when we entered the stadium a very loud announcer announced each rally car. Our names pronounced in Russian sounded really interesting. Then amid a mass of people we were directed over high ramp and then out of the stadium again. It was a warm welcome and it now looks we have some fans in Russia as well!

The last stretch of 130 km was long and boring also because of the very grey and cold weather.

Then at the Ural hotel, yes we did arrive at five o’clock, another hero’s welcome at the gate of the car park . Every car was announced with names of the crew, name of the car and age of the car. Hundreds of people were taking pictures.

The cars are now parked in front of the hotel and tonight there are an estimated 3000 people milling around the rally cars. Many young families with their children. All very disciplined. They take thousands of pictures standing by the cars. Its as busy as the Essen classic car show.

Tomorrow a very long 650km plus day with time trials and a speed section at he Kazan race track. I can’t wait….

Good night,

Mick

PS: Thanks to the Altena crew who keep us up-to-date with information about the little gremlins we have with the car. Nothing serious, but for instance windscreen wipers that don’t stop when you want them to stop is something we want to repair. What’s app is great for technical communication.

Many thanks team Altena!

M