Day 25 and 26

Minsk – Brest - Rzeszow

Day 25 Minsk- Brest
A good day rallying with as small sting in the tail. The total distance was about 500 km.

The morning started with an 80 km run to the first off road time trial of the day. The time trial was on smooth sand and nice terrain. Only 4.5 km and this type of surface suit the Pagode well. So we enjoyed ourselves. We were then given a small tour through the forest to end up at the start of the second time trial, which turned out to be the same as the first trial.

The trouble was that there was now a long queue of rally cars waiting for the start. Many of them going round for the first lap of the trial. When we did our second lap of the forest we improved our time with about 6 seconds over the first lap. Nice one!

There was a third time trial on the morning programme but it was cancelled and we went straight to the lunchtime control another 250 km down the road.
Please do not think we are then just driving down a highway. The route we are given takes all the back roads and it required good navigation from Anty to make sure we do not miss a turn.
Anty matches the route book with the waypoints on the Garmin GPS . In that way he sees immediately if we go of course.

The roads in Belarus are smooth and well maintained as opposed to Russia where they usually became worse when we entered small towns or villages.

Belarus is a revelation and quite a beautiful country. The people are friendly and polite and are very interested in these crazy people in their crazy machines. They have little notion of the age of our car, as they have not known any European cars before 1990. Also most cars on the road seem to be well kept German cars all dating back to the 90’s. so after the wall came down.

There are a lot of old Audi’s and VW’s on the road, which makes us, think that that are the cars that the Poles first bought in Europe after 1990 and when the Poles started to buy newer cars these cars were sold on to Russia.

Traffic is very light though except for Minsk but a few minutes out of town, the roads are empty. Maybe they are all hard at work or they are still too poor to buy many cars. We don’t mind which it is.

There was an afternoon regroup at an historical location where we could take some lunch. Then another 200 + km on the way to Brest . Just before we got there we had to do two more off road time trials.

Again it was the same track twice. However this time the trial stage was pretty rough in some parts and each test was about 10 km. With all the cars departing with 1 minute intervals and a track of over 10 km it happens that you catch the car in front of you and get held up. It happened to us in the first session and because of this the car behind us caught us up as well. Nowhere to pass so it was frustrating and rough ride. A fast moving traffic jam.

For the second trial using the same track we made sure that the guy in front of us was quicker so we only needed to make sure nobody caught up with us. We took it a bit slower the second time round to safe the car and we were happy when it was over.

Then another 10 km into town where at a main square we had to do the final time control. When we arrived there it was mayhem with a few thousand people ling up to see the rally cars arrive.

A great welcome and we stayed around for a while before driving to the hotel.

Well hotel….we could hardly find it as the front was all boarded up. We parked at the back and came in the back entrance. There are no words for what we found. Without wasting many words on it this was the very worst hotel in the rally so far. The contrast with Minsk was enormous. The pictures speak for it self . At night we decided to get our sleeping bags from the car so that we had the feeling that we could have a decent night sleep. We also had a quick look at the rally buffet and then decided to find somewhere in town to eat. Tom and Femke had found a place and we were joined by a few of the British crews. We found a burger and a few drinks in a nice place for the princely sum of €17.50 per person. Fuel is about 60 cents a litre ……just that you know

Then back to this awful hotel for an early start.

Day 26

We have no rally day today. We got up early and left the hotel for the border at about 8 am. The border is right outside town and when we arrived we found a dedicated queue for the rally. There were paperwork and car checks going out of Belarus and again going into Poland. In the process I was asked to open the car boot at least seven times!

ERA has their own local staff on hand to guide the process and they had beforehand asked us to be patient. We were and at about 11.15 AM we entered Poland, and the EU.

With still had another 330 km to go to get to our current destination the city of Rzeszow. Unfortunately our route book gave us the scenic route again, which means many small roads and many towns and villages to pass. Long and tedious. The weather has really turned foul. Much rain and it is now very cold for a July day. We think its not more then 16 degrees here.

The hotel tonight is good so we can catch up on our rest, well that is if the car park party thrown by the ‘sweep teams’ the mechanics that help all the rally teams with their technical problems, tonight is not getting too late.

Tomorrow the rally starts again.

Good night,

Mick