Day 19 and 20

Perm to Kazan - 628 km

We are now in Kazan a city of one and a half million inhabitants and the region of the Tartars. So we ate steak tartar last night…. Yes really although the two don’t have anything in common.

It was a very long day with much rally activity. In the morning we went off road again for at least three time trials on very muddy forest roads. Red mud was all over our car afterwards.
We did well however because the tracks were muddy but not very bumpy and with the rally handbrake and the torquee engine it is fun to speed through the mud.
In the first session- about 13 km - we caught a Porsche 911 that started a minute ahead of us, in the second session we caught two cars over the 10 km section before the finish. Anty filmed it in the I-phone so when it gets through you should be able to see the action live.

The third time trial went smooth as well. When we finished we stopped a few minutes to unwind and have a pee.

When we got back on the road we suddenly realised that we had very little time to clock into a TC – time control 13 km up the road. So the speed limit was broken for these 13 km but fortunately the road was smooth (for once) and clear so we got here in time.

The TC was at small roadside café and we with Tom and Femke selected some items for lunch from the crude self-service kitchen.

It was good but time was limited as our route to Kazan still held some surprises. We were once again directed via and off road section that was 27 km long and was so rough with hard clay and sand that we thought we were back in Mongolia again. It made all of us wonder if that was really necessary on such a long day. Then once back on the main road, one more test. We were directed to the Kazan Ring, the local racing circuits to perform 3 racing laps. The Pagode does very well on tracks and the torque and speed on the straights out runs and out brakes many other cars ahead of us. The Kazan ring is a very nice track which I would like to come back to to learn it better.

I have not seen the lap times yet but I am sure we are in the top 10.

Then the run into Kazan where we ended at the – Korston Hotel.

Not the prettiest place for a rest day but the rooms are good and the shower is working well. First the laundry to the laundry service then a drink and some diner in the bar restaurant on the 25ft floor.

The food was really good but everyone was very tired. We have now gone back in time another 2 hours so our time difference is only 1 hour with Amsterdam time. Its confusing specially when sleeping.

Rest day 20

We had a small list of items to do and it became a bit bigger:

-Change the rear tires
-Fix the windscreen wipers that do not want to stop when
we switch them off.
- Check the bolts on the front suspension
- Clean the car inside out
- Check the front right wheel bearing that we replaced in Novosibirsk

We had requested the staff of the Russian auto club that accompanies us all the way from the Mongolian border to he Polish border if they could find us a tyre service place in Kazan for today.
The staff of this auto club is on hand every day and if needed provides staff to translate at garages that they arrange for the competitors. They are also the liaison at all the hotels we stay.

Well-organised and nice people. Some of them were there in 2013 too and they immediately recognized us when we crossed the border into Russia.

This morning we learned from them that the hotel and conference complex we are staying at at the moment houses an underground garage with a car cleaning service and a tyre service. So we did not have to go far to get the car done. After a thorough power shower and vacuum the car went to the tyre section. We carry two spare rally tyres. One with a wheel and one just a tyre.

In Novosibirsk we found that the right rear tyre was not round anymore and that even the wheel had a dent in the rim. So now we put the spare wheel and tyre on the left and replaced the right rear with a new tyre. The old right rear went on the dented rim and we carry this know as our spare. They also managed to take the dent out of the wheel rim. The damaged tyre stayed behind which means our ‘boot rack has only the tent on it from now on. Can you still follow this?

We had instruction and pictures from the Atena crew to short wire the wiper switch but after Anty tried to loose the switch connection and did not succeed – this is a 1966 part – we decided to leave it and live with the wipers as they are. Maybe it does not rain anymore…

Anty checked the front wheel bearing and found that it needed a lot more grease – job done.

Then checking the front suspension bolt (s). The one that had lost its nut before Novosibirsk and was fixed there was missing again. We did not have a replacement so Anty went to ask the rally mechanics.

He did not only come back with the nut and a new bolt but also brought Travis our Californian ace rally mechanic. He got to work right away and not only found a better solution for the recalcitrant nut and bolt but then proceeded to check all the suspension nuts and bolts and the shock absorber bolts. To our shock he found a few more that were not sitting tight anymore. When that was done we decided to check the right hand front suspension as well. This was better but not perfect. Thanks to Travis everything should be good again. However the lesson that from now on after every day in rough terrain the front wheels come off to check all the bolts again.

By the time we finished it was about three pm and we took the car back to the hotel car park which by now was full of interested Russians who wanted to know about the age of the car, the top speed – it says 300 on our speedo meter – so I modestly said it will do 200 km…

There are many young people and they bring their girl friends, wives and kids. Some of them speak reasonable English and translate for the others. They take pictures by the car and sometimes ask very politely if they can sit in the car.

The boyfriend then sits in the car and the girlfriend has to the take the picture of the beaming boyfriend behind the steering wheel.

At one such moment I then asked the girlfriend to sit in the car and I took a picture of her.. see photo.

We were hungry by then and I had spotted a McDonalds in the shopping arcade that belongs to the hotel. Anty stayed with the car and I went to get our first Russian big Macs. Interesting to order one from in menu in Russian, but it worked and we had our Big Mac , fries and shake sitting by he car. Picture.

Then back to the room where the laundry had been delivered so we could repack again for the next eight days of rallying. Our next rest day is in Budapest but there is still a long way to go before we get there.

Tonight a light dinner at the 25th floor restaurant of the hotel. This has a fantastic view of the town and the Volga river that flows thought it. The skies had cleared and we witnessed a beautiful sundown over the Volga river.

Then a quick look at the car and to bed for a 9.18 start tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow we are going to a town with difficult name but apparently it is one of the nicest cities around here.

Watch this space,

Good night,

Mick