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Thursday July 17, 9 am - HOME
I know I already wrote my last thoughts, however, the race is still going and I am kinda glued to the TransSyberia webpage to see how Ryan and Colin are making out. They are up in the top 10 now.Mongolia will be a new game for everybody, time is lost or gained in big chunks. There are no 10 km stages, the stages in Mongolia are 200, 300 or even 400 km long. An hour is nothing.
I can enjoy reading about them now from the comfort of my own home. Wish I was there but…….
I am feeling much better already. It really was just bad luck and there will be another day another race.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about my “short” adventure and I really hope to soon have more to write about to you guys. I will continue to look for opportunities to be involved with the sport. For now I will get busy again doing my coaching/instructing and other Porsche related involvements.
A special Thanks to Gord Bazzana for doing my web page while I was gone.
Stay tuned, something will come up.
Bye for now,
Final thoughts (while on plane home)
I’m on board a British Airways 747 (upper deck) flying from London to Seattle . As I sit here thinking it is one hell of a long day for me to get home. This trip was to be an “around the world” trip. I shouldn’t be going west at all. The back tracking says it all; instead of carrying on east and going around, I’m turning around and going home. I am disappointed and am feeling let down. But it will pass soon and all will be okay.
My day started at 8 am in Ekaterinburg , Russia . Flight to London left at 12 noon and arrived at 1 pm, then went on to Seattle to leave at 3 pm and to arrive Seattle at 4 pm, then from Seattle to Kelowna, leave Seattle 9.30 pm arrive Kelowna 10.30 pm. So I’m home at 11 pm. Not bad. Oh, but then there is a time change…..so really it’s noon Wednesday for me when I get home.
I feel very much like saying that we as team Canada were a top competitive entry. Even though the results didn’t show it. There were several reasons for that. All of which at this point are not worth getting into. We broke, we only did two days out of 14 and we never got onto the radar screen. It’s leaving me feeling empty and sad. So much effort and nothing to show for. I think I am even a little mad, mad at the cards we were dealt. The only way I think I can put this behind me is by forgetting the whole ordeal. Doing that is maybe where the sad part comes in, I feel I am letting down all the great people that gave me the opportunity to do this.
On a positive note, I was very happy about how Laurance and I were able to work together, our experiences from last year showed and we managed to have some great laughs.
The one day that will always be remembered will be the day we drove 1000 km in 6th gear. May be it was 5th gear, I don’t really know. All I know is that we were both very worried about making it and the stress alone created nervous laughing. How are we going to make it? There is no way we’re going to make it, let’s call help. We scared ourselves by stopping for a coffee and having difficulties getting the car going again, we got ourselves worried a few times while passing big trucks, we laughed when we got around trucks on the right, we made a wrong turn and ended up in a dirt road village and then the car wouldn’t get up the hill to get out of the village again. All these situations created anxiety, nervousness, worry, panic and when a few minutes later things looked better we both laughed about it. Fuelling a car while it’s running & in gear. They’re all stories, great stories! Even the fact that last year we had peanut dust all over the back of the car, this year it was my bottle of cold medicine that got pulverized.
I remember the relief when we drove onto the parking lot of the Park Inn hotel in Ekaterinburg. We made it. How we really did it I’ll never know. All I know is that it created good stories and a great friendship.
This year was a short Transsyberia rally, 3 days only, but we also had the pre rally days from Monday night till Friday morning and we had the time while waiting for word on fixing or not fixing. We had time in the forest, hours of it while waiting for the service vehicle to pull us to the finish line. Yes, this year was about making the best of a pretty disappointing time. We succeeded I think, we have enough positive funny stories so we can forget the bad and carry on to the next adventure with a smile, whatever that next adventure may be.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The decision has been made. It’s all over for team Canada. The timing is now outside of the window to expect the car to be fixed before having to cross into Mongolia. Sometimes you just have to accept what is. As much as I wanted to cross the finish line, I do agree with the call to call it a day. It is another extreme high - low situation that seems to come with any sports. There will be another day and another race.
Right now we are looking into flights home ASAP. Amazing how the focus can shift that quick. “Let’s get the car fixed and go to Mongolia!!!!!” Then, a couple hours later: “What is the quickest way out of here home?”
Well, let me gather my thoughts and write you all a final thoughts update on this rally when I get home. Thanks all for following my story.
Monday, July 14, 2008
We had to check out of our hotel and go to another. If we stay yet another night we have to move rooms again….fun or what?
This morning we went to the briefing and heard that the helicopter with the press people and some organizers had to make an emergency landing yesterday. Nobody was hurt. They then drove last night and apparently they had an incident on the road (some sort of accident) for which they had to go to the police station. So this morning there is only a small group of the organizers here.
The plan for Laurance and I at this moment is still not clear, what is clear is that I should have all my gear out of the car. So I spend an hour or so this morning getting my camera out and other supplies we had put in so nicely back in Moscow. It was sad to see all the cars leave this morning and we had to stay behind…..again. Our Cayenne will be loaded on a truck and for now will travel with the rally, just in case they decide or find parts to fix it. We should know today what the possibilities are. I already experienced the ride in a truck, no need to repeat that. I’ll fly, thank you very much.
Laurance and I are tired and frustrated, dragging our luggage which now includes all our supplies again. Actually, Laurance is sleeping like a baby as we speak. We are waiting for our faith phone call that will tell us parts or no parts…..fix or no fix.
There is a travel agency right in the same building as the hotel. I went and checked it out, the lady there speaks very little English and a little German……ha, you never know between my German and her English Laurance and I may just be the first Canadians setting up residency in Siberia…….It’s like the cream of mushroom soup I ordered for lunch, yep, carrots and tomatoes in clear broth…….
Laurance and I are actually in pretty good spirits, it’s all part of the adventure. We won’t forget Transsyberia 2008 very soon. Oh, now I have two that I don’t think I will ever forget. I told you, this rally is one HECK of an deal.
I’ll do another update when we know what we’re doing.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
12.30 am (Monday morning)
Park Inn, Yekaterinburg, Russia
Well we made it. How I don’t really know. Last night we made the decision to try and get the car to Ekaterinburg because there is a Porsche dealer here. The Porsche mechanics had the transmission locked in 5th gear and way we went at 6 am this morning. Instructions: Don’t stop, don’t burn the clutches. Start early, be ahead of the service guys so when it goes kaboom then they’ll pick you up. Thanks. This was not what Laurance had hoped to hear. He was a little “worried”. We managed to get out of the parking lot. Clutches are slipping, speed is next to nil and we have 1000 km to go. ^*&(&).
Luckily we only had to run a few red lights and even luckier was the fact that there was very little traffic. Once we got going on the highway and the torque converter locked in it was okay. (Only needed to pass on the right a few times to keep my speed up) At 9 am we got to a truck stop and I needed a coffee. Wrong thing to do, when we wanted to leave, well I don’t think there were any clutches left and the converter wouldn’t lock…..Here we are , going down the hill at 10 km/h onto a narrow bridge and BAM, it banged once and locked and we had drive. Only now we’re in 6th gear and all of 1300 rpm going up hill…….panic attack! I decided to go to “low gear 4x4 reduction” you can do this while rolling below 25 kph and bang, it worked and way we went. From then on the order was: we only stop for 1-because it broke 2. nothing (NOTHING) else. 100 km later……construction……one way……NOT our way……stop…..be a trucker and back into low reduction…..it worked. Now we know if we keep the gear on and don’t shut the engine off, we’ll have some drive. We used that at the pumps. We fuelled the car while in drive with the engine running……After all we had a 1000km trip to do and needed to fuel up at least once. It too worked. So, long story short, we made it. Barely, but we’re here.
Now we have to find out if they can fix it in the next couple of days and then we race to Mongolia to catch up to the others. Our only chance would be to cross the border with the others. If we can’t make it then we’re out and on our way home….. I want to cross the line in Mongolia so bad, I’ll do almost anything to get the Cayenne able to drive…..We need to cross the finish line!!!!
Tomorrow I hope to be able to report to you what is next. We’re out of the race, that for sure. But we can still be part of the Mongolian adventure if we can get the car working. It’s NOT over till its over.
PS: There are new pictures posted.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Well, where do I start? How well things WERE going or about my big disappointment? Today we drove from Vladimir to the stage and then to Kazan. We had a 51 km stage that was to be very difficult. They rerouted the start of the stage from a new point because they didn’t think any Cayenne would make it they way it was. Very deep sand and mud made worse in the last couple days with the logging truck traffic and rain.
We drove 500 km to get to the stage and then lined up in the 15th starting spot. (yesterdays finish). We drove well, navigated well, didn’t get stuck and drove the car to make sure we would get to the finish. Laurance and I were talking about just getting to the finish. We drove thru mud holes with precision and navigated the sandy waves like real pros. The last 10 or so kms were just straight sandy / gravel easy roads. Then less then 1 km from the finish the transmission broke. No more forward gear, just reverse. With the narrow roads we didn’t think it would be a good idea to finish in reverse, also how do you turn around in a one lane road having ONLY reverse gear? So there we sat. There was a camera crew and they said we were only the 5th car to show up. Not bad from 15th…..then it took more then ½ hour to see the next car.
Anyways, Porsche is now looking for a replacement transmission for our car and we hope to catch up to the group before Mongolia. If no transmission…….well then I guess we fly home from Russia …..NOT Mongolia. Porsche knows how badly I want to cross the finish line in Mongolia, they will do everything they can to make the car drivable. They set the software to the one gear I have left…5th, so tomorrow I will try to drive the car to Ekaterinburg all the way in 5th gear (1000 km!) Wish me luck, let’s hope it makes it and that there is a transmission for us somewhere in Russia.
So that’s it, No win this year. Just a broken transmission. That’s racing……sometimes NOT so nice.
Friday, July 11, 2008
The Golden Ring Hotel, Vladimir, Russia
Hell day! Actually not too bad, just a lot of work. Let me explain.
Today we checked out of the hotel in Moscow and went to get the cars and drove to Red Square. Did all the photo shots, all the smiling and of course all the good byes. So the rally started and immediately we got into traffic. 5 mph, okay may be 15 or 20 but it was very slow. We did this for at least 80 km of the 120 km we needed to go to get to our first stage . Lllloooooonnnngggg.
So then the first stage…..they told us it was difficult and there would be a lot of water and mud. They weren’t kidding!!!!!!The stage was only 48 km, however, about half way into it most people got lost and stuck. Now we have Cayennes running wild in the wild. Several people had almost head-ons as Cayennes were turning around on the logging roads and heading back. Thus heading INTO the next lost Cayenne. Then there was the mud and water holes. Laurance and I did very well, we never got stuck!!! We had a blast. But the problem we faced was all the other people getting stuck. They changed the rules and started the stage as we arrived at the stage. Since we stopped for fuel etc. we were NOT the first ones at the scene. So we had a lot of cars ahead of us doing the stage. Sure enough we ended up waiting and waiting as they pulled other cars out that got stuck. When we crossed the finish line,the fellows said that we were number 16 or so to actually make it. All the others were still 15 – 20 km behind. Remember what Laurance said last year after our rough landing? The "&*&^% me". Well, he said it again. That was quite a difficult stage and we made it thru.
We did damage the front of the Cayenne a little, both inner fenders are hanging down and the lower panel below the radiator is also damaged. Then we had a rope go around the front axle and it tore the right front brake line of the brake calliper. So, to add to the excitement, we actually did the second half of the stage WITHOUT brakes. I tried to pinch the line but that didn’t work. So, no brakes for 20+ km while racing and then 58 km on the highway without brakes……fun? You bet. Just use the emergency brake. The Porsche mechanics should be fixing it tonight (I hope) Tomorrow we have a 500 km transit and then a 58 km stage and a 75 km to the hotel. It will be a long day again.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Today was an interesting day. Today was really the first day of the rally. It felt that way. We got up early and got ready to go to the Cosmos Hotel to do registration and get the car through the tech inspection. Once you go thru tech then you can not take the car out anymore until you actually run the rally. Well, so we finished loading it and then went on our own in search of a gas station. Way we went, Laurance and I….. "You know where we’re going? No... Down here? Maybe, watch out!! Left or Right? There maybe?!" Anyways, we found a station and got the job done. Then we had to find our way back. No problem….right! SO, car is ready, tech is done, it’s locked up and waiting for tomorrow morning to get to the start line at Red Square and 7100 km later the finish line at Ulaan Bataar! This afternoon we hang out with the Aussie team and the Columbian team, we all have one common goal: This year we HAVE to finish! I’m confident we will and actually feel very confident that we will be near or at the top of the result list.
Just as a side note, I have to tell you, driving around Moscow is just unreal! People force their way around and blow the horn and miss each other most of the time by inches. I say most of the time, however, in one day we saw 8 accidents (some major ones also).
Tonight we have a Transsyberia dinner with all the teams and then on with the show. I still haven’t made it to Red Square to do any shopping…….it’s been a rush in many ways.
Hopefully Lorie will be successful at being the new webmaster and we’ll have updates every day starting Friday.
I haven’t had time to post any new pictures yet. Patience……
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Back at the hotel after spending the day working some more on the car. The car is at hotel Cosmos which is where the registration is and also where technical inspection will take place tomorrow morning.
Today most of the other drivers were around as well and now it feels like we’re all together again and in a competition. Bits and pieces all over the parking lot as people are wiring their own radio systems, GPS systems, cameras, their own way of packing and hanging things in the car. Quite the scene! Luckily it didn’t rain todaylike it did last year when we did this. Remember? We had one whole hour to get the car ready (in the rain) This time we spend two days doing it.
I have calmed down some, after Lorie was able to update the website and Laurance and I could take our time getting things the way I want it. Laurance has been practicing his GPS skills and we have a laptop with some other software to work with GPS also, so we should be okay this year. Laurance and I are working very well as a team, I am very pleased. Well, nothing else exciting to tell, all is going according to plan. Tomorrow we register and do tech inspection, then we wait till Friday morning and have the official start from Red Square. You know, I haven’t had the time to go for a walk on Red Square at all yet. Last year we had so much “tourist” time, this year I feel we’ve been under the gun from the get go. Tonight will be the first night where I can actually get to bed early.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
What a day!! We have our cars, that’s the good news. The bad news is that I am having 100% trouble with my shaw account. They do not allow me to update my website from Russia anymore. I’m working on a way around it. Be patient!
Today was a hurry and wait day. We met for breakfast and then waited for a shuttle bus to take us to the place where the cars were. Shuttle to be here at 10.15 am… anyways, 10.15 Russia time is really 11.30! We finally got to our cars at around 1.30 and then waited for keys etc. Upon inspection we found that the cars had been gone through by people that needed this and that…and now we were missing the famous winch remote control and some other small things. Good thing we checked! Porsche supplied us with what we needed and then we started to mount our own personal things in the car like my video camera etc. I have the camera mounted further back this time so you can see the dash, my steering arm and so it is a bit more of what we’re actually doing in the car. I’ll try it for a couple of days and then mount it where I had it last year. On the way back we got stuck in traffic again and so it took from 5 pm till 8.45 to get back to the hotel. Hey, we have a car, and we’re very excited to get going. Tomorrow we’ll work some more on the car and I’ll work on getting my computer sorted out. So, hang in there , things are looking good in Russia. Just wish a few more people would speak English… like bus drivers etc. It is so hard to try and do anything when you cannot communicate ANYTHING! I’ll write again as soon as I can figure out how to work around my shaw problem.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
It's just after midnight here in Moscow. I am ready for bed but wanted to let you know all travels went fine. I met up in Frankfurt with Colin and Ryan. When we landed in Moscow all went well through customs, however, just as we walked up to the customs window there was a massive shift change and we all waited as the new customs agents settled into their cubicles and signed in and did their hair and placed the pencils in the right place andand and. All on Russian time already. However, no harm, just a few extra minutes and from there on it all went smooth. Bags are here, Fred, Alexand Laurance were there to greet us and take us to the hotel at Red Square. We went for supper and and made a plan for tomorrow. Believe it or not, but the cars are actually here! (Remember last year?) Well, they say they're here. Here is in a town outside of Moscow. We'll check into it tomorrow and find out if we can go and and actually do our prep work. Sure hope so. We have stickers to put on, video cameras to mount and other timing equipment to mount etc. So, let's hope tomorrow is a productive day. I'll let you know.
PS: The weather is nice here. No rain, comfortable without a jacket. Feels like I've been here before ........... I'm a regular in Moscow!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I’m in Vancouver . This year I didn’t bother with the “pre screening” request for my bags before labelling them for Moscow . If you remember, last year I ran into this unfriendly customs person (there are a few of them around) and had some trouble. I learned and kept quiet. Even the check-in lady at Air Canada was friendly…..maybe this is all good vibes for the next several weeks. No frustration at all and I am feeling very calm and confident. Yes, I brought way too much stuff again. I can hear Fred now: “What are you doing?, What’s with all this stuff?” Well, I’m prepared for a trip through the desert by car……need my supplies! Hey, I didn’t bring a hair dryer, but I did bring my shaver this time and a THICK air mattress and a battery operated air pump! I’ll look good and I’ll sleep well! Enough of looking like survivor man on tape.
I’ll be at the Hotel in Moscow sometime after 7 pm Moscow time Monday. I’m not sure how many hours different from PST that is, but am guessing sometime early hours of Monday morning. I’ll try and have an update on the trip from Red Square , Moscow by Monday night you guys’ time.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Back at the hotel after a busy day at the office. All day we spend driving and training at the coal mine. Porsche had set up 4 different exercises and so we split into 4 groups and got to work. Our first session was high speed slalom and handling. Do several runs and try out the different differential or suspension settings on the car. This was a great exercise and I feel we got the setting we like. TheCayenne is much better this year. The oversteer in the car really helps and the back feels stable while sliding it. Next we did several slower exercises that really showed what we need for different slow speed conditions like steep up and down, loose sand while going slow and gravel while going fast etc. Again a very good chance to get a feel for the different settings. Finally we spend some time in real loose sand and sure enough we got our Cayenne “beached” sand flying everywhere but no movement. Just like a turtle flipping its flippers in the sand. I told Laurance to get the sand boards out but he got lucky... just as he started to get them out of the back, we got an offer from the Spanish team to pull us out. So, five minutes later we were back on our way. Those tow ropes are much easier then sand boards.
Then we went as a group down this really steep hill. 2 Cars side by side (for the photo opportunity) and going down this extreme hill. Of course the “hold back” was engaged and the Cayenne handled it with pride. NO problem at all.
So, there you have it, a busy day at the office.
The team spirit is really coming together for all of the competitors. Not so much for one country or another, but as a whole group. We all look after each other (what else can I say after the Spanish team helped us).
Again, I feel so ready for this and am so proud to represent Porsche and Canada . This is one event that really makes you feel very special. From the training to the actual rally. The support and the efforts from all the Porsche crew is unbelievable. They do one heck of a job.
Tomorrow we do paperwork, somehow I guess we have to make sure all our documents are in order to enter Russia and Mongolia. So no driving tomorrow. A real day at the office (but it IS the Porsche office). It is a good thing to not take the car out again, of course we don’t want to put any more miles on the car then we have to. There is plenty of miles to go once the rally starts. I’m happy and comfortable and we have everything in tip top shape. The car is great, the tires are still great (no flats) and we are ready to go.
Talk to you from Russia in July!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Back at the hotel for an hour. Then to a team get together tonight. Today was a great day. This morning we all sat in the classroom and got all the (what now is) regular information on what to expect during the rally. Sounds like it will be very much like last year, except perhaps for the special stages they are planning while we are in Russia . They plan to have a 20 to 80 km special stage every day. Of course this will create more of a competition feel and there will be results every day. Already we we’re warned that you can not win the race by a few second in these special stages. Trying to gain a few seconds in the first week will only increase the risk of damaging the car. Even if you were 10 minutes faster…….all that would go away pretty quickly once you get to Mongolia and you go 2 miles out of your way. In Mongolia you can loose not just minutes, you can (and will) loose hours! So, I agree, special stages or not, it won’t be a speed event in Russia !
Then we were explained about the new sponsor. Sony Ericsson. They will provide every team with a phone that takes pictures and video. There won’t be a simm card so NO phone calls! Every night they will download these pictures and put them on the web specific to each team. When you look at the TransSyberia website and follow your car on the GPS screen, you will be able to see up to one day old only pictures. Pretty cool! Of course I will keep up my own pictures as well. Don’t worry. Then we were told about the updates on the 2008 Cayenne . They did a lot of small updates which all seem to be add up to having a fantastic Transsyberia Cayenne. There should be no more flats and no more broken oil pans.
This afternoon we drove the car first on the track. I only did a few laps as being on pavement with off-road tires just destroys them pretty quickly. I did drive long enough to find out that this is not a road racer. It oversteers real easy (intentional for rallying) and the suspension is of course quite soft. Better to safe the tires as these are the tires I have to use in Russia . Damage them now and it would make for a poor first couple of days in Russia . Then we went to the coal mine. There we drove the car in off road conditions and found out how much better the car really is. Again some of the small updates all add up to top performance. Easier to lock the diffs and again also the oversteer makes it easier to slide the car around on the gravel. Being quite satisfied with the feel of the car, I once again decided to safe the car instead of pushing it and risking damage. We have 7000+ kms to go. All in all a great day, Laurance is good (not car sick at all) car is good, weather is great. What a cool thing to be doing. You gotta love it!!! And I do!!!!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Last night was a great start of the 2008 TransSyberia rally. We all met up in the Lobby. Many from last year, Eddie, Christian, the Japanese team, Tim Trenker and his partner and many more. I felt very much like part of it and am proud to be here again to be here as Team Canada . We made a name for ourselves last year and being here again makes Laurance and I a force to reckon with. It is great competition amongst friends. We had a quick overview of what we’ll see these next couple of days. Here is the real excitement: Laurance and I met up with our Cayenne already. It is all stickered up with Canadian flags and has our names on the doors. We are start number 14. I’ll be posting some pictures soon.
Monday May 19, 2008
I’ve arrived at the hotel in Leipzig . All four of us met up in Frankfurt (Laurance, Ryan, Colin and myself) and we flew together to Leipzig .
I’m here to do the pre TransSyberia rally training for Porsche. We go through all the off road capabilities of the Transsyberia Cayenne and also get training on the GPS system which we use to get through the Gobi desert. Last year when we came to this training session it was very exciting to first meet up with our car. It seemed to make it real, once we saw the car and sat in it we knew the rally was on! This year I am so glad to be here again and I have some of the same feelings. I am very excited and can’t wait to see the fresh updated 2008 Cayennes all lined up and ready to go. It’s real, I’m here, the cars are here and the Porsche facilities and hospitality just make you feel like you’re the luckiest man alive today. The bus will be here at 5.45 to pick us up from the hotel and take us to the factory.
Sunday, April 20th, 2008
Well, I got back last Wednesday from a tire testing trip in the south of France. Timing was perfect, I got back from my holidays in Europe on Tuesday night and I was back on the plane to Marseille, France on Friday morning.
This was very interesting, I got back behind the wheel of a TransSyberia Cayenne and before I knew it it felt like I never left. I was happy to not have any bad flashbacks to last year.....only good flashbacks. The Cayenne I drove is the only one fitted with the updates for the 2008 rally. Of course there are new tires (we don't want last years tire trouble) some suspension upgrades and other small changes to the protection plate underneath. The Cayenne felt very good and we didn't have any tire trouble. Rod Millen was also at the test, he had given a lot of input towards the modifications we needed and also he was there to hand over the keys to his son Ryan. Rod has other commitments in July so his car will be driven by his son this year. The North American team will be a two car team, one Canadian (Kees & Laurance) and one American (Ryan and Colin).
I'll write another update when I get back from the Leipzig, Germanytraining. I should be back after May 23.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Ring, ring……Porsche calling me while attending the 25th anniversary of our win at the 1983 12hr of Sebring race. That was quite an upset. We won overall with a GTO Porsche 934. The question asked on the other end of the line was: “ Are you sitting down? Yes? Then, would you like to do the TransSyberia again?” Silence for at least a full second and then a very confirming “YES!!!!” I had hopes of being able to do it again, however, since there was only two cars in the team left (remember last year… some of my car parts are still in the Gobi desert) and with the internal and international changes Porsche is going through, I pretty much understood without asking too much that it would be difficult for me to get involved again. But here is the lesson: never give up too early, it appears that due to a change in event dates that the other drivers now have a conflict with other commitments. So… have experience, have license, willing to travel and there is a car available... LET’S GO!
At this time I don’t have too much information yet, I am hoping to get Laurance again as a navigator, he knows what to look for and what to expect as do I. He is an experienced camper now and knows what it takes to live without a bathroom for a week or so. I think we ended last year with a lot of respect for each other and I would like to build on that . It’s all about team work.
I spoke with the fellow that know the facts about what Porsche is actually doing in Germany . Apparently we will have last years cars with some modifications and updates. Sounds like we’ll have fatter tires (more sidewall) better undercarriage protection, different shocks etc. Last year’s car was good, very good and safe, however, I believe they are improving the right areas. After flight, sometimes the landing created a little too much damage, some guys damaged their oil pans (which Porsche fixed overnight while the drivers slept) others had their entire engine come right out of the car. (no tools required)…..
Right now we’re planning for a test session in Germany sometime near the end of May and then the actual rally will run from July 11 to 25th. This year will be a repeat route from last year. We will start in Moscow , Russia and go to UlaanBataar , Mongolia . Originally the plan was to go to China , however, due to the Olympics they couldn’t get permission to do that.
Doing the same route (or close to it) if good for me. This year I enter full of confidence, I know I can do an extremely good job. Last year I proved that I had the speed in the stages, I just needed to mature the attack a little more. I am ready to do that now. Also, this year there will be more high speed stages, one every day even while we’re in Russia , so there will be an actual up to date daily competition standings/results.
Stay tuned... MUCH more to follow in the next couple of weeks and months.
August 23, 2007
Well, it's Thursday afternoon and I am comfortably sitting at my desk at home. Still thinking about the last couple of weeks. What an adventure, what an experience. I have to say thanks to PCNA and Porsche AG. They provided me with a car that was obviously built with safety in mind and they also provided me with an experience I can talk about for the next several years if not the rest of my life!
Also, I owe all of you some pictures of the last couple of days of my trip, so I will try and post some.
My trip home from the other side of the globe was pretty uneventful. The internet is a great time gobbler and it sure helped me get through my 14 hour lay over in Seoul. Once I got on the plane, I fell asleep and woke up just in time for breakfast. Then a short lay over in Vancouver and a short flight home. I arrived home at 4.55 pm and by 5.10 pm we had several of my friends at the house for burgers and beer. It was nice to tell my story to a very interested group of people. It took till 10 pm to tell my story!! I slept a normal night in my own bed and I was back to my normal routine right away on Monday. Back to work Tuesday morning.
I thank all of you for your support. I hope you all got the message that I am very pleased with all my experiences and I will only have positive memories from this trip. The accident was a disappointment, however, it was only one part of the trip. Laurance and I walked away from it, so there is no need to see it as the main focus of the trip. Too many other positive things to think about and to remember.
Lots of people have commented positively about my updates, so next time I get myself into yet another wacky situation, I'll let you know and you can follow along again. Bye for now. It is sure nice to be home!!
August 18, 2007
This afternoon we watched the end of the rally a few km outside Ulaan Bataar. The last stage was more a follow the way points and get to the check points then a timed event. More of a safe cruise to get the cars to the finish. My teammates Rod and Richard won the rally. I am very happy for Team North America PCNA.
We had our TransSyberian "goodbye" dinner tonight and tomorrow we all get ready to fly home. It will be a long flight for me as I won't get out of Ulaan Bataar till 20 minutes after midnight, then fly to Seoul, have a 13 1/2 hr lay-over then a 11 hour flight to Vancouver. I guess I really am at the other side of the world. Boy, it will be good to be home.
It's been an adventure, that's for sure. Thanks for reading my updates and your support. May be we'll have to do it again sometime.....
August 18, 2007
I slept till 8 am, stared at the dead bugs on the floor and got on with things. I got all my clean clothes, had another shower, had a shave and started to feel human again. Had breakfast, met with Mr. Frech from Porsche at the breakfast table, thanked him for building such a safe Porsche. He was happy to see me not hurt. Now I am starting to feel more myself again, the Hotel is fine, fantastic for Mongolia, but still no Hilton in North America. My teammate Rod Millen is leading the rally at this time, so we are going to watch him come across the finish line here in Ulaan Bataar.
August 17, 2007
I got up to a damp, cold uncomfortable place I didn't want to be at anymore. I took my time, walked around, noted how lucky Laurance and I had been the previous day and then reminded myself of the fact that I was looking for an adventure and I got one. So many good experiences, different situations, good people, special places, a lifetime worth of stories, I reminded myself that this was a positive experience, yes, I disappointed myself, Laurance and Porsche, but it was only part of the story. I was in a race, I needed to be competitive, and I was, I just hit a bump in the road. I am still glad I was here and that I was part of it and I count my lucky starts to be able to tell the story. The sun came out and I started to feel a little better. It was over and I was just looking for a way home.
The way home came in the form of a minivan. Called a bus from where we were at (I forgot) to Ulaan Bataar. They organized it for us, Two Russians (their car broke theoil pan), two from Singapore (Eddie and Pradeep) and Laurance and I. The mini bus was one of those 4x4 Russian built 30 year old units. It came with 2 drivers and two sisters of the one driver. 10 of us (+ luggage) in this little van. Ulaan Bataar is a 12 hr drive.......They showed up at 11.30 and by the time we left town it was 2 pm. We had to first get the broken cars loaded onto flat decks in town. This trip was the trip from HELL! We drove on horse trails bumping and jumping and getting tossed around. Then we had a front wheel bearing getting loose and luckily the driver had tools to fix it (all in the middle of the dessert). Way we went again. Out of 550 km's we had about 100 km of pavement........The pain from this ride was much worse then from the accident. I couldn't hold my head up anymore, and poor Laurance was really going through hell. His back hurt, his head, his neck his whole body was just in major pain. He moaned and groaned the whole way. He was in real pain.
We arrived at 2 am in the morning at Hotel Mongolia. Finally we would be able to get a shower and a normal bed. When I walked into my room there were several dead spiders and bugs on the floor, I looked at them, smashed them flat with my shoe, acted like I didn't care, checked the bed (it was clean), had a quick shower and went to sleep. My first real bed and real sleep in a week or so.
August 16, 2007
Yesterday my rally came to an end. Laurance and I got ready for our 285 km stage and then another 100+ km to the next camp. This stage was shortened a little by the organizers as they found the previous day on their test run that the stage was impossible. There for they put together a stage without a road book, just points in the GPS system to head for. We had 4 hours to do it in. Laurance and I started 9th and were going through the dessert with a group of cars all kind finding our own tracks. Then we went over an unexpected sanddune and the car rolled over. Both Laurance and I are NOT hurt. We were very lucky. However, the Cayenne could not go on. I have to say right away: " Thank you Porsche for building such a safe car".
The safety crew was with us within 30 minutes, and looked after everything. The rest of the day I sat in the back of a Unimog truck looking like hell. I was like a caged animal as they closed the back of the truck and I couldn't see anything. It was very hot, but with all my bags I made a bed to lay in and actually had a comfortable ride. Hours later, we picked up Eddy from Singapore, he had gone off track and broke his oil pan and could not continue. We towed him for hours and then I switched and got in the car with Eddie and we went into the night to our camp. Getting towed through mud, rivers, and rock beds and so tired we were falling asleep at the wheel. Laurance had stayed with the ambulance at the crash scene, they wanted to keep an eye on him. He looked like a mummy with a toothache..... Somehow he got to the camp before me, sometime around 9.30 pm, we didn't get in till after midnight. It was cold, damp and uncomfortable. I set up my tent, dragged all my gear (wasn't getting any help for some reason) and just laid down and got ready for an other uncomfortable rest period in my tent. I was done, done, done, ready to pack it in and so I didn't even get "ready" for bed, I just laid down and wanted it to be over. It had been one hell of a day, so unlucky, yet both of us so lucky to be alive and not hurt. Another crash... just what I didn't need. In the morning everything was wet from condensation, very uncomfortable. It got better when the sun came out.
Thanks to the British Landcruiser team I was able to downloadthe previous update. They allowed me to use their satellite equipment to connect to the internet.
August 14, 2007
As announced yesterday, we had an other day without competition due to no ambulance. We drove a 220 km transit stage and are once again at our camp. The drive was through the Gobi dessert, very interesting as one moment you are on hard sand, the next you hit a concrete bridge for no good reason, then you hit a bridge that actually has water run under it, then back into the mountains. One thing is for sure, you can see for miles, but you can not trust what you see for more then 50 feet. Just as you think you can speed up the road turns VERY rough, or there is an hole you could drop the entire Cayenne into or there is a mud hole. You can not trust anything!!
The town of Altay is bigger then any other city we have seen so far. However, we got in early and went looking for an hotel and a shower. No such luck. Finally we found the one and only public shower and also found the 20 people lined up to use it. Needless to say, we skipped (we're getting used to being dirty) and went looking for a cold beer. Unfortunately, that too was not available as today wasor is an holiday and no bars or places to have a drink are open. We did go back to camp and made our own fun. The Aussie guy (Dave) and the UK guy (Richard) are totally mad. (Mad as in UK mad, funny crazy etc.) These two are the lucky co-drivers that didn't go out at the last stage and therefore did not get hurt in the accidents their drivers had. By the way, we did hear that Neil (UK) and Paul (Aussie) and Christian (Columbia) are all ok. They are already in Ulaan Bataar at the hotel and don't need any further medical attention. We were all very happy with that news.
Hopefully tomorrow we will have a special stage and perhaps we can move up in the standings. I think you already know that yesterdays stage was cancelled all together, Laurance and I were a little disappointed about that as we had done so well and now it is all for not. Everybody is having mixed feelings about the competition end of it now. We are all wondering if this is a rally or a driving tour from Moscow to Ulaan Bataar. We are all so competitive and want to have a chance to move up in the standings. My tire strategy would have worked well, but now it seems we are not getting the opportunity to use our advantage. I took care of my tires and still have 3 more available to me on the service truck.
All in all this is one heck of an experience, we have taken the Cayenne and put it through some very tough situations and it has done very well. Water, mud, holes, sand etc. nothing has hurt our car, we even had a long enough jump that would have given me a pilots license. We landed on the right rear and did no damage. (except for Laurance's blood pressure) Laurance and I are very impressed with the Cayenne's capabilities. If only we had tires that would work on rocks and gravel......
The weather is still great. No rain to really speak of and temperatures around the mid 20's C and sunny. At night it gets pretty cold (under 10 C) but it hasn't bothered me yet. It is the hard rocky ground that makes it impossible to sleep at times. I can't imagine doing this event in the rainy season or even after a couple of days of real rain, it would be very, very difficult, there are so many places that would turn into deep mud holes. So, I am happy dealing with the dust!
We are waiting to hear at the briefing tonightwhat we are actually doing tomorrow, will we do a 400 km stage or??? I'll try and let you know tomorrow.
August 13, 2007
We are at our camp. This morning we started our stage at 10.30 or so. First we had to line up and get gas at the local pump. You wouldn't believe what they called a gas pump. An electric motor driving a pump, however, the drive belt didn't fit well, and after 3 cars the pump over heated, then they change motors and we had sparks of electricity flying and wires hanging everywhere , but it did pump some more fuel. Why we didn't all blow up is beyond me. The stage was sandy and rocky. We drove over areas that would be flooded if it had rained. Very boggy and very deep ruts. We did well, we didn't get stuck or lost and kept our speed up really good. Just like ice racing, we slid the Cayenne through the bushes on the sandy roads and stayed away from the deep ditches. Unfortunately two of our Cayenne friends cars (Columbian and Aussie teams) did do so well. They hit the ditch so hard the ambulance had to come to work on them. The organizers stopped the stage after 106 km's instead of the intended 300 km. We had to stop because no ambulance would be available for us. Laurance and I were very disappointed as we were going so well. We then drove back to base camp and here we are camped out on the rocky plains of Mongolia again. It is so rocky, I bend my tent pegs so now hope that the wind won't blow me away tonight. Tomorrow is Tuesday, at this point with 4 more days to go we just don't bather anymore with the feeling dirty. We all are dirty and that is just how it is. Some people sure wouldn't like these conditions. I love it and can't wait to show everybody my pictures. I have taken about 1300 pictures so far, so I can tell a hell of a story! Also saw some camels today!
The weather is still very nice, mid 20's C and dry and dusty. Our PCNA team is doing good, Rod/Richard are in 3rd place, we are 11th and Jeff/Paul are 22nd.
At this point it has become very clear that it is a race about tires more then anything. Our Cayennes are very good, however, we keep blowing tires and we are only allowed 12 in total. Jeff and Rodare running a different strategy then Laurance and I, we only replace them as they go flat, we still have three tires to go and only 3 days. The other teams are pretty much out of tires now and will have to nurse their cars home with whatever rubber they can find. Some cars have been finishing on the rims only, because they ran out of tires before the end of the stage.
Tomorrow is another day. We are ready. Laurance and I repacked our car again (he keeps messing it up over the bumps!) I hope the Aussie and Columbia guys are okay.
August 12, 2007
Last night was pure horror. The wind blew and blew. At 2 am we had a storm (a sand storm) happening. It was VERY frightening. The tent kept collapsing on it self and I thought we were all going to get blown away. I got dressed and put my passport in my pocket . Ready to jump ship if I had to. I wondered about Laurance....his second night in a tent..... Anyways, we didn't blow away and had quite a talk about it this morning. It was a time to laugh as we were all in the same scary boat!! So we got up and went to our stage. The stage was very difficult and we all cut tires like crazy. Most also got stuck in the mud. Laurance and I did well. We didn't get stuck, but we did miss a check point and we did have two flat tires. Turns out that was pretty good as a lot of people didn't finish or damaged their car or had other problems. At the finish we found a third flat tire and asked the British entry (they punctured their oil pan and dumped all the all out of the engine) if we could use their extra tire, We could, however, in return I had to tow them 300 km by tow ropeto the next camp. Took us 7 hours on gravel roads to tow them. Once at the camp we had new tires installed and found the rear suspension out of alignment. They will try to fix that overnight. Laurance did a good job today, although we missed a checkpoint (30 minutes penalty), we still did well. Many others missed the same check point and many others got stuck. I think we moved up in the standings. Not posted yet. We'll have a briefing at 7.30 tomorrow and we also have to get gas as we are bone dry right now. The stage tomorrow will be 300 km and starts at 10 am. Fun, fun fun. I am dirty, tired and still loving it. This whole thing is such a life experience, poor Laurance, he's learning allkinds of new things in life. From navigating to towing with a rope through gravel roads at 80 km/hr, through streams and mountain roads.....
Tomorrow is a new day, all is still 100% and I am loving it!
August 11, 2007
Today was our day off. We didn't do much of anything, repacked the Cayenne and relaxed and got ready for tomorrow.
August 10, 2007
Actually it is 7 am Aug 11 already, but I didn't feel like reporting last night. Yesterday we got up to another great looking day. Slept well in the tent. Of course we had planned to leave at 7 am and my mind was still saying 6 am because we had left at 6 every other day so far. So, I got everybody up an hour early...... I was not the most popular! We traveled only 20 km, topped up fuel and went on to the border, there we sat. 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 am we made it to the front of the line at 12 and sure as ^&%&^*& they went for lunch. Lunch for two hours!!! finally at 2 we went through. To exit Russia you go through: first inspection, then over to declaration form office, then passport office, then car inspection place, then back to passport inspection then move to the gate and go through another passport inspection, then drive 22 km get to ....pre Mongolian passport inspection (also give your Russian exit paper), then 2 kmMongolian declaration form & car inspection, then passport inspection, car inspection, move to gate, passport inspection, pay Mongolian insurance, over to emission tax, over to gate , passport inspection and then you're free to go Now it is 4 pm and we finally made it into Mongolia. Mongolia has no paved roads, so immediately we were on gravel. Humps and bumps and on our way to the meeting place where we would camp again. Laurance and I did well, our first real navigation by landmarks and trails, I drove not to fast, however, I did receive my pilot's license over one bump. Didn't know Cayennes would fly like that and land on the right rear wheel. We ( well, I ) kept it under control upon landing and Lawrance caught his breath and on we went. Laurance is a very good passenger. We got to the camp and set up our tent on the rocky surface. They have the Mongolian tents set up for the catered meals and a bank. I got 200,000 Turiks(?) for $200 US. The town of Olgy is about 5000 people I would guess, they actually have electricity and we went for a beer in a disco last night with the guys from Dubai. We were the only customers but the disco ball-lights were on!
Supper was good and I slept ok. I should have brought an air mattress..... Hotels, no matter how poor in Russia are still better then a rocky bed and a hole in the ground.....
Today (11th) is our day off. We are fuelling the car and relax. Then tomorrow the real race starts and we'll be on our way to Ulaan Bataar for next Friday.
All is good, 100% positive, our Porsche Cayenneis fantastic, no problems at all, this whole thing /trip is such a positive life experience, I love it!
August 10, 2007
We're at the campsite. Again this morning we left at 6 am with our bagged lunch as a supper. This bagged lunch will be our only food to survive tonight. The day was great, it started with the Porsche mechanics fixing my suspension problem. It turned out the sensor on the steering was mixing up the suspension. All fixed at 6.30 (fixing tool was a laptop to reprogram the software) and on our way. We had no police again and we had nice weather and straight roads, that is until about 200 km ago when we got into the Altais(?) mountains and it became mountain pass driving. The sights are stunning, some of the mountains are like in Kamloops but a lot higher. We drove at 1100 meters and we are now camping at 1500 meters. It was 28-32 C all day. Tonight it will be cold I think. I have my long racing underwear with me to keep warm. Just hope I won't have to run from the bears as that would be a funny sight and somebody would catch it on video! I don't want that!!
The drive was interesting, as we got to the mountains you could also see the difference in people, they are starting to look like Mongolians. This is a very poor part of the country, people have nothing, no power, no comforts, just one paved road past their huts and we are using it. The campsite(just an open/flat area) is right on the river. I guess the rushing water sound will put me to sleep. I did find a spot to put up my tent between bear droppings......oh, them bears......GA are you listening? Laurance will be spending his first night in a tent, when we arrived, his first question was" So, where are the washroom facilities?", then later he says:" I guess you just pick a tree, any tree?" Oh, he has a lot to learn......but he did have his laptop in his tent.
No pictures from now on as I am going to try and just upload this page via Paul's satellite phone. Have to keep the size down. If it doesn't work today, well then we try again tomorrow. All for now.
Good bye from Russia.......
August 8, 2007
We made it to the hotel in Novosibirsk. Like yesterday, we started at 6 am and drove 670 km's. Today was the first day we did NOT get stopped by the police. It was a long straight road. The road was actually pretty good except for one short section. This short section was so rough we actually got some air over some bumps..... Again the landscape is pretty flat, swampy and some farm land. This morning when we left, there was some low lying fog and with the sun straight ahead of us just coming up, it was a very beautiful picture. No real adventures today. We are all getting along very well, we have a strong team and are ready for Mongolia. Tomorrow we travel 850 km and the next day we will be at the Mongolian border.
Because we came in pretty early today (around 1.30) we went and had our car washed, and I have the Porsche mechanics taking a look at the electronics. We get a minor suspension warning coming up every once in a while. Nothing to worry about, just a little annoying to have it beep at you. Also this afternoon we practiced folding our tent, since we need to use them tomorrow evening and have to be able to put them back into the bag they belong. We would all look pretty funny with these opened tents stuffed in the back of our Cayennes. I video taped our struggle, it was funny. 3 Grown man trying to fold a tent.......
Tonight we have supper in the hotel with a presentation from Porsche AG. Should be fun, then to bed early to get ready for our long day tomorrow.
Sorry, I had to delete earlier photos to make space for he more current ones....
August 7, 2008
We are here at the hotel in Omsk. We started this morning at 6 am and drove 640 km from Tyumen to Omsk. Really today was uneventful. The landscape is all farm land, there was less traffic today, it's been sunny and warm for several days now. Today was perhaps a little better for traveling as it was only 22-25 degrees C, every other day has been 25 to 32 C. We are very lucky to not have to deal with cold and rain. All of us are feeling pretty good, a little tired perhaps from only sleeping about 4 hours a night, but the travel is exciting enough to keep you awake and alert. Traffic and drivers are like the old wild west, every man for himself! We of course had another little talking to from two highway officers sitting in their 1990 Lada. They like to pull everybody over including the rally organizers and also some of the support vehicles.
Traveling these distances and working the traffic and taking it all in, it is just an unbelievable adventure. It is all so positive, the teams, the organizers, the excitement of everybody, the fantastic way the Cayenne is working. It is all such a pleasure. We forget about being tired, having to order lunch from a point-to-it-book (a book with pictures from eggs to coffee to animals to fork& knife etc., believe me, it is a fantastic little booklet if you don't know a single word in their language) and having to share rooms in less then great hotels. All we have learned so far is "Njet" (no) and "dah" (yes).
Tomorrow is another travel day. From Omsk to Novosibirsk. Another 666 km. We'll be leaving early again, but for now, I get to rest a little this evening, I am going to enjoy it!
August 6, 2007
We're in the hotel in Tyumen. We're happy to be here, although it doesn't exactly look a North American hotel, it has a bed and running water. Some people I know wouldn't stay here....you know who you are.....
Today was the big "off road" day. We arrived at the special stage and found out that it would be impossible for a Cayenne to do the stage. The local loggers with their pre-war 6x6's were having trouble. So after inspection by the organizers they decided to cancel the stage and safe the cars. We have a long way to go and it just wasn't worth loosing any cars at this time. There is such a thing as "safety first".
Allow me to back up a moment. At our drivers meeting the previous night at 11 pm we were told we might have to use our winch. So after the meeting Laurance and I checked that we had everything and that we were ready to go. We mounted the winch and installed our snorkle. We found out that there was some parts missing for the winch. So, here were the problems: No tow rope (lost it yesterday...), no remote for the winch, no rear power cable for the winch, a message on the dash indicating 2 electronic suspension faults (chassis control and PSM) probably due to our water experience yesterday. So, things were not looking good. Laurance and I called it a night at 1.45 am and were back at it at 6 am to chase down the parts for the winch. I chased one of the factory guys and got the parts from his car....so now we had a winch that would work and also took his tow rope....By 7.30 am I was feeling a little better. Then on the way to the stage I played with the suspension settings, lowering and raising the suspension and on/off'd every possible suspension option and believe it or not but the faults fixed itself and now we have a Cayenne that is back in 100% shape. Finally I can settle down a little and approach the job at hand. We get to the start of the stage and found out from the Polish guys that the Russian group had spoken with the "Russian off road club" and they heard that the Russian organizer had planned a near impossible route. I won't go on, but when they cancelled the stage we all finally starting breathing again. Now we were free to travel to Tyumen, a 600+ km trip.
The trip went well, only got stopped once and it didn't cost any money. Tomorrow we travel again for another 600+ km to the next hotel. At this point we do not have any special stages for a couple of days, we're just doing travel days to get to Mongolia and do our stages there.
Laurance and I are doing well, we have good conversation and Laurance is getting used to me scaring the !%@#&*^!%#@%^ out of him. He is turning out to be a good right seat man! We are both feeling good and are ready to tackle the rest of the rally. (just wait until Laurance has to sleep in a tent, he has never camped before....)
I hope you all keep an eye on the official TranSyberian website, it actually tracks the cars on GPS.
Check out the new pictures.
August 5, 2007
Today was transfer day. We drove 1000 km on the road from Kazan to where the next stage will be. (I forgot right now...) It was an interesting day as we left at 5 am this morning and with three racecar drivers on the road for 1000 km without a lot of respect for the law.....We don't understand the law, so it makes it hard to comply......then again, we found out Russians don't follow the letter of the law at all.....they pass on the right, on the left (car coming or not) down the centre or where ever they can find a spot to get around. So we played along. I got pulled over for some city paper check (not speeding) and was let go, then Laurance drove for an hour and he got pulled over in the first 20 minutes, he got let go, then Jeff and I got pulled over for passing on the solid line, we were let go, then 10 minutes later we Jeff and Igot stopped for speeding. That one cost a few rubbles....big deal, best $20.00I ever spent.
We ran on some gravel, dealt with the deep ruts in the pavement, bumps and holes and everything in between. The car is still in one piece, however, after hitting a rock a little too hard my steering is off a little. Then again, in gravel that doesn't really matter. It is a beautiful country sight, just a little flat, lots of farming. When I have time I will post pictures, right now I have to go to a 11 pm drivers meeting.
Tomorrow we have another special stage. 20 km and 4 hours to do it in. I guess tomorrow is straight up hill (real off road stuff) instead of flat out driving, so I better get some sleep tonight. All in all, trip of a lifetime! Great Porsche driving, great people and just nothing but positive stuff.
August 4, 2007
If yesterday was the Canadian car's day, then today it was Rod Millen's day. We started the day with a 100 km positioning trip to a special stage. This stage was in the middle of nowhere Russia. When we arrived, some people installed the air intake snorkel on the car. Rumour had it that there may be some deep water....It was a 27 km special stage and guided only by GPS. Through the trees, loose sand, across bridges made from some logs laid down to "help" you across whatever ditch or stream, fallen trees to avoid etc. Because we had 4th fastest time yesterday, we started fourth today. All went really well, we were fast and missed most traps until we got to the water. One of the cars ahead of us had gotten stuck in the middle. We waited and lost very valuable time while they pulled him out. Then it was our turn......sure as %^%$#$% we didn't make it either. The water was about 3 1/2 feet deep with milky mud on the bottom. When the car sank it leaned over and water almost came in Laurance's side window. Needless to say we lost major time and then once we got out, our team car with Paul Dallenbach and Jeff Zwart also got stuck. We ended up helping him out and so lost even more time. When we finally got going the engine started to overheat and the car felt like it had a suspension problem. So we slowed up, turned on the heater and then the window started to fog up, then we had Rod Millen behind us and after several km's I had to let him go past. All in all, we lost time and I am sure dropped way down the list, however, the good news is that the Porsche is OK. The engine got hot, but didn't overheat, the suspension is okay and we finished the stage. After the stage we drove 500 km to Kazan. Running red lights in Moscow is one thing, passing while oncoming traffic is coming at you and passing on the right and having to go on the dirt next to the shoulder and dealing with 1000's of heavy trucks is quite an other thing. Oh, and ruts in the pavement? about a foot deep. We lived, no tickets and are safe and sound in the hotel room. Had supper and am going to sleep as we have a long day tomorrow. 950 km day trip to our next special stage.
All is good, it is an experience like no other, I love it! The Porsche is unbelievable, we put it through some tests already that are out of this world. It has no problem with whatever we throw at it. Love to send pictures, but it will have to wait as I have to go to bed now.
August 3, 2007
What a day to remember! The first day of the race started early. No time for breakfast and off to the hotel and the cars at 6.30 am. With police escort through Moscow to red square. Police escort for 40 racecars..... imagineRussian police and Russian traffic and 40 race car drivers. If you are anywhere in the second half of the pack, you cut people off, run red lights and do all you can to not get hit or to hit someone else. What a zoo!!! Anyways, we made it to red square and did photos etc. then off to the start, again, a show start as we just went through the " start gate" and then parked, waited for the others and then again with police escort to the edge of town. 30 somewhat kms. There we had a gathering of the locals, then off and running on our own. Once we got to the start of our special stage, that's when it got to be really interesting. A 33 km dirt road special stage. It was very rough and the car hit the ground several times and we also took off like an airplane a few times. Trees on either side, mud, sand, loose logs and bridges you wouldn't want to go to over too slow. Keep up the speed and you'll get to the other side. FANTASTIC!! Flat out, the Porsche worked great, I got into it and we were sliding and jumping and going like heck! Laurance did a great job navigating, we never went wrong and he announced every next turn correct. Took us 36 minutes to go 33 kms. We did great!!! Then we went back on a normal stage, basically a non speed 100 km trip to Vladimir (?) and the hotel. We fuelled up on the way and are ready for tomorrow. Once we got to the hotel, Laurance and I serviced the Porsche as we had so much mud in the wheels, they were so far out of balance that we couldn't go over 90 km/hr. We took each wheel off and cleaned the inside. Tomorrow we have another 27 km special stage and a 520 km regular non timed road trip to the next hotel. We're ready.
PS: Laurance just found out that after day one we are in 4th place. We were the fastest of the North American team PCNAteam. Pretty good start for Laurance and I, don't you think? I am very happy! I havepictures but no time yet to post. Later.
August 2, 2007
Today was the day! We have cars! This morning we went early to the hotel where the cars would be. There were NO cars yet. We waited till 10 am to register our team and found out the cars would be there in 30 minutes.....(Russian minutes) and so we were again "on hold". The weather turned and it started to rain....then around noon or so cars started to show up. Finally ours got in and we started to work on it. It was now raining and we had to do it outside. Laurance and I sorted out the toolboxes and the camera gear, mounted the lights on the roof, put our Canadian stickers on etc. Very exciting to finally have our car!!! Rain or storm, we didn't care. Once we were done we took the car through tech inspection and fuelled it up for the start of the rally tomorrow. At 6 pm we had our first real drivers meeting. We're going racing! The first day will be a "show" kind of day as we get police escort from the hotel to Red Square (hour drive) where the starting ramp is. Then to keep it safe we are being police escorted to the edge of town where the rally really starts.
Tonight the cars are in a locked compound, all race ready!! Nothing left to do now but sleep one more night in the hotel and then drive 7100 km to Ulaan Bataar!
Posted a few pictures as well.
August 1, 2007
This afternoon we went as a group and wondered around the Kremlin Museum. The weather is still pretty nice. It isn't muggy anymore and so it is actually quite relaxing to stroll around and forget about the fact that we still don't have any cars.
This evening we all met at the social event at the Louis Vuitton store on Red Square. A very trendy store and we actually got to meet the rest of the teams as well. However, we did only get to see the actual Russian car, it still is the only TransSyberia Cayenne in Moscow as we speak. We did get to talk to the Porsche representatives and the latest word is that the cars should be at the hotel sometime tomorrow morning. It is what it is. We'll deal with it. They won't start the rally without us, we know that for a fact! As a team we are going to the hotel where the registration and technical inspections are held early tomorrow morning. We'll bring our gear and hope for the best. Porsche as a company is pretty precise and doing all they can to get things sorted out. As a matter of fact, the cars were shipped a week ahead of the planned schedule and still this happens, nothing we or Porsche can do about customs. As I said we'll deal with it.
After our party at the Louis Vuitton store we went to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for dinner. I don't need to tell you how nice it was. Excellent! The organizers gave a nice send off and told us that hopefully they'll see us in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia....... "Hopefully, we'll see you......". It made us all wonder what they really have in store for us.
I have added some pictures of the team, the Louis Vuitton store and the Ritz. The fact that there is no cars yet has not put us down at all, we know that when they get here it will be a mad rush. And we are 100% willing and ready! The enthusiasm is still right up to the top! Give us cars and let's go!
August 1, 2007
There have been no updates really, just rumours. Rum or is that we will see the cars tonight still. Let's hope so. We are going to be tourists for a few hours this afternoon and try to see the Kremlin from the inside. Tonight there is an official social get together. With cars may be???? So, no news today. We'll try again tomorrow.
August 1, 2007
We're on our way to the hotel where the cars should be. Latest report (20 minutes ago) is that the cars will be at the hotel at 10 am this morning!!! I'll let you know when we get back tonight.
July 31, 2007
Latest update on the cars .... Tonight we met with the gentleman from the Porsche factory. He told us that the cars are actually on their way to Moscow, they cleared the first part of customs, he thinks that the cars will be in Moscow later tomorrow (Wednesday) and then will have to be looked at again here in Moscow before final release to the teams. So, reality is that we still are not 100% sure, however, it still looks like we get the cars in time for Thursday tech inspection and then will have some time on Thursday to install our personal items on the car and be ready for Friday's first real leg of the rally. Nothing like a little pre race stress...
July 31, 2007
Last night we got the news that all the cars are stuck at Russian customs. So, no cars today and all we can do is wait for a call or email from the rally organizers that they cleared. So, another day of filling it with "pre-planning" This is a set back for everybody. All the cars are stuck at customs, not just ours, all the cars that were shipped from Germany.
Tech inspection is supposed to be on Thursday and we have lots of work to do to the cars before we can "hit" the road. Hopefully they can clear the cars quickly...., however, it doesn't sound like an hourly delay, sounds more like a daily delay. Nothing we can do about it, we must go with the flow and hope for the best. It will just jam everything into a tight time spot...... somehow we'll get everything done.
Last night we found this really nice and "hip" restaurant. It was an old building with red brick ceilings in an arch. The building although very old had been renovated into this "new age / hip" theme. For once the price didn't break the bank either. Then retired early.
This morning we had our team meeting in Fred's room. All we could really do is get our extra parts and supplies on the table and divide everything between the three cars. Tape, tie wraps, wiring kits, extra fuses etc. Then we went shopping again with our translator Alex. Today we were looking for maps, cables and more supplies. We are ready, all we need now is our cars!
I posted our planning and shopping pictures, soon the updates should become more about racing.
July 31, 2007
July 30, 2007
Last night was a good night. I am very lucky to be able to sleep "on demand". I had a full night and got up at 7 am local time. We had planned to meet in the lobby at 10 AM so I did have some time and had a nice continental breakfast and went for a walk. It's another great day. Warm and dry. Forecast says rain, however so far it has been warm to very warm and a little muggy. Somewhere 24-27 C.
We met at 10 and discussed our day. We still won't be able to get to our cars till tomorrow morning. Fred should be here anytime now and Rod and Richard will be here later this evening. We try and plan a little, however, it is still pretty hard to plan when nobody knows anything for sure. As Rod Millen had said earlier: "expect the unexpected" . We know we need a street map and some regional maps, so we'll go shopping when Fred gets here. Me and Laurancewent for another walk towards Red Square, we discussed the team work and team approach. We are ready and very excited. We have no reason to doubt success!
There are others starting to trickle into the hotel as well, Paul and David (the Australian team) got here this morning. Their day didn't start great either, Paul had lost his phone somewhere along the way..... Talking about losing things, our Paul Dallenbach is still having a hell of a time getting through to Lufthansa. Nobody can tell anything and there are still no bags!
Fred came in around noon and he had no trouble at the border. His bags made it so all the clothing, helmets and spare parts are here too now. Laurance, Fred, Jeff and Alex (our translator) went this afternoon to get the rented team vehicle and finish up the shopping. Paul and I went clothes shopping for Paul.
I am sure I walked 10 miles today in the heat and got very little done. Pretty much a wait and"get ready for tomorrow" kind of day.
Moscow is a very trendy city. I have never seen so many fashion correct dressed people in one place. All the tourists and shoppers in the mall are dressed by Calvin Klein or the likes. This does not look like a poor city. Other first day impressions: Looks like for every two persons in Moscow there is one security guard. They stand in front of every second building, they stand at every shop entry in the mall, they hang out in the lobby of the hotel and come over to you if you rest your feet on the table....."No looking comfortable in the lobby, feet of the table!" I think that's what he said, it was in Russian so I really didn't understand but we got the hint. It was really Jeff he was talking to, Jeff was guilty of having his feet up.
More tomorrow, today was just a fill in day. (I did post a couple new pictures).
July 29, 2007
I'm here in Moscow at the Hotel. Very nice hotel. Moscow Kempinski. My flights were very good. No delays at Calgary and a fine seat on the plane 01H, yes, I was first one on the scene where ever the plane went. I watched a movie and slept a little. Then in Frankfurt I met up with Paul Dallenbach almost immediately. Already the fun had started for Paul. When we met up at Frankfurt and he was on a land line phone already calling his US cell network because his phone wouldn't work. Then they moved our departure gate from where we were and after we finally got on the plane they decided they had more luggage then people so started taking of luggage. Our flight was delayed by 1 1/2 hours, no problem. When we got to customs, it took almost an hour to go through passport control, again no problem, at the luggage retrieval we found luggage going around and a lot of it was just spread all over the area. At first I couldn't find mine ( I found it laying in a pile behind the conveyor....) but Paul never did find his. So here he is in Moscow without his luggage.
Fred and Jeff Zwart had arranged for a person to pick us up at the airport. Nice fellow, Alex, he lives in Moscow but had gone to school in the US so speaks very good English and knows his way around Moscow. We spend the evening walking around red square and then back to the hotel. Do my update and finally time for bed. It's Sunday midnight and we'll meet in the lobby tomorrow morning. Laurance, Jeff, Paul and of course myself are here, Fred, Rod and Richard will arrive in the morning. Tomorrow will still be an easy day since we cannot get at our cars till Tuesday morning. Hopefully Paul's bag will be here tomorrow as well.
I posted some pictures if you click on Porsche / TransSyberian pictures.
July 28, 2007
Well, It's 12.30 and I am on my way! Although I am still at Kelowna airport, I have cleared security and should be getting on the plane in 45 minutes. As per usual, I did have my moments with the airline attendant and security people as I wanted them to manually check my large (very large and heavy) bag. It has all the tools and supplies I think we may need to survive for three weeks and I didn't want it being gone through without me being there to explain all the wires, tape and tools. Lorie was very good and the diplomat. Once again she kept it friendly amongst everybody. Official people just don't understand when you try to help them.....may be it is just my Dutch way of being helpful.....Talk to you all from Moscow!
July 26, 2007
Testing last few things and then off on Saturday morning to Moscow. I'll be flying via Kelowna-Calgary-Frankfurt-Moscow. ETA Moscow 6 pm Sunday local time.
July 17, 2007