The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 1997

September 6 - October 18, 1997

Bulletin 17 (Day 28) - Back on the road

Tuesday 30 September    Quetta to Zahedan     724 kms

A difficult day over rough roads following the railway through inhospitable country to the Pakistan/Iran border. Into Persia, ancient trading route to the West in the tracks of Marco Polo.

Wednesday 1 October     Rest day in Zahedan

Small, dusty town, a chance to recover.

Thursday 2 October     Zahedan to Kerman     558 kms

A hot day through the Dasht e Lut Desert on a smooth road over some dusty, wild and empty tarmac.

In the aftermath of the events in Pakistan, the rally remains in subdued mood, having taken a rest day in Zahedan to allow reflection and repair. Communications have, perhaps understandably, been disjointed since the last bulletin, so we apologise for the gap in posting news.

The rally is currently making headlines as the first event to cross Iran for 20 years. The news we now have from the last couple of days is of problems for several leading competitors. John Catt's long-time leading Cortina (No 50) broke its dampers and he slipped back to third. The Broderick Anglia (No 52) suffered two broken throttle cables to account for a slide from third to seventh.

The Van der Laan Citroen 2CV, for so long in second position overall, suffered a bad 'off' into a ditch before Quetta and lost more than four hours, but is back, running in 23rd place.

The new leader is the Surtees/Baylis Jeep (No 97) which defied predictions both to do well on the Pakistan hillclimb and to cover the rough roads to Quetta with the shortest delay. It checked in with total penalties of just 17 minutes so far throughout the event's 27 days.

The 1950 Ford Coupe of Thomas/Zannis (No 23) also performed exceptionally well, and thus moves up to a highly impressive second place overall with its sister car of Jung and Vann (No 24) just three places back, ahead of both the Australian entered Holden (No 88) and the Bellm Camaro (No 91), which remains resolutely in eighth place, with just over an hour in accumulated penalties.

The Dorey's Morris Minor (No 45) has stopped with a holed piston, but it has not yet been posted as retired. Aan de Stegge's Citroen has similarly not been sighted for a long period - damaged suspension is thought to be the reason.

Another car that had not seen for several days was Roberto Chiodi's Lancia, but he turned up today in Iran, having persuaded a local Toyota garage to rebuild his gearbox for him, using the spare layshaft that he happened to be carrying...

The remaining Buick, of Clark/Hughes (No 25),  has at last, we understand, succumbed to a persistent main bearing problem after limping along for many days. Ivor Moe's Morgan (No 84) has been posted as retired with a blown V8 engine. David Brister's Rover P4 (No 39), damaged in an accident, has apparently been patched up and is attempting to rejoin, having been sighted at a checkpoint, but not yet having reached Kerman.

Another car not to have been seen for two days is John Goldsmith's Aston Martin DB6 (No 81), which has been suffering persistent steering problems such has been the battering it has taken. However, Gerry Acher's older Aston (No 4) is now running well and making slow progress back up the field, having at one stage been slated as retired.

Francesca Sternberg, sender of regular reports back to the Daily Telegraph here in the UK (in the great tradition of the original 1907 event), has suffered all kinds of problems with her Volvo's suspension but manages to continue, making her way up to 43rd place.

All three of the Iranian (Hillman) Hunters, back in home territory, are running well and are towards the top of the field.

In the touring category everyone is still running: indeed their numbers have been supplemented by the addition of Erik Christiansen's Rolls-Royce (No 63) which has moved across from the main class.

Tomorrow sees another 675km stretch across Iran through what Philip Young promises will be some of the most remote and beautiful country yet covered by the rally.



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