We are back in business!
Yes this morning 10 o'clock the little Red Pagode took its 10 o'clock start slot and we ran the whole day without any problems.
Thursday night I received a phone call from the Mercedes Benz Garage manager to say that they had found a replacement sump cover for our engine. I gave the go ahead to fit it and put the car back together again. The original plan was to wait for the parts that Jan Altena would bring from Holland this morning and then catch up with the rally at the campsite tonight.
This morning Anty and I checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to the Mercedes dealership. We did not know what to expect but when we arrived Jan Altena was already there working with the mechanics to put the finishing touches to engine.
The MB mechanics had worked until 12 midnight to finish the work and this morning the oil was put back in and we just arrived when the engine was started. Tense moment, would it run, would the oil pressure be okay and would there be noises that should not be there. It ran immediately and made no funny sounds. There were no oil leaks and the pressure was normal. Now we could fit the alu sump guard back but this had to be straitened out first as the impact had distorted the mounting plates. Jan found a machine room in the garage and got to work straight away. Anty and I packed the car and got everything in readiness for our departure.
Unfortunately our official start time was 10 am precisely and it was now 9 o'clock. After a few tries with Jan and the help of three mechanics the tray fitted and we took the car off the ramp. One quick run round the block, I paid the very reasonable bill and we took of for the 15 minute run to the townsquaire . A taxi with Jan in it drove ahead of us to show us the way and with 10 minutes to spare we arrived.
Many people who had heard of our ordeal welcomed us back and were surprised to see us back.
The day was tough with a very long delay leaving Ulaan Bataar because of a traffic accident.. The first 195 km were on Tarmac after we went off road for two time trials. They were in very rough terrain so we took it gently. The second time trial was really rough with deep ditches, rocks and treacherous gullies. It never seemed to end but we made it to the MTC main time control in good time.
Thereafter a short run to our second camp site of the rally. The camp and some of the route of the second time trial we remembered from the 2013 rally so our hard discs are not full yet.
Tonight it is mayhem at the campsite as today a lot of the teams inflicted major damage to their cars. Many technical problems but also much damage through the rough terrain. It is now 11 pm but there are still 25 cars being worked on. The beautiful Ford Capri rolled today and they trying to straighten it out. It looks like an Opel Manta at the moment. Tom and Femke took the wrong track and had a major impact on their steering arm. After two hour wait they were helped by three Mongolians who straightened their steering arms so that they could get back to camp. It was 8 pm when they arrived and Tom's face was not looking very happy.
Anyway we are back in the rally and now more then ever want to finish in Paris. This would not have been possible without the fantastic help of Ardabek and his team of mechanics at Mercedes Benz Ulaan Bataar and Jan Altena who flew in via Moscow ( how did you get a visa for Mongolia so quickly) We have now even a spare sump cover which the rally mechanics offered to take on their truck. So I can go fast again....joke and please don't tell Anty who is fast asleep next to me in our nice spacious tent. It looks like it wil be a cold night so I am off in my sleeping bag.
Good night from Bulgan.